Christy Sports The Ridge Report
A Blog About Everything Skiing & Snowboarding in Colorado & Utah

The challenge of the climb and the thrill of the downhill are not lost on the savvy mountain-biker. But for those who want to get in on the action, starting out can seem a little daunting. Mountain biking is a great way to stay active while exploring the beauty of nature. It can also be logistically dangerous, especially for beginners who are not adequately prepared. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Mountain Biking Basic Tips

  1. Know Your Limits

Trust us, mountain biking is a valid excuse to skip that daily trip to the gym. The outdoor activity may touch muscle groups you didn’t know existed, and it will certainly make your lungs do a little heavy lifting. The lifting is heavier if you are mountain biking at altitude, like in Colorado. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. It’s ok to take breaks! While challenging, this should also be an enjoyable summer activity.

  1. Respect the Terrain

Along with knowing your limits comes being aware when terrain throws you too far out of your comfort zone. Much like ski runs, mountain bike trails are rated for difficulty based on width, surface, grade, and technical features. (see below) Don’t go straight for a black diamond, and if you hit a section that is too steep or technical on a green circle, don’t be afraid to walk it. Just make sure to steer clear of other bikers heading down the trail.

Mountain bike difficulty rating.

  1. Rent FirstRenting for first time mountain biking.

The urge to splurge on a shiny new mountain bike can be hard to fight, especially if you aren’t aware you have options. Rent a bike first! Decide what style of riding you enjoy and what type of bicycle is best for that venture before you call one your own. Your rental expert will be able to point you in the direction of the right fit for starting out, and bike demos will allow you to try before you buy.

  1. Wear a Helmet

At the risk of sounding like your mother, this is still the most tried and true bike safety tip in the book. The need for head protection is magnified on rocky, uneven mountain trails.

Wear a helmet mountain biking for beginners.

  1. Use Your Gears

Gears are designed to create a more comfortable ride so make sure to learn how the specific gears on the bike you’re riding operate. Your rental tech can demonstrate how to shift gears on the bike you choose to accompany you on the trails. As a rule of thumb, take the downhills at a higher gear and shift to a lower gear when climbing to take some of the workload off of your legs.

  1. Position Your Body

Correct body positioning leads to optimal balance. When climbing, lean forward into the handlebars and slide your body to the front of the seat. This will place the pressure on your front wheel and help stabilize your bike. When going downhill, either slow your pedaling or stop it completely as you float above your seat and loosen your body to comfortably absorb impact.

Mountain biking downhill for beginners. Mountain biking uphill for beginners.

  1. Enjoy Yourself

Mountain biking is a blast, so don’t let the logistics keep you from exploring the trails on two wheels. Remember to enjoy the scenery and have fun! While mountain biking is a technical sport, start slow on the easier trails and you’ll be amazed how quickly you get the hang of it. (And the size of the smile on your face on those quick downhills.)

Check out Christy Sports’ mountain bike rentals in the premier mountain towns of Colorado and Utah. With a variety of bikes and gear and a knowledgeable staff, we cover riders from novice to advanced. When renting a bike, ask your Christy Sports bike expert for their tips and tricks, as well as their favorite spots to start shredding in the area.


Here in the Rocky Mountains, we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place that we can enjoy different activities amongst the seasons. The weather is warming up and it’s a wonderful time to be outdoors, but the biggest drawback of the spring is that the trails are still primarily too wet for mountain biking. This year it seemed as winter was never-ending – were not complaining we enjoyed all those laps on the hills late into the season – yet getting the bike out to hit the trails is where most of us want to be when it’s warm.

While it is extremely tempting to get out there and go ride even if the trail is wet, in doing so it can have an adverse effect on the trail all summer. Riding on wet biking trails can cause ruts and erosion, widening of the trail, and damage to that bike you love so much. There are trails and areas in the Rocky Mountains that handle the moisture better than others such as a trail with more sand or gravel, but it is best to avoid the trails that turn to mud or full of water.

Erosion and Ruts:

If the trail is wet and muddy, continual bike riding creates ruts making the trail worse when it dries. The more a trail is ridden on, the more susceptible it becomes to erosion, yet erosion is accelerated when the trail is muddy and bike tires are going deeper into the dirt. Ruts on trails require additional trail maintenance, which is done by volunteer work. There is a huge misconception that the trail will just repair itself. That is False. The trail will become worse over time. The more work volunteers have to do to correct ruts and erosion from trail abuse and weather, the less time they have to focus on other trail improvements.  It would be a real bummer not to be able to enjoy those trails all summer in the gorgeous weather.

Widening of the Trails:

Riders usually tend to go around the muddy areas and off-trail when the paths are wet. In doing this, it will start to create another trail, leaving behind the vison of a singletrack path and making erosion worse. Riding the wet trails also hurts the natural environment leading to additional damage. At the end of the day, riders will have to make the decision to get off their bike to walk through puddles if the path is deeply saturated in parts instead of riding around it. Although, if the trail is truly mud filled or gets worse as you ride further into it and it’s probably best to turn back around and find another trail to ride.

Damage to Your Bike:

We have seen the commercials and ads of how awesome it looks when the mud is flinging back from the tires, leading us to believe our bikes can handle it all! Well, that image is not completely true. You weren’t sold a lie, but in all reality mud can have a severe impact on your bike. Riding wet, muddy trails will cause mud to lump up on your rear tire, which can catch your rear derailleur forcing it to bend or break. This is a real quick way hurt your bike and it’s not the only part that can be impacted-think about the other essential bike parts as well that could be damaged.

We know this time of year can be a real pain for bike riders. Most of us are dying to get out there to ride our favorite trails. The warm weather and sunny skies can trick us into believing we are good to get out there, but that is generally not the case. Various circumstances such as afternoon rain storms and water runoff play a major part in trail conditions. It is best to plan ahead and have alternative trail options ready. Read trail conditions and statuses before heading out. It may be very tempting, especially when you have put in the effort and time, to ride a muddy trail, but remember the impact that has on the trails, your bike, and after all who truly enjoys being soaking wet and muddy?

Do you have any tips to add? Do you know of a good trail to ride during the mud season? Comment below.