Learning How to Mountain Bike Safely
Well, now the bike seems to be set up properly and a friend says " I'll teach you, just follow me on this great trail". So. Ok you think "how much more could there be to it then just riding a bike?" STOP! This is a serious misconception and just knowing how to ride a bike on pavement doesn't equate to being able to do real mountain biking. A dangerous possible consequence and definitely a very poor way to start would be to follow a friend on a trail or more commonly know as a single line or singletrack. Even more absurd and dangerous would be to go to a ski area, purchase a lift ticket, and come flying down the hill.
Mountain biking is almost akin to learning principals of horseback riding then it is to the basics of road riding. Another key concept is mountain biking is supposed to occur in hilly terrain. After all isn't this why a mountain bike is called a mountain bike. This is where the departure from road riding begins. Granted, road rides can go over hilly areas, however due to the hard paved smooth surface, and extremely narrow tires, loss of speed and momentum is kept to a minimum. With mountain biking though, the loss of momentum and the effects of gravity on a trail climb or descent, coupled with large wide tires, and all of the extra visual stimuli /obstacles: bumps, sticks, trees, and rocks will have a severe effect on your forward motion. What often worked while road biking doesn't for mountain biking and is often quite the opposite.