Getting out on a mountain biking trail for the first few times is exhilarating and, let's face it, a little scary. Nobody becomes an expert immediately. It takes patience, practice, and perseverance to gain comfort and skill. Try some of these best mountain biking tips for beginners
Don't Go Alone
Ride with a friend who has more experience and is willing to help you learn. Ask them to help you check your gear--helmet, brakes, pedals, suspension, and confirm that you're good to go. You'll have a lot of company on a popular trail on a beautiful day, but make sure someone is there to specifically to be with you. Watching how a more experienced mountain biker negotiates a turn or performs a bunny hop is a great way to learn, as long as you're not left behind trying to figure out how to catch up safely.
Look for the Line You Want to Follow
It's easy to become a little overwhelmed with obstacles on the trail, but learning how to ride on different terrain is kind of the point. Instead of freaking out over the size of a rock ahead, look instead for the line that will take you around it. Decide where you are going to go and find the navigable line to get there, all along the trail.
Go Gentle on the Brakes
Know which brake handle applies which brake--front or back. The front brake is usually the left, and you don't want to slam that on suddenly in the middle of a turn or on a downhill. If you do that, you risk going over the handlebars. Because you have picked your line, you should be able to anticipate dicey terrain, like rock gardens and hairpin curves, and modify your speed well before you are on top of them.
It's Okay to Walk
There are some ruts or rills that you won't be able to get out of or over without getting off the bike and carrying it. That's okay. The trail you are on may actually require you to walk part of it, so don't take walking the bike as some kind of failure--it's part of the sport.
Your bike is built to take it--the bumps and bounces on the trail. Whether full suspension or hardtail, the bike is supposed to handle the terrain, while you handle the bike. This means a lot of time with your butt off the saddle, and your weight shifting either forward or back, depending on whether you are powering through a climb or negotiating a downhill.
Don't hold on to the handlebars so tightly that your upper body gets sore. You want to have firm control, but with enough flexibility to react when things get choppy. If you're stiff and tense, you won't be able to shift your weight and lean forward or back as readily; stand up off the saddle and let the bike negotiate the terrain as well.
If you are so new to the sport that you haven't bought a bike yet, visit an online bicycle shop to compare features and prices. These websites are good sources of information, and you can always follow up with an email or call if you have questions about what kind of bike might be right for you.