It might be your childhood that springs to mind when you think of mountain biking and then quickly wave it off as a rugged pastime for youngsters, but this is simply not the case with people young and old enjoying this heart-pumping pursuit. Yes, it’s about pushing your limits, but it’s also so much more with beautiful scenery to enjoy and the easy ability to connect with nature. With options to ride solo, listen to music on your iPhone and get lost in your thoughts or simply enjoy nature’s peace. Maybe you like a bit of competition, so riding with close friends and family for some competitive fun and adrenaline may be your preference.
Whichever way you want to do it, mountain biking isn’t just advantageous for your health; it’s also the perfect mindfulness activity when it’s just you and our stunning natural environment. So, dust off that helmet and get out there; what’s the worst that can happen; you end up having fun, perhaps?
Health Benefits of Mountain Biking
Whether you’re after the adrenaline of downhill or enjoy trail riding for pleasure, the health benefits of taking up this sport are immense, so with this in mind, Balmy Fox has put together some top reasons why you should start today. Or, if you’re someone who’s forgotten just how good the sport is, maybe we can tempt you out of your mountain biking rut and back into your lycra!
Connect With Nature – In a 2018 university study of 1500 mountain bikers, 90% agreed they felt more connected with nature and the environment around them, making it an excellent pastime for mental wellbeing. Indeed, a mountain bike can take you off the beaten path to absolute solitude, helping to reduce stress and improve your mood.
Low impact Sport – Trail riding and cross country are both low-impact mountain biking activities compared with other aerobic exercises, with many people making the switch because their knees simply can’t take the pounding of running or hiking. Who knew that?
Improves Heart Health – We all know that regularly being active improves cardiovascular fitness, but with mountain biking, you use large muscle groups that require more oxygen. As a result, it makes your heart work more steadily, increasing your overall heart fitness by 3 to 7%.
Improves balance and coordination – Mountain biking requires you to continually adjust to accommodate the terrain, pitch and elevation you’re riding. Keeping your balance and remaining steady is imperative to prevent crashing, but it also strengthens neural pathways, reinforcing muscle memory. This balance and coordination uses the brain, senses, muscles and nervous system and keeping these resources active help reduce age-related disabilities and injuries.
Boosts Immune System – Undertaking regular moderate exercise is known to strengthen the immune system and keep you healthy. Indeed, a study in North Carolina discovered that those who cycle 30 minutes, five days a week, are off sick for half as many days as their counterparts!
Whole Body Workout – It may be a surprise to many that mountain biking uses the muscles of your entire body. Of course, it’s targeting the legs, thighs and calves, but the actions required to retain balance mean you’re engaging your abdominal and core muscles. In addition, you’re strengthening the upper body through manoeuvring and climbing, and none of this requires a monthly subscription!
Shake it up and Ride Different Mountain Biking Trails
There are many options to enjoy our gorgeously green environment with no excuse for getting stuck in a rut. Whether you’re looking for dirt or road trails, change it up as often as possible. And road trails don’t have to be joyless. It may not have the same intensity as off-road, but you can find fun and adrenaline with the right descents, and during winter, when the dirt trails become unrideable, there’s no need to pack the bike away!
Whether mountain biking in Wales, England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, the UK has some truly stunning scenery with plenty of trails to try out your mountain biking skills. Welsh MTB trails, from mountain biking Brecon Beacons or the mountain circuit at Rhyd Ddu, Snowdon, Wales is brimming with biking trails for all levels, and there are even more places to discover throughout the rest of the UK.
If you’re just starting out, the Forest of Dean mountain bike trails offer graded trails, which are perfect for both beginners and more skilled riders. Similarly, Tweed Valley, the spiritual home of Scottish mountain biking, also features dedicated trails for beginners and experienced riders. And, if these are a bit too far from home, you can quickly search for local MTB routes at Komoot, which specialises in sport-specific outdoor experience routes.
Mountain Biking Gift Ideas
If you’re looking for the perfect mountain biking gifts for friends or loved ones or simply looking for yourself, we’ve put together some great MTB presents for all budgets. For example, if you want to go all out on a mountain biking holiday, there are plenty of dedicated MTB-inspired breaks for UK staycations or further afield. Both options deliver breathtaking scenery, whether it’s the Lake District or Tuscany!
For something a little more budget-friendly, the Peak District Mountain Bike Adventure offers day experiences that are more wallet-friendly. And on the accessories side, every mountain biker needs a good pair of standard-issue gloves, and the Brisker Cold Weather Gloves won’t let you down, providing all the protection with less bulk. Similarly, no MTB rider can be without a Topeak pocket-sized multi-tool with a complete range for all budgets! And finally, how about a gift trio of gorgeously hydrating, skin-maintaining On the Trail creams and balms especially designed for mountain bikers and cyclists who love the outdoors and are prone to dry, cracked skin simply because they pursue the sport they love!
For the latest news and what’s happening in the MTB world, check out British Cycling’s MTB page.