Women’s Mountain Biking is one of the most widely growing adrenaline-fueling sports in the world. It’s great for exercise, and it’s great for getting to know people and getting to see more of the environment through some excellent nature and riding trails all over the world.
Thinking of getting into women’s mountain biking, or just wondering what the scene is like?
There are many myths about mountain biking, and there are even more myths to consider when it comes to women’s mountain biking. This means that there’s still a lot of people who might have questions before they get into it.
Maybe you’ve never biked before; maybe you’re used to a regular road bike and you want to know more about switching to mountain biking after deciding that you want to improve your health.
Whatever your reason, women’s mountain biking is alive, vibrant and one of the best things you can do.
Here’s your complete guide to women’s mountain biking and what you might need if you want to start, plus some great resources for cycling and women’s mountain biking at the end.
First, Some Mountain Biking Basics
The most basic rules about mountain biking are some of the things that beginners to the sport are the most likely to forget. Here’s how to make sure your head stays screwed on when you’re completely new to the pastime of mountain biking…
- Choose the right bike and clothing.
The right bike together with the right clothing guarantees you’ll have a better mountain biking experience, and it’s one of the most important choices to make. (Keep reading for essential advice to help you choose yours!)
- Carry a repair kit.
Repair kits are there to get you out of a tight spot. Always make sure you carry these with you: Carry several and don’t leave the house without one. Accidents can happen at any point – and when they do, rather say that you’re prepared and move on instead of getting stuck!
- Hydrate as you go along.
Hydration is one of the most important things to remember, especially in hot climates and especially when exercising and losing fluid. Many beginners forget this to their own disadvantage – and it has fatal potential: Make sure it’s not you!
- Know your trail well.
Always know your trail well before you set out to challenge it. Technology means that you can check out a trail before arriving – and you can see it from several angles and a bird’s eye view, too. Familiarize yourself with the trail first, and ask about the difficulty level, obstacles, expectations and length before deciding on which road to take for your next mountain cycling trip!
Let’s Talk About the Bike
Taking on the mountain trail means that you’re going to need a bike first and foremost: It’s the first object that you should start researching as part of your hobby – and it’s one of the factors that can make all of the difference in how comfortable your experience is going to be.
A few decades ago, bikes were naturally uncomfortable things, especially for women: Today, this is pretty far from the truth – and there are many bikes designed with women in mind.
- A comfortable, sturdy bike designed with your needs in mind guarantees a great experience: A bad or unsuited cycle for mountain biking guarantees that you’re far more likely to hate it and give up the pastime.
Why do women need a different mountain bike than men do in the first place? Shouldn’t everyone be equal?
The first thing you should know is that equality has nothing to do with it! Comfort and speed do.
- If you’re still wondering why women and men need different cycles for serious mountain biking, try sitting on a male-suited bicycle for a while. It’s uncomfortable and it’s likely that your rear, hips and legs will hurt within the first ten minutes.
The same way, males should give female bikes a try. It’ll have the same effect, with some parts being in the way of where the seat should be.
It’s the easiest way to realize the difference between the two bikes (and to realize the reason why bikes are designed differently!).
Choose a suitable mountain bike from a leading mountain biking manufacturer.
Some good ones are Raleigh, GT Bikes, Santa Cruz, Cannondale, Santa Cruz and Masti: All of these have women-specific models that have been designed with maximum speed, comfort and durability in mind – and with models in their range at different price points so that you’re guaranteed to find the right one to fit you.
What Do Women Wear for Mountain Biking?
Other than your bike and general mountain cycling gear, one of the most important factors about comfortable (and safe) mountain cycling is what you wear.
Clothing suited to mountain biking is about a lot more than making a fashion statement: Instead, mountain biking-specific clothing is all about practicality and comfort – and of course, about aerodynamics and speed.
How you move on a bike (and how you feel when you do) has everything to do with what you wear.
If you’ve ever seen footage of a cycling competition, you’ll notice that nobody is wearing loose-fitting, cotton clothing and everybody has their hair tightly tied up. Why? Clothing reacts to wind – and clothing designated as meant for cycling hug tightly to the body for the best results when cruising through.
Clothing meant for mountain biking is meant to keep you gliding through the wind instead of pushing against it; MTB-purpose clothing is also meant to stop any rubbing or chafing, which can be a nightmare when you’re on a bike.
Hair is tied up for obvious reasons: Yes, accidents can (and do) happen.
The right shoes are also part of the outfit: There are biking specific shoes, usually ones without laces that have the potential to cause accidents when on a trail, and usually ones that are comfortable for biking and have the right amount of grip on the pedals.
