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Mountain biking/equestrian fitness

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  • Mountain biking/equestrian fitness

    I am currently a horseless dressage rider rehabing my mare and waiting for her filly to grow up. I have horses, therefore I have no money. I'm getting older and fatter by the week and am thinking about buying a mountain bike. I don't know much about them, but they look like fun and great exercise. No vet bills or feed bills either. Does anyone have any experience with riding a mountain bike and how it affects your riding muscles? Seems a silly question, but I'm looking for a way to get fit that's fun and will not ruin my physique for riding. Don't want to find out in 6 months that my exercise program had negative results on my riding and developed the wrong muscles.

  • #2
    I mountain bike and love it, but beware....your calves may change shape. I had to get new boots this year. No biggie for me since I've had my old ones forever, but its something you may want to be aware of.
    The greatest gift you can ever give is taking their pain away and making it your own. Wear that pain like a tribute to the love you shared. Laurierace


    • #3
      i mountain bike too!

      love it!
      great workout. really opens up your lungs.
      i never thought of how it affects my riding.

      where are you located? if you're in nj i can recommend some fun trails
      TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


      • Original Poster

        I am in SE PA. Fair Hill is a 20-25 minute drive with a horse trailer and they have loads of trails for mountain bikes. I have zippers in my dressage boots, so if my calves get a little larger-no problem. I just don't want to shorten my leg or get muscle bound (ha, ha) or lose my flexibility and suppleness (ha, ha again). What does a MB cost? I'm not talking imported warmblood here, but a good old US bred bike that is capable of carrying me comfortably on trails.


        • #5
          I LOVE biking. I started biking to work this summer. I packed on so much muscle that I couldn't fit in my boots AT ALL and nearly couldn't fit into anything off the rack. I wound up buying an expensive pair of boots last minute because I had a show and hadn't tried on my old boots in forever.

          The whole situation pissed me off enough that I stopped riding my bike. Now my old boots fit again.

          So, if you're someone that builds muscle well, your calves may REALLY bulk up. Not just a little bit.


          • #6
            MB is a total blast, great excercise too. Out here in the PNW we have lots of slimy logs and rocks which are great for honing your balance. You should be able to get into a decent TREK or Cannondale entry level bike for $500 -$700, you can spend a ton more if you want a super light bike with all the bells and whistles/
            If the world was truly a rational place, men would ride sidesaddle. ~ Rita Mae Brown


            • #7
              check out this website

              mtbr.com for some great feedback and discussions. there are women only topics, there are newbie topics, trail reviews, product reviews. read up on stuff.

              bikes really vary and generally having good components is more important than having a super light frame (for a while there it seems that's all everyone cared about is the weight of the frame).

              i ride on an old steel frame bike w/ some upgraded components. rode in my brother's old seat until this fall when i finally had to get a seat replaced b/c the other was literally coming apart at the seams. my bike has front suspension only. and personally i think for newbies that's a better way to go. it teaches you to get out of the seat. when i started riding i had a full suspension bike and it was much more foregiving if you didn't get out of the seat, so i wasn't learning to get my butt up.

              fair hill is a great place to learn and explore. enjoy!
              TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


              • #8
                I need to get back on my bike (but my new job with and 1 1/2 commute isn't helping!).

                Biking is fun, it is one of the few exerises I enjoy! Your legs will bulk up though, for me it was less my calves, but my thighs got huge! But they also got strong. My dressage trainer told me to be careful with how much upper leg I was using. My new found legs were so powerful it was easy for me to get carried away!

                On a side note, my hubbie is a pro mt. Biker, and I have learned a lot from him. Its REALLY important to go to a GOOD bike shop and get a good fitting.

                A bike that fits poorly will make riding no fun (sore back, bum, numb hands). A well fitted bike will make you more secure, balanced and comfortable.
                APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                • #9
                  I used to MTB race, and was in the best shape of my life. It is excellent, fun exercise. I've been out of it a few years but I'm starting to ride more, weather permitting. Never had any adverse effects on my riding.

                  Two things....have your bike professionally fitted, and get a GOOD bike. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg, but get something decent with a good component group. This will heighten your enjoyment and prevent frustration.


                  • #10
                    My BF bought me a Kona mountain bike this year for my bday. It was a Fire Mountain model and cost around $500. I was told the bike was really good for an all around newbie in the Mountain Biking.

                    I love to bike, but I will say that I am not that brave when it comes to the hard core trails. You can put me on any bucking bronco horse you can find and I have nerves of steel, but some of the trails around me have me more like a quivering baby.

                    I sprang my ankle the first day out on my bike trying to keep up with my BF and have been overly cautious ever since. So my advice, get a capable bike, then start easy and advance to big, sounds easy but apparently I was not that smart about it!!!!!!


                    • #11
                      protective gear will make you braver.

                      i ride like a different person in armour than without.
                      i did do a faceplant in october and it scared me enough to pull out my full face helmet again. but knowing me after a couple of months of riding in a full face, i'll go back to the regular helmet

                      i agree w/ others. fit is important. poorly fitting bike will make you ache and struggle and will take all the pleasure out of riding.
                      TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Katy9532 View Post
                        I love to bike, but I will say that I am not that brave when it comes to the hard core trails. You can put me on any bucking bronco horse you can find and I have nerves of steel, but some of the trails around me have me more like a quivering baby.
                        I have the same problem. At first, I was fearless, but then I had an accident on an obstacle that shouldn't have been a problem, and now I find myself getting off and walking over things that I used to ride over. I feel like horses almost always give me some warning. My bike has no mercy.
                        You are what you dare.


