I was ever so gently chastised by Debbie last week over a post I made whereby I expressed vaguely negative views over this Bike Radar article. I insinuated the piece on how to start MTBing was a tad patronising. I must apologise - commuting by bike brings out the beast in me. If that's all I did on a bike I would probably devise an intricate way of killing myself using two spokes and some chain lube.
So in an effort to redress the karmic balance - and because I am writing this at 4am while listening to Radio 4's morning broadcast which so far has included child abuse in Zimbabwe, Venezuela declaring war on Colombia and a severed head being found in a suitcase (happy days people!) - I have here my own guide to beginning mountain biking:
1) Do not assume that because you are a beginner you are therefore female. It has been known to happen but this could cause havoc in the toilets at Dorking station.
2) Note the word, BAGGIES. The addition of lycra to your cycling wardrobe will not make riding a MTB easier. This is a fallacy perpetuated by Evans Cycles and Richard Mardle from Felt racing. Despite many wins, he also crumples in ditches for no apparent reason. In fact the reason is lack of blood to his legs from his shorts.
3) Do not under any circumstances buy a good quality 500 quid mountain bike. Hire for a few weeks until you can work out whether you would rather arrive at the top of a climb or the bottom of some singletrack with the bigger smile.
4) Go riding in the rain. This will make you hard and sturdy - essential MTB characteristics. Plus once you have established riding in appalling conditions, you will reconcile yourself to the basics of MTB in the UK - mud.
5) Be prepared to give up. One of the main joys of MTBing is cake, pies and beer. Oh and tea. The sooner you get to that part of the day, the better. No shame people.
6) Under no circumstances should you practise bunnyhopping in your mum's back garden while wearing slippers.
7) People will tell you it's all about having a great day out in the countryside with your mates. This is a lie. Firstly most of your mates won't MTB anyway. And secondly it's really about doing something gnarly to make your day job seem less depressing and you seem cooler. Thus if you are wearing a skinsuit while riding you have defeated this outcome completely.
8) Learn how to ride off-camber sections (bike away from slope, planting tyres into the lovely, solid earth.) Once this skill is sorted, your life will become a lot easier.
9) Learn how to rail a berm - WEIGHT SOLIDLY OVER BOTTOM BRACKET ON YOUR OUTSIDE FOOT, ELBOWS BENT, EYES LOOKING OUT THE CORNER. Charging a corner is completely rad, pretty simple to pick up and fun. There's only so many technical climbs a girl can handle.
10) Never ask of someone: 'Do you think I can ride that?' This will end with you jumping clear of some 12 foot North Shore into knee deep mud and losing a shoe. Chances are you can't ride it, yet. That's why we have cake and beer. Der.