Here are a few tips for how to find the right clothing for the next mountain biking trip you plan:
- Clothing in the Right Size: Mountain biking clothing should be the right size to conform to your body – and that means no bigger or smaller than it needs to be. If this means going to a store and fitting a few options rather than ordering online, do it rather than ordering something you won’t be comfortable with.
- Shoes in the Right Fit: Mountain biking shoes are not unlike hiking shoes in the sense that an uncomfortable pair can make the experience hell – and has been the reason many people thought that the hobby wasn’t for them. You want shoes with grip, and shoes that fit you properly. Again, try a few options before finally deciding on what size suits you best: For once, shoes can be picked exclusively for how comfortable you’ll find them in the long-run!
- Women-Specific Clothing is Out There: You wouldn’t pick a brand that you have no experience with when choosing your ideal bike, so don’t make that mistake when you pick your clothing. Side with women-specific clothing manufacturers that already have a good reputation for great clothing: It guarantees that you’ll be more comfortable and that whatever you spend your money on here will be worth it.
Choosing a Trail
One of the most important things any mountain biking enthusiast has to think about once they’ve chosen their clothing, bike and gear is which trails to take on. The first thing to know is that there are great trails located all over the United States – and internationally if you’re based outside the US or have the luxury of traveling further to find your biking trails.
The second thing you should know is that mountain biking trails come in several different forms, several different lengths and several different difficulty levels.
- Most biking trails are ranked according to length and difficulty level.
- Longer biking trails usually have shorter, beginner-suited routes OR longer, advanced cycling options.
- For safety (and fun), most biking trails happen as part of a group and as part of agencies who book, administrate and book your tour for you.
- Choose shorter trails on level terrain if you are new to mountain biking or switching over from regular road biking.
- Step it up to longer lengths of shorter trails (or harder terrain trails) when you feel that you’re ready (and you’ve gotten more used to the handling of your bike).
- Get in touch with groups and other mountain bikers for them to recommend great trails in your area suited to your skill level.
- The best trails are about challenging yourself, but never about pushing yourself further than your body is willing to take. Pay attention to your body and rest or turn back if you start to feel tired.
Mountain Biking Resources
Don’t let your exploitative journey into the great sport of mountain biking stop here.
There are many more resources that stretch beyond this website, most of which can expand your network of trails, knowledge and people who enjoy the activity just as much as you do internationally or locally.
Some mountain biking resources are geared at news, others at connecting bikers to their ideal trails, while others are social networks for bikers to get to know others in the same space.
Here are some of the best and most reliable international mountain biking resources for women. Remember to check out any local resources in your town, city or state, too: There’s guaranteed to be even more close to you.
- The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)
The International Mountain Biking Association (also known as the IMBA) is one of the largest organizations catering to both male and female mountain biking enthusiasts all over the world. Their membership spans thousands of enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals worldwide – and it’s one of the first recommended places to go if you want to start taking biking more seriously.
They organize a lot of meets, a lot of events, and you can also go here to find out more about international competitive mountain biking.
See their women-specific section at the link for more information on worldwide female biking events and how to join their ranks.
- The Women’s Cycling Association (WMA)
The Women’s Cycling Association (also known as the WMA) is one of the largest representative USA organizations for female cyclists and mountain bikers; it caters to both road and off-road enthusiasts – and it makes for another great resource that you have to check out if you want to find the essential information on trails (and other mountain and road bikers) in your area.
If you’re looking for more local resources closer to where you live, they’re also a great place to ask for a referral to the right Association or group in your state.
- USA Cycling
USA Cycling is one of the home base websites that all female cycling enthusiasts should know about. The website contains news, tips, reviews of gear and important trail reviews and tips that you should know. It’s a great website to keep bookmarked on a permanent basis, and you’ll want to check back at least a few times per week if you want to be more serious about your mountain biking journey.
- Total Women’s Cycling Magazine
Great biking and cycling resources include more than just websites: There are hundreds of magazines and smaller newsletters that cater to the mountain biking market – and then a few great select picks that specifically cater to the women’s cycling scene, which is far more vibrant than most people might have expected.
Total Women’s Cycling Magazine is a regular publication on women’s cycling and one of the best you can possibly subscribe to if you want to know everything there is to know about cycling for that stretch, including what trails to check out internationally.
- Women’s Cycling News and Race Results
For the select groups who are more into competitive sport rather than cycling or biking for leisure reasons, here’s a great website to look at for general cycling news, sports news and more specific results. The link above takes you straight to race results and news for women’s cycling, although the rest of the website contains news on cycling and everything else if you have the time to browse.