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Extreme Mountain Biking

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 3/31/2010

Extreme mountain biking is for those riders who caught the bug so bad they want more challenges, steeper hills, longer treks and access to terrain parks designed specifically with hard core cyclists, veritable mountain men and women on two ruggedly fat wheels, in mind. Read on to discover more.

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    Hardcore Mountain Bikers

    Extreme mountain biking enthusiasts are rugged and supremely conditioned riders pushing their physical capabilities to the limit. These athletes have honed their skills to an extremely high degree. Mountain biking novices would end up in the hospital or maybe worse doing some of the things that they do. Their mountain bikes are virtually an extension of their own bodies and I’d like to imagine that when they are really in the zone, the line between human and machine fades as each can feel the most subtle variances at the level of atoms and cells. Exercise and Stress Control: Relaxed Intensity discusses a mindset athletes like this have when they’re in the zone.

    Pushing the edges of control in extreme sports is enthralling, addicting, and a whole lot easier when you’re a teenager, before the toll collector of consequence tokens has exacted too many payments. Many might say that it’s crazy and the risks are too high, but I understand the need to produce ample supplies of adrenaline while straddling the edge. Like many other combat veterans, sometimes I only feel really alive the closer I am to death. Then again, I don’t ride my mountain bike like these crazy bikers do, but they sure are fun to watch.

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    Watch How They Do It to Improve Your Own Skills

    ABC-OF-Mountain Biking Here’s a compilation of videos to see what I’m talking about at Google Videos. Watching these and other videos can help you improve your own skills. Pay particular attention to the rider’s stance on their bikes, how they position themselves for steep downhill runs, hairpin turns, jumps, and bumps. Seeing them in action on terrain that will be much more extreme and demanding than the rest of us normally handle will help improve skills. Those exaggerated movements clarify riding techniques on your basic to semi-technical single track trails. Riders proficient in extreme mountain biking can ride over obstacles that would otherwise seem impossible to pass. There are even riders who can ride along something as narrow as a metal fence line (Urban Riding) that isn’t even at a uniform height.

    Don't think winter necessarily means your mountain bike has to remain hibernating. For the hardy souls out there willing to brave the cold winds that two speedy wheels bring about, the opportunity is still there. Depending upon where you live, investing in some studded tires might be in order, along with a good degree of confidence and skill. You'll definitely find it useful to read How to Dress for Winter Mountain Biking before you venture out there though. Full body coverage is discussed there, along with the best products and fabrics. Believe it or not, a little duct tape is even thrown into the mix.

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    The Five Categories of Extreme Mountain Biking

    1. Downhill Mountain Biking (discussed in detail in the 2nd article of this series by that title).
    2. Cross Country (XC) - entails long rides (30 miles usually) across rugged, hilly (mountainous) terrain that can be steep and dangerous.
    3. Dirt Jumping is for the stunt riders out there taking on the big jumps, which toss them in the air for aerial displays that are astounding.
    4. Free Riding combines just about everything, any style, and might include downhill courses with jumps, perilous cliff drops, stunts and anything else that a human can possibly do with a bike.
    5. Urban Riding is about riding on ledges and fences like I discussed earlier. These artists make use of what's around in urban jungles to display their prowess.

    Terrain parks for mountain bikes are popping up in more and more places around the world. They’re usually at or around ski resorts, but that’s not always the case. Read an upcoming article about the epic mountain biking opportunities in Whistler, British Columbia to learn about one such place. Then use any of the links and sources in this series to find a terrain park or race that may be close to you or somewhere that you want to travel to. That wraps up this series about all things mountain biking. Just remember: whatever level you’re at, it’s all about having fun and appreciating the grace and beauty of the natural world (even when it’s passing by at blazing speeds).

    Sources:

    MountainBiking.com http://www.mountainbiking.com/

    Big Sky Cyclery, Helena MT http://www.bigskybikes.com/

    http://www.abc-of-mountainbiking.com/info/extreme-mountain-biking.asp