The Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

The Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking – Part I

Well so now I want to put together a set of articles on how to get going with mountain biking.  The web is full of blogs, professional oriented Web magazines, eZines, Web sites etc. for the professional rider.  As I have mentioned earlier in my postings, I want to focus my blog and resources to the amateur rider — the enthusiast that rides on weekends, in some cases alone, in some cases with family and/or friends, but all in all not a professional.

With that in mind, there are many things to consider in the guide for the beginner:

  • What are the bare essentials needed
    • Bike — sure, but which type do you need — check the blog write up on that
    • Helmet
    • Biking clothing
    • Gloves
    • Biking shoes or regular sneakers
  • What are the essential accessories that can make your bicycle rides as much as possible hassle free
    • Water bottle or an over the sholder water pack
    • Sunglasses
    • Socks
  • How to buy a bicycle and what do consider in that process
  • What are the essential accessories you need in your garage to maintain (to some extent) your bike and get it ready for a ride
  • Techniques to leverage during the bicycle rides
    • Climbing hills — no matter whether on a paved road or out in the hills on a dirt road
    • How to gradually increase your distance travelled
  • Bicycle ride tracking software / tools / ride computers

So each one of the sections above will generate or had generated already some write-ups you can hopefully find helpful on this blog.  Check them out!


Custom Built Bicycles – Fad or a Real Deal

Why would you want a custom bicycle — are the Custom Built Bicycles Fad or Real Deal?  These are the questions I have been asking myself over the last couple of years whenever I think about it.  As I get more into the biking experience — I started to also learn more about the craft of bicycle building as well as of the various materials, frames, forks and components used even on stock bikes.

So today, as I was adding more manufacturers to my database — you can get access to the information from it via the Bike Reviews section of this blog – and more specifically the Custom Built Bikes section, I thought to summarize my tjhoughts and my learnings about the topic.  So here we go:

What are the key things to consider if you are thinking about a custom built bicycle:   well those amount to three things:

  • Time — building a bike for you will take time…so you need to be patient;
  • Price (Cost to you) — in summary, things here do not come cheap, but many stock bike cost even more…
  • Fit and comfort — this is the best and most critical reason why you would consider the approach;

If you can afford it and alocate the time — these are custom built bikes – for you and you alone.  There are many and a growing number of custom bicycle builders — and those are certainly a part of a growing trend for having a bike that truly fits you….The next thing that I would (and I am sure many others will) ask is "…but what is the price tag…?"


Anderson Custom Bicycle   Alchemy Bicycles - Boreas  

Since most of us are NOT professional riders, I will spend a bit of time on the topic of the bike cost.  I bought my current (stock) bike in December 2010. Then my wife and I shopped for her bike earlier in the Fall of this year.  All in all during that time I saw the price tags of many of the road bikes (we bought mountain bikes this time around) in the pro-shop where we got our recent bikes.  Well, based on what I saw from many of the custom manufacturers via their Web pages / Web price lists and the prices I saw in the pro-shop, many of the stock bikes' prices have gone sky high!  

Given that discovery (mind you – not a big one – but nevertheless an eye opener for me) I would certainly consider the custom built ones in the future.

If you have experience with the topic, please drop me a line.  Would like to hear from you!


Big Bend Park – One of the 7 Great Parks for Mountain Bikes

Big Bend Park

Big Bend Park (both the National and State parks) are great for mountain bikes and great rides.  The park is located in the south west corner of the state of Texas – right on the border with Mexico.  Actually in many places in the park you will encounter the Rio Grande river which is the border demarkation between the US and Mexico.

So here are my experiences and suggestions for making the best possible choices in a limited amount of time to visit and experience the park.

Accomodations wise about the only hotel which is really close to both the National and State parks, is the Lajita Golf Resort.  The hotel is an interesting one — it attempts to recreate an old Western town – complete with the board sidewalks, etc. 

As you can see from the photos below – it is portraying successfully a picture of the Old West!  (Where are the gun slingers you may ask yourself….? Luckily those have been replaced with the modern day golf amateurs and pros….)

Biking wise — the Big Bend National park aparently offers over 160-miles of dirt roads to explore (on top of the 100-miles of paved roads).  So obviously, the park offers some intense options for the biking crowd.

Here is a link to some earlier postings I had done in the section on bicycle trails and courses in the US.


Mounting Options for Bike Computers

We are all excited users of various types of bicycle computers — and of course with those devices come the need for Mounting Options for Bike Computers.  Why?  Because most of the regular mounting options are either too weak or not even adequate for use over long period of time.  So enter the specialized / after maket tools. 

Just recenlty I came across the K-Edge Garmin Computer Mount which is being promoted as a very sturdy and useful option for mounting a number of devices – namely the Edge200, Edge500, Edge800;  So I decided to check it out and research if I need to invest in a new mounting option for my bike computer. 

Checking out Garmin –  I saw this YouTube video which actually cleared up the mistery that was troubling me.  When I first saw the braket (mount) and how it was used with the Garmin computer I was concerned quite a bit about the likelyhood of the computer not surviving more than 2 serious mountain bike rides… Why?  because of the way the braket works it situates the computer ahead of the handlebars — i.e. directly in the path of obstacles or any objects that the bike may hit during a fall for example. 

But then  I saw the video — below — and realized that this bracket must be provisioned for road bikes.  No wonder even the video itself is stressing the use of the device in a road bike.  No worries about hitting anything, right? 

      Bike Mount

Well you judge for yourselft.   I personally still think that the better way to mount anything on the bike is by leveraging a mounting bracked attached to the stem of the handlebars.  This makes for a nice sturdy connection as well as keeps the device behind the handlebars and behind obstables that may hit it.

You can take a look at my blog entry on one option — the Delta Smartphone Caddy…Smartphone Caddy

Having said all this, I must admit now I see also statements on various sites that the K-Edge is also used with moutain bikes, but my recommendation will be to go for a stem mounted holder.  Period.