Outdoor Advocacy

5 Mountain Biking Basics for Betties

In case you’re unaware, a “betty” is a cute little slang term of a thing for a female mountainbiker. And for you betties who are interested in getting into the sport, we’ve compiled some bare-bones basics that will help you hit the trails, keep you safe, and ensure one sweet ride.

The Bike Matters…Like Whoa:
Tire size, suspension, and shifting all contribute to the overall performance of your mountain bike. If you purchase a used, older model, bike chances are your ride could be pretty rough. That being said, used can have its advantages as long as the bike has been well maintained and the gearing is adequate.

Highly recommended:

  • Researching various bikes
  • Renting a few mountain bikes that you’re interested in before purchasing to see how they work for you
  • Have your friends take you out for some demo rides

Trail Rating Systems…Know Them:
Much like rock climbing, hiking, or skiing, this outdoor sport has a rating system for each trail based on the trail’s overall difficulty. Though the rating systems can vary a bit from region to region, this is the general standard:

  • Easiest
  • Easy
  • More Difficult
  • Very Difficult
  • Extremely Difficult

The rating system is based on a variety of factors, including the width and surface of the trail, the grade (or incline) of the trail, and natural obstacles or technical features present on the trails.

For example, an easy trail is going to be wide, fairly smooth and stable, with small and mostly unavoidable obstacles (rocks) present, and minor grade (15% or less).

Face Plants Suck…Safety First:
This may go without saying, but a helmet should be worn at all times when mountain biking. In fact, if you’re hyper accident prone, you might even consider wearing a full face and head helmet (Don’t worry, it looks badass).

Some other safety precautions to follow include:

  • Wearing close-toed shoes
  • Don’t leave too much skin exposed: covering your knees, elbows, and shins can protect from nasty scrapes
  • Know your limits and don’t attempt trails that are well beyond your skill level. Pushing yourself is good, but being reckless can land you in the hospital
  • Take care of your body by eating well and allowing yourself to rest. Mountain biking will bang you up fast, so recuperation is essential.

Important (and/or humorous) Lingo:
We’ve already discussed “betty”, now for some of the more important and more entertaining mountain biking vernacular.
Air: the space between your tires and the ground ( both tires have to leave the trail).
Bacon: scabs on various body parts ( most likely from crashing).
Bunny hop: lifting both wheels off the trail by crouching and then doing a rabbit like hop on your bike to clear an obstacle.
Death march: a ride that tests your overall endurance (typically unplanned).
First blood: the first rider who crashes and draws blood on the ride ( this is often viewed as good luck…though we struggle to understand why).
Singletrack: trail that is only wide enough for one person to ride.
Faceplant: to literally plant one’s face in the dirt after taking a fall.

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect…But it Helps
The more you ride, the better you’ll be. However, even skilled mountain bikers still faceplant every once in awhile. The best thing you can do to ensure that you’re biking experiences are hella fun and safe is practice with your more skilled and knowledgeable friends, know your limits, and get goals for yourself. If you mastered the easy trails, then start timing yourself on them, try a more difficult grade, or go for distance.

Ride on!

By Hope Gately