For this ‘Have a go’ guide, we’re heading up North to bonny Scotland, to team up with Graeme McLean from the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland Project. Prepare to get muddy people…
So what are the main differences between just riding your bike on a country trail, and proper mountain biking?
For me, riding along a country trail is inextricably linked to proper mountain biking. It’s all just a sliding scale of experience really. To experience the thrill of ‘proper’ mountain biking, you need to have started somewhere. And that somewhere is very often the country trail, or the back streets around your house. The Developing Mountain Biking project is all about we give people the chance to move from one experience to the other. Getting on your bike is the first stage really and where you end up is your choice.
Can I use my everyday bike or do I need a specialised one?
It depends on what you want to experience on your mountain bike.
For many people their mountain biking experience will involve going out together as a family visiting their local park or woods. However if you wish to progress from this stage to more adventurous experiences you’ll benefit from a bit more specialised equipment to cope with the rigours of more demanding terrain.
You can! But this shouldn’t always be seen as a bad thing. Most mountain bikes have a wide range of gears which makes climbing even very steep sections of trail possible. Although it can be hard work and test your fitness, climbing hills on your bike can also be very satisfying and the feeling of achievement, as well as, beautiful views can be well worth the effort. You also get to enjoy the descent!
You often see photos of mountain bikers completely spattered with mud, does it get pretty messy?
It can do! But if you pick trails that have good drainage and take care to go around the puddles you can stay pretty dry. Or you can just go for it! Embrace the mud and experience that joyous feeling of letting go that you probably last experienced as a child.
How can I find the nearest mountain bike trails to where I live?
In Scotland the VisitScotland website has lots of good routes close to where most people live. However the best idea is to visit your local bike shop and ask the friendly man or woman behind the counter. Bike shops have a great wealth of knowledge and it is in their best interest to make sure you have fun on your bike. It also might be a good opportunity to get them to have a look over your bike to make sure everything is in working order before setting out on your own adventure.
Where’s your favourite mountain biking spot in the UK?
‘I would actually set a challenge to anyone to go to Glentress, one of the 7stanes, near Peebles and try and have a bad time near Peebles! As long as you pick a route that fits with your ability, don’t overestimate your bike skills and build up your confidence before taking on the more difficult routes – you will be guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.