With the harsh winter months winding down it’s time to get off the couch and get ready for some extreme mountain biking. And one of the most popular forms of extreme mountain biking is cross country or XC. Just imagine pumping up steep inclines, gliding down grassy hills and flying over all types of harsh terrain; it’s no wonder cross country mountain biking is an Olympic sport.
Just because it’s popular, don’t be fooled into thinking that XC mountain biking is only for the weak. To become a professional on the XC circuit, competitors train for years; peddling through multiple, grueling courses. Fortunately, getting started in this form of extreme mountain biking is fairly simple. But finding the right gear is vital to the safety and progress of the cross country mountain biker; with the mountain bike being the most important investment.
Finding the right mountain bike and having it set up properly are extremely important to the XC mountain biker. The weight and suspension of your mountain bike are essential to get the most out if this form of extreme mountain biking. The weight of the bike should range between 20 and 30 pounds, with the front suspension travel between 60mm and 120mm. The suspension travel is the movement that the shocks can absorb; the more travel you have the smoother the ride.
While many mountain bikes come ready for the XC circuits right off the rack, you may need to make a few alterations to help make your bike the ideal tool for extreme mountain biking. For cross country mountain biking, you may need to make the following adjustments:
o Remove all unneeded accessories. This includes rack, bells and lights.
o Set your seat height and position. For proper seat height, raise your seat until your leg is straight when the pedal is at the six o’clock position. Seat position is based on rider comfort. Start with the seat level and move it accordingly.
o Position the handlebars. For XC mountain biking, the handlebars should be about 2 ½ inches below the seat. The lower the bars, the more control you will have during your climbs; higher bars give more control when your coming down.
For extreme mountain biking, the condition of the rider is just as important as the condition of the mountain bike. Being in good physical condition will help you on the steep inclines and over the rough trails associated with XC circuits. But just because you’re a little soft around the middle, don’t let it discourage you from hitting the trails. Start slow and work your way up to more difficult courses, and incorporate strength conditioning into your workout to get the most out of this form of extreme mountain biking.
Many people choose cross country mountain biking because of the freedom they feel as they navigate XC circuits. XC racing is often considered the least extreme form of extreme mountain biking and can be the easiest form to get started in. All you need is a mountain bike, protective gear and the little bit of nerve required to rush through the rugged trails.