Mountain biking: Tips for beginners from O.J. Schinness

This is the second in a three-part series on mountain biking. Today standout skier/mountain biker/daredevil Adam “O.J.” Schinness offers tips for beginners.

There are mountain bike trails in every state in the country and they provide great cross training when combined with your treadmill, exercise bike and weightlifting routines.
According to veteran outdoors athlete O.J. Schinness, mountain biking is a sport just about anyone who can ride a bike can do. Depending on someone’s fitness level and experience, there are various difficulty levels for courses they can try.
For someone just starting out, it’s very important to get the right kind of bicycle, Schinness said.
“Some bike stores will tell beginners they should get a mountain bike with full suspension, but you really only need a hard-tail bike with front suspension,” Schinness said. “Even as someone who’s rode for a long time, I Still like it (with just front suspension). You don’t lose any of the power going to the back wheel (as is the case with full suspension).”
When it comes to foot pedals, don’t go for the elite level too quick there either.
“There are basic pedals, where your foot floats; intermediates where the toes go inside straps; and then advanced with clip-ins,” Schinness said. “I would recommend for any beginners to get pedals with the toe straps — not the clip-ins.”
With the clip-in pedals, it’s a lot tougher to get your feet out quickly when you start losing your balance.
“You can get power pulling up with straps or clip-ins, but it’s a lot easier to tip over with clip-ins,” Schiness said.
When it comes to braking, Schinness said the front brakes provide the most power.
“Don’t be afraid to use the front brakes, even going down a hill,” said Schinness, dispelling the myth that it’s more common to go flying over the front handle bars if you use the front brakes. “Keep your weight centered on the bike, but be ready to lean back if you have to break hard going down a big hill.”

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at