What to expect
Mountain biking’s all about cycling away from the roads. Hills and trails can be more difficult, but they’re also a great chance to experience nature and set yourself a fun challenge. Mountain bikes are different to bikes designed for road cycling: they tend to be heavier and more robust, with thicker tyres and sometimes suspension. You can go mountain biking at any time of the year as long as you dress for the weather.
If racing’s your thing, there are categories for all ages and abilities from fun races to marathons, elite competitions, and the Olympics.
What you’ll learn
You’ll need to stick at it when you’re tired – and you may even need to get back up and try again if you fall off. At the end of the ride, it’ll be worth it as you look back at the feeling of zooming down a hill or how it felt to reach a checkpoint with your friends.
- We think that the first mountain bikes were only designed to go downhill. Riders would carry them to the top of a hill and then ride down.
- The Birkebeinerrittet in Norway is the world’s largest mountain biking race in terms of numbers of participants. It’s 53.4 miles long and attracts up to 15,000 participants each year. Imagine how tired they must be when they reach the finish line!
- Stay hydrated. Don’t forget your water bottle – it’s up to you whether you mount it on your bike or pop it into a backpack.
- Fuel up with food. Pack some snacks to keep your energy up.
- Be ready for repairs. As well as a first aid kit for people, make sure you’ve got a basic repair kit (or spares).
- Dress for the weather. If you’re serious about mountain biking, you might have padded shorts or technical shirts than draw moisture away from your body. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have technical clothing – just wear something sensible for the weather. In winter, you’ll need a rain jacket to protect you from the elements.
You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
- Check the weather forecast
- Everyone must wear a helmet whilst cycling, exemptions apply.
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group.
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
- The centre/instructor should hold one of these: (If the provider is AALA exempt)
- Mountain Biking - Qualified to lead the activity as per the requirements of British Cycling
- Mountain Biking - Qualified to lead the activity as per the requirements of Cycling UK
- Mountain Biking - Qualified to lead the activity as per the requirements of MIAS
- Mountain Biking - Qualified to lead the activity as per the requirements of Scottish Cycling
- Mountain Biking - Qualified to lead the activity as per the requirements of CTC
The provider must have public liability insurance.
Mountain biking is a fun way to be active and a great opportunity to get off road and into nature. Had people visited the place you went mountain biking before? What was it like compared to other places they’ve ridden bikes?
What did people learn in this activity? Perhaps they had to take a deep breath and face their fears or practise their balance. Riding off-road or downhill tracks can be challenging at first, but learning the proper techniques can help people feel more confident.
It’s up to you to choose the terrain. Match the grade of tracks and trails (and the length of your ride) to the experience of your group.
- Mountain biking and off-road cycling can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group – make sure you give them plenty of notice.
- British Cycling have Disability Cycling Hubs located across the country.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.
If everyone enjoyed mountain biking, you could try to combine it with your next night away and complete an expedition. This could count towards the Scouts Expedition Challenge Award or the Explorers Mountain Biking Activity Badge.
People could also look for a local Go-Ride Club. They’re a great way to level up your mountain biking skills.