Mountain biking is a great way to explore the outdoors, stay in shape, or just have fun. It is growing in popularity and it is a common sight to see a bike strapped to the back of a vehicle. Racing down the side of a mountain is a lot of fun indeed, although it can also be quite dangerous.  Even though it's dangerous, if you ride with caution, it can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Styles of mountain biking
Mountain biking can best be characterized by three different styles - downhill, free riding, and cross country.  Even though the different styles are similar in some ways, they still require different skills.  The style that you pick, will determine the type of bike you get.

Locations for mountain biking
The sport can best be thought of as biking on an unpaved surface.  Many areas throughout the world, now have specific locations, designed especially for mountain biking.  Before you decide to go down a trail, you should always check with your local park ranger, to get the routes, regulations, and any rules that they may have.

You can also find groups that have mountain bike rides and competitions.  You can look on the internet, or even in a local newspaper and see exactly what's available in your area.  You may be able to find groups for the more advanced riders, as well as beginners.

Becoming a great biker
Endurance and stamina are a must for a great mountain biker.  It will also take ambition and practice to succeed, as well as conquer the course.  Like all other sports, it takes time and practice and energy.  Those just beginning will have to get past the bumps and bruises from falling off the bike.

Selecting your mountain bike
The bike you select, is more of a personal choice and a big determining factor on the type of riding you will be doing.  Bikes come in all styles, shapes, and prices, which will make selecting one for yourself very difficult indeed. 

You should use the internet to help you shop for a bike, even do some price comparisons online as well, before you make a purchase.  Before you buy a bike, always ask to try it out first.  A great mountain biker will become one with his, or her own bike.  When buying, make sure you check for comfort, how it fits, even how it is geared.

Staying safe when riding
Mountain bike riding on unpaved roads can be very dangerous, as mentioned earlier.  Anytime you are riding, you should wear a helmet, along with knee and elbow pads.  If you are following a group, or riding in the woods, you should strongly consider a pair of goggles as well.  Safety should be your top priority and never taken lightly, anytime you are mountain biking.

Obviously, another big risk, especially at night, is traffic. Make sure you have a light, reflectors and fluorescent clothing, so that motorists can see you.

The best part about cycling, is that it is not only fun, but it is very good exercise. Every muscle will be made to work, the heart rate and pulse will be raised and the fat will be burned up.

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Clinton Robson is a South African fitness fanatic and is a qualified Personal Trainer. He has completed a contract to run the gyms on cruise ships. He has done a special higher level course and qualified as an Exercise Specialist, or Conditioning Coach. He works in 2 local gyms, assisting the staff with clients and training plans. He has been working out regularly, since 1996. Visit Clint's blog at http://www.fitnessandfatless.yolasite.com