                        • Original Poster

                          Wow! There is alot more to this than I thought. So much for thinking I could buy a used bike out of the paper for 100 bucks. Think I need to find someone who has one and try it out before making that kind of investment. Do they actually make full face helmets for biking, or do you use a motorcycle helmet? Years ago I rode dirt bikes (lots of old injuries from too many crash and burns) and had a 550cc street bike. Now I ride with hubby on his bike. My full face MC helmet seems like it would be too bulky. I was thinking of using my Troxel Dakota. Is it possible to pick up a used bike for a fairly cheap price? Maybe one that bit it's owner too many times. Thank you all for the responses. I know that in the past when I have taken my horse to Fair Hill to trail ride the moountain bike people always look like they are having a blast! Definately don't need these thighs to bulk up though


                          • #14
                            they make full faces bicycle helmets

                            they kind of look like the helmets guys riding BMX's have.
                            mine is made by Bell

                            you can get a used bike. you just have to figure out what you need size and fit wise. and if you rode dirt, you should have less of a learning curve on mtb.

                            i'm an avid trail rider (competed in distance riding until my mare's suspensory injury) and i find the same attraction in riding mountain bikes that got me into trail riding. i'm outside, on awesome trails, doing physical work, covering lots of ground.

                            (but definitely not on a $100 walmart bike)
                            TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                            • #15
                              My best suggestion would be to go to a good bike store have them fit you for a bike. .

                              I went to a bike store, they found me the right size, and told me what to look for in a bike. I looked on criagslist and found that I was much smaller than most the bikes for sale on there. I went to some used bike stores, and they had a HUGE selection. All in all I still ended up buying new, because I could not find the right size for me.


                              • #16
                                Good bike shops will have rental Mt bikes. That way you can try it out for a weekend and see what you like (hard tail or soft tail etc).
                                APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                                • Original Poster

                                  Looked at Mountain Bikes!

                                  Update. I looked at mountain Bikes yesterday, and have a few questions. I do think this is still horse related as I'm doing this for fitness while my horse rehabs. The store put me on a 20" frame. The bike was a Raleigh and had disc brakes. Well, after weaving all over the store on it (haven't been on a bicycle for over 3o years) I got the hang of it and it seems like fun! For those of you who ride and bike, how high up should the frame be when you straddle the bike with your feet on the ground? I had maybe 1 1/2-2" clearance which the shop said was good but that I felt was a bit close. I like the disc brakes. I sat on several bikes and the ones with the longer frame stretched me out too much. Any suggestions for a bike that has more clearance, shorter frame, disc brakes and aluminum frame that won't break the bank? Thanks


                                  • #18
                                    A good bike shop will take the time to set the bike up properly for you...but I'll go straddle my MT bike.....mine is an inch and a halfish. I would look at Specialized (my fave, and they have a great women's specific line), Trek (my road bike is a Trek, but they make great MT bikes, too), Cannondale, Gary Fisher...those are some of my favorites, I think they all have WS lines, and all have decent entry level bikes.

                                    I love biking in general, and when I'm fit and strong (ie, not right now) I love to mountain bike. Unfortuanately, I've been bad all fall, and haven't ridden. My road bike is set up on the trainer at home, though, so I'll be doing some mindless trainer rides to get started again.

                                    While your calves might get big and you will definitely have more defined legs, you won't get massive and muscle bound. Cyclists have long, lean muscles (go look at pictures of pro MT bikers. They are fit and trim, more like marathon runners). MT biking is also and endurance sport, so being big and bulky will not be good. It is more akin to running then weightlifting.

                                    Make sure you get a good helmet, just like with horses, and find some good people to go out with at first who will help teach you proper bike handling technique. There are also clinics, just like with horses, and there are a lot out there geared for beginners. mtrb.com is a great resource, like someone else mentioned. Have fun!!!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks Yellowbritches. I plan to rent a bike to see if my body (discs, ligament damage, etc.) can deal with MB'ing before I spend the money. Looks like I can get a MB w/disc brakes for around $550.00. WaY too much money though if my back can't take it. I sat on one bike that was long and made me stretch out too much. I know that would hurt my lumbar back area. Guess I need to go out and do it. A local shop rents bikes for $25.00/day. I hope that if I rent a bike for 2 days I'lll get an idea whether I can handle it. This shop also will apply the rental money to a new bike. Unfortunately, it isn't the shop I want to buy a bike from. Any other information, opinions, etc. are much appreciated. This handwalking/not riding is making me crazy. Need to do something active and outdoors.


                                      • #20

                                        i have serious back problems as well. mtb doesn't hurt me (at least not any more than sitting on the couch does), however, i found that tweaking the bike's geometrics is crucial. even adjusting the handlebars 1/2 inch forward or back can make a difference.
                                        keep that in mind when trying the bike. b/c although the frame may theoretically fit you, there is a lot more to the geometry of the bike. so you may have to play with the position of the seat and the handlebars to find the best position for you. also, if you're just starting out, you may feel sore not b/c of the bike or the exercise but b/c you're using muscles in the way they're not used to being used.
                                        TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique