Kurt Exenberger from Kirchberg in Tirol is one of the most successful coaches for Austria’s top mountain bikers and has been giving tips on how to mountain bike like a pro for many years. With the new mountain bike season fast approaching, expert tips regarding training and off-trail practice, basic bike maintenance, and trail finding come in quite handy. I asked Kurt if he would be willing to share some of his secrets with us, and he was more than happy to oblige:
1. What type of training is best to prepare for the upcoming mountain bike season? Can I train at home?
The most important thing to get the most out of your time on the bike is core work. It should be a part of every strength workout as it will reduce the risk of injury and greatly improve the quality and economy of movement through the entire body, on and off the bike. The best way to make those important trunk muscles strong is to train with the MFT Core Disc, as shown in the following videos:
You are recommended to begin your first ten bike tours of the season on flat and easy terrain and on low resistance to improve endurance. Don’t let a weak ability to exert yourself frustrate all the hard work your legs do on the bike. You will also benefit from adding a new sport or activity like running to your workout routine.
2. How do I get my mountain bike ready for the first ride?
Before you think about taking your bike for a spin in spring, make sure you give it a thorough tune-up by a bike shop. They will inspect your brake system. Just like the brakes in your car, bicycle brakes wear down over time and need to be replaced. Maintenance includes adjusting and/or overhauling all parts as needed, and specifically maintaining and lubing your suspension.
3. What are your mountain bike tips for beginners? How to get started with the sport?
Beginners should take a skills class before heading to the Alps. Learning the basics will make you feel safer and have you riding with more control, confidence and fun. For the first 200 to 300 kilometers, pick easy trails that give you ample opportunity to try out your new found skills. Remember you are a better rider with every pedal. First-time downhill mountain bike riders should learn the basic coordination skills in advance, start easy on gentle sections, then slowly get into downhills. Practicing on the same trail will help you to experience flow and gain a quick understanding of how to read a trail.
4. When can I start mountain biking with a child?
Children can absolutely mountain bike and enjoy the many benefits of this sport from the age of 5 onwards. All they need is the correct gear—quality mountain bikes are available at bike shops.
5. Can seniors go mountain biking?
Thanks to mountain bikes powered by an electric motor, which pushes cyclists uphill when they get tired, almost everyone can do the sport! If it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to ride to the top of the hill, a pedal-powered bike will do job as well. Mountain biking is a low impact sport, meaning it puts less stress on your joints than other outdoor activities. And with all that lift-assisted riding offered in the Alps you can enjoy the reward end of “what goes up, must come down” without exerting the effort on the “up part”. Skill development classes are important for beginners to help them feel safer – after all, you wouldn’t go skiing without instruction, would you?
6. What are this year’s trends in mountain biking?
Full suspension electric mountain bikes have grown in popularity this year. Another one of this year’s mountain bike trends is the progression toward longer and slacker bikes. Top tubes have grown, suspension is updated with new trunnion mount shocks and the geometry gets tweaked with the aforementioned longer top tube link. Most common bikes come in versions with 27.5 and 29in wheels. I think the cycling industry is taking us to 29in wheels in the future.
Follow along these helpful video skills tips from our expert guide Kurt and learn necessary skills for riding the mountains:
Learn more about Kurt Exenberger on www.sport.tirol (German only).