So You Want to Be a Mountain Biker?

A 3 Step Guide to Getting Started

Picking up a new sport can sometimes seem daunting, especially if it involves acquiring (potentially) expensive new gear, and then possibly scraping your face off on the mountainside because you don’t have a clue how to use it properly yet. But you shouldn’t let those things stop you! Faces are overrated and bikes are fun! So in the spirit of demystifying the great mysteries of mountain biking, I’ve put together the most simple guide you’ll ever find to get you on the trail in no time.

Step 1: Get the Gear

First, you have to buy a bike. Preferably with money you don’t have, aka a credit card. This is the American Way. Speaking of money you don’t have, go ahead and get a bike rack too. And a lock. And a spare tube. Or maybe a dozen of them, if you pop your tires as often as my boyfriend.

Step 2: Learn the Lingo

Google some bike jargon, or try to lurk inconspicuously near a group of bikers and eavesdrop on their conversation to pick up some technical vocabulary. A local bike shop is a good place for this (duh) or even a bar – just look for the people in brightly colored spandex and helmets. Don’t look up any of the definitions though, that will take the fun out of it. Try throwing the words randomly into your conversations and hope that you’re using them correctly. If someone tries to correct you, then at least you’ve figured out who the not-fun person is in the friend group.

Shit Mountain Bikers Say from on Vimeo.

Step 3: Find People to Ride With

Make sure to find people who are better riders than you, that way you can learn from them. This should be pretty easy to do if you’ve never been mountain biking before.

Make sure to find people who are worse than you, that way you can feel good about yourself. This might take a few weeks if you’ve never been mountain biking before.

Group photo at Fruita

Bonus Tip: Have fun! Seriously.

While this tip is listed as a “bonus”, in all honesty, it’s arguably the best advice on this page. Maybe one day you’ll be the best shredder on the mountain and you’ll have to train your face off to continue being the best ever, but when you first start out it’s all about learning some basic things and having a good time. Enjoy being new at something! Don’t be afraid to look silly, expect to fall down a few times, and remember to stop and admire the view along the way (which usually provides a much needed opportunity to catch your breath again!)

Admiring the view from Capt. Jack's


With all the unseasonably warm weather lately, I was finally able to get out this past weekend and have the first camping trip of the year. Cooked dinner over a campfire, slept in a tent, peed behind a tree, the whole nine yards. It was everything I had hoped and expected, a comforting reassurance that, yes, camping was as fun as I had remembered it to be. And so begins a personal challenge to myself – to spend at least a month sleeping outside this year.

Sometimes I spend an entire day climbing like a crippled giraffe, but as long as I inhaled a little fresh air and soaked up a couple brief rays of sunshine, eh, it was still a good day.

I can’t take credit for the idea (the original article that inspired me can be found here, and I highly recommend you go read it), but that doesn’t make me any less excited about it. The best part of all my favorite hobbies is that they take me outside, and the more time I’m able to spend outdoors, the better I feel. Sometimes I spend an entire day climbing like a crippled giraffe, but as long as I inhaled a little fresh air and soaked up a couple brief rays of sunshine, eh, it was still a good day.

So the logic seems pretty obvious. More time outside = more happiness, at least for me. (And if you google “the benefits of being outside”, you’ll find numerous articles that suggest an extra dose of nature is good for almost everyone.) And as noted by the author in the article I linked earlier, “the easiest way to feel like I’ve been outside as much as possible is to keep track of my nights sleeping under the stars.”

So, 1 down, 30 to go.


Check out the galleries on the Portfolio page to see a few shots from this weekend. I promise I’ll get around to artsy shots of headlamp-lit tents and Milky Way backdrops eventually, but this first trip deserved to be simply enjoyed.