Michael Hagele, who works as a senior outside counsel for several companies in the technology field, is passionate and knowledgeable about mountain biking and has a lot of experience in the sport. The tech-company, hospitality- and restaurant-industry entrepreneur is glad to share some mountain biking tips in the hope that more and more people get involved with this incredible activity.
Mountain Biking is for Nearly Everybody
Although high-speed mountain biking with extreme elevation changes is a part of this sport too, that shouldn’t scare anybody away as those aspects can be adjusted so that it’s very welcoming to newcomers too. Simply choosing flatter routes and a slower pace can make all of the difference in attracting newcomers to the sport.
Attending a mountain bike skills camp is another great option for learning how to ride in a safe, supportive environment. Those in or near cities such as Atlanta and Chicago can also try out their new-found skills at mountain biking parks located there.
Michael Hagele Says High-Quality Equipment is Necessary
One of the things that Michael Hagele recommends all mountain bike riders do is use high quality equipment, which can be bought, borrowed or rented, as doing so will go a long way towards making the initial mountain biking experiences comfortable, fun ones.
Some of the performance features that Michael Hagele recommends include a dual-suspension system for front and rear, shock absorption, disc braking, fluid for extra stopping power and a hydraulic seat post dropper. Many of these features are necessary as mountain biking is a similar experience to off-roading in a jeep as riders will be experiencing a much bumpier ride than they would be on asphalt bike paths.
Trying out a mountain bike at a shop that specializes in them is highly recommended. In general, employees there are very knowledgeable and will ensure that the mountain bike and the rider are a great fit for each other.
The Importance of Equipment
The helmet is the most important thing that a mountain biker will wear while having sturdy athletic shoes and lightweight clothing is recommended as well. Wearing a cycling jersey and spandex without underwear is probably the best clothing option to take, but neither of those pieces is essential.
Other equipment to consider include gloves to allow for a firmer grip on the handles and a fanny pack or light backpack to hold things like energy bars, water, a trail map, a tire pump and a spare tire tube. Note that carrying a bag is of the utmost importance if the ride will be a long one in the backcountry.
Although mountain biking does not need to be that strenuous if it’s done on mostly flat terrain with little elevation change, it’s still important to ensure that those biking are in good enough physical shape to be ready for this form of exercise. People who already bike, run or engage in other cardiovascular activities will be most apt to be ready for mountain biking.
It’s also essential to be properly fueled, taking in a sufficient number of nutritious calories and liquids before, during and after the ride.
Before heading out, things such as the weather forecast as it relates to the expected temperatures, humidity, chance of rain or snow and air quality levels should be considered. Also check if there has been or will likely be any flooding in the area due to earlier rainstorms or otherwise. Considering what time the sun will set and ensuring that the ride will end well before then is highly recommended as well. All of this information will help determine what should be worn, what the ride experience will most likely be like and how long it should last.
Focus on Gradual Improvement
Beginning mountain bikers should ensure that they don’t attempt to do too much too soon. This can relate to how much is undertaken relative to how in shape they are cardiovascularly as well as making small, manageable improvements as they relate specifically to mountain biking. Some of the mountain biking skills that must be learned include climbing, descending, riding on the flats, cornering and gently rolling over small objects. Although many athletes are competitive by nature, being safe should be the sole focus. Incorporating that competitive spirit can be done later in the learning process.
Where to Go Mountain Biking
So many places around the world are home to incredible mountain biking trails. Some of the best options in the United States include Sedona, Ariz.; Bend, Ore.; Moab, Utah; Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Nev.; Durango, Colo.; Bentonville, Ark.; East Burke, Vt.; and Harrisonburg, Va. Elsewhere in the world, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Switzerland and Australia provide plenty of prime mountain biking experiences.
For inspiration, follow along with Michael’s adventures as he hits some of California’s best trails on Twitter @Michael_Hagele_