Beginners Guide To Mountain Biking with Halfords

When it comes to mountain biking, are you more likely to go shredding, or end up OTB? (Hint: if you don’t know what these terms are, check out the guide below!) If you are a novice, or are yet to try it out but are keen to have a go, then this is the post for you!

Mountain biking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy spending time outdoors. It is an excellent way to keep fit; fantastic for health and wellbeing. Not only that, with so many tracks to choose from throughout the UK, it can also inspire and motivate people to see more of the country too. Plus it is a lovely clean, eco- friendly hobby (or is it a sport?!) as well. So basically, it is pretty much perfect!

Whilst I am somewhat of a beginner myself, I do have some excellent expert tips to get you started, thanks to this very handy Halfords Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking, and also with the help of some very experienced fellow bloggers too…

Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Choose The Correct Bike

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mountain bike; style of frame, wheel size, type of tyre and what type of mountain bike itself. The Beginner’s guide talks you through these considerations, so check that out for further details. Halfords stock a great range of mountain bikes, so you’re bound to find the ideal one for you!

With regard to the type of bike; there is front suspension, full suspension and electric. I have noticed that electric mountain bikes can sometimes get negative press, as they are seen as ‘cheating’ or somehow missing the point. However, there are also benefits to them, as this article explains. I particularly wanted to give them a quick mention though, because I believe they might potentially make mountain biking more accessible for some SEND people, so that is certainly worth noting.

Get the Gear

Any experienced mountain biker will tell you, having the right equipment is absolute key! Safety gear – helmet, elbow and knee pads, and gloves – are essential. Welsh Mum also suggests mudguards so your legs don’t get covered, waterproof gear, a comfortable backpack, and the right shoes and socks all make a big difference. Check out the gear list in the Halfords guide.

Chronicles of Theo mountain biking

Image: Chronicles of Theo mountain biking.

Bike Trails

There are trails all over the UK and they are helpfully colour coded to a standard grading system, so you can pick the right level of difficulty. Green is the beginners route, if you are just starting out. You can find out more about locations in the Halfords guide. (Told you, it’s super useful!)

Expert Advice

Miss LJ Beauty spends a huge part of her life mountain biking, and has been lucky enough to travel the world. Here is her advice:

Why not join a local mountain biking group? To find like minded people of all ability’s The key to learning is have fun! Mountain biking is progressive sport there are always new things to learn. No matter what level you are. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone on a trail! We are a friendly bunch And are more than happy to help!

Get on your bike and come shredding!

Miss LJ Beauty Fort William down hill

Image: Miss LJ Beauty on Fort William down hill.

Have you been mountain biking? Why do you love it? Where is your favourite trail? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords.

Scuba Diving: The Amazing Benefits & An Inspirational Story From Grace, Junior Master Diver

Have you ever tried scuba diving? It is a far more accessible and affordable sport than many might think. We have a diving club in our town, as I am sure alot of places do, and much of the equipment can be borrowed on loan. If you are looking to purchase your own essentials too, scuba diving experts Simply Scuba have an excellent range.

Black and white photo of grace scuba diving with title 'Scuba Diving: The Amazing Benefits & An Inspirational Story From A Young Master Diver'.

There are many benefits to scuba diving; it provides an excellent physical workout and is great for mental wellbeing too. I have written before about the positive impact on the mind of being in water, so it is a brilliant activity from that perspective. It connects people to our natural environment, which ispires and motivates us to protect it – again something I feel passionate about!

I got in touch with a young Junior Master Diver to find out more about scuba diving. She has been diving since the age of 10 and now, at the age of 14, she has an incredible 14 certificates related to scuba diving. This is Grace’s inspirational story and what she says about scuba diving…

A selfie of Grace scuba diving.

I learnt to dive in Egypt with my dad when I was 10 years old. (That’s the youngest you can do the first course). I did one dive in the sea; I would like to say that I loved the whole dive but I had a bit of a wobble at the beginning. I was so close to not doing it, but I am glad I did because I don’t know what my interests would be now if I haven’t started that dive. After I got used to it, I thought every second was amazing!

I love that when I am diving I can switch off from everything outside, all you can hear is the bubbles you breathe and once you have good buoyancy you feel weightless. Now I have been diving for 4 years I have been able to do all of the main courses I can do for my age; I am now a Junior Master Diver and, as soon as I turn 18, I am hoping to get my Dive Master, which will let me be an instructor later.

I would like to be able to teach people to dive because I think that more younger people especially need to experience it. A lot of people think that it is too expensive, or they don’t have the opportunity to do it, but if you look, even around London where I live, there are plenty of dive clubs that you can go to that will train you, and you don’t need any of your own equipment. It is only as expensive as you want to make it.

My best diving moment was probably doing part of my rescue course at night in a cavern in Florida. It was almost pitch black so we were diving with torches. It was only my instructor, my dad and me in the cavern and I have never seen anything like it. The rock illuminated by our lights was just unbelievably stunning, but at the same time it was such a big open place that it was quite eerie. I didn’t know what was coming, but my instructor had told my dad before the dive to go ‘missing’ so I had to deal with it underwater. I found him but when I turned round my instructor had gone ‘missing’ as well. He wasn’t far away but he was pretending to be unconscious (I could tell he wasn’t because of his bubbles).

I dealt with it how I was taught but as I was bringing him to the surface he started acting like a panicked diver; he was kicking and grabbing at me to see how I would react. At one point he knocked my mask off and pulled off both of my fins (flippers for people that don’t dive). I managed to handle the situation and get him out of the water by literally dragging myself and him across the top of this cavern. It was stressful but I remember having a massive smile on my face because I knew that if something that extreme happened in real life I could deal with it and I had confidence in myself, and my dad, as divers. 

My best achievement is becoming a Junior Master Diver in 2016. Since I have been diving I have met so many interesting people, and a lot of adults say that diving is sometimes more social because in the end you spend more time out of the water than in it.

My certifications:

•PADI Junior Open Water

•PADI Junior Advanced open water

•PADI Junior Project Aware

•NAUI First Aid

•NASE Drysuit Diver

•NASE Rescue Diver

•NASE First aid and CPR

•NASE Oxygen Provider

•NASE Night Diver

•NASE Nitrox 1 Diver

•NASE Navigation

•NASE Equipment Specialist

•NASE Digital Imaging

•NASE Cavern Diver

•NASE Wreck Diver

•NASE Junior master Diver

I would recommend that people should give diving a go even if it doesn’t appeal to them. I have known people that thought they weren’t that bothered about it, but once they tried it they thought it was awesome. Also, you don’t have to be a good swimmer to learn how to dive, you just have to have confidence in the water. Any age can dive, but in the future it would be great if we could see more younger people taking part in the sport.

You can find Grace over on Instagram and her photography page for underwater pictures is grace.w.photography. There is also a video clip of Grace’s photography that she took during a dive recently on YouTube too…

I was interested that Grace mentioned drysuit diving, which is something I hadn’t heard of, so I looked it up to find out more. According to PADI website “A dry suit seals you off from the water and keeps you comfortable, even in surprisingly cold water. There is incredible diving in the world’s cooler regions and in some areas, conditions are even better in colder months. Becoming a dry suit diver allows you to expand your boundaries and dive more places, more often.” So basically, it allows you to dive in colder waters, which sounds great for travelling opportunities and finding new diving experiences. Amazing!

Scuba diving is something I am yet to try but I am certainly very sold on the benefits! Squiggle will be old enough soon too, and I would definitely give her the opportunity to try it out, if she would like to. Perfect for both body and mind.

A photo of Grace scuba diving.

Thanks Grace for sharing your story and inspiring us all!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.