Suzie - We are always excited to see people interested in starting to mountain biking! Here are some recommendations.
Even if you are very fit it is helpful for a beginner to start on the Bartram Lake Trail (it has much more flat surface and that will allow you to learn to control your bike and get comfortable with it before tackling FATS).
If you don't already have a bike I'd recommend your borrowing a bike at least for the first time and giving the sport a whirl before you start investing in a bike, helmet, etc - depending on your height, we would be happy to take you out on the Bartram Trail and bring the essentials you need for your first ride - you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you prefer to wing it on your own - a decent quality bike that is fitted to you can be purchased at one of the local bike shops, they will get you into a bike and equipment you will need to get started up, bike shorts, water bottle or hydration pack, helmet, gloves, etc.
Feel free to contact us for any help along the way!
The Fat Tire Foxes have monthly ladies rides that are posted and always welcome new riders to participate. The next one is at FATS but they are also held at the Bartram Lake Trail as well!
It can be very helpful for beginning women to ride with other women starting out.
I would recommend you try the Bartram Trail first, it's more beginner friendly than FATS, and is a great trail for your first taste of singletrack riding.
Do you have a bike already? If not, visit one of our local bike shops like Andy Jordans or Chain Reaction (both big supporters of the local MTB scene) and they'll get you sorted out. If you already have a bike, make sure it's in good condition. Working brakes, tires that hold air, no loose bolts, etc. The local bike shops can also tune up/inspect your bike to make sure it's ready to ride. Wal-mart and other department store bikes are notorious for being sold with parts that don't work properly or are installed backwards or have loose bolts.
Other things you'll need: -helmet - don't ride without one -water - bottles or a hydration pack, carry as much as you can
Things that are highly recommended: -flat repair kit - flat tires happen, if you can't fix it you have to walk a long ways back to your car -gloves - more comfortable and provide a protection when you fall
That stuff should be enough to get you started, then once you're hooked you can start getting all the other stuff like bike specific clothing and all that.
Have fun! Try and join the FTF's for a ride, they'll show you the ropes!
Thanks guys, for the advice. I actually do have a mountain bike. It's not a very expensive one, my hubby got it a Kmart I think. It should be ok to try and see if I indeed like the sport! If I do like it, I will invest in a better bike. I have a helmet and I do have cycle shoes ( I use them for spin class) I will definitely try out the Bartram Trail first. I've gotta buy a bike rack first. We shoved the bike in the trunk of our Nissan Sentra to bring it home from the store and it wasn't the best fit
My friends and I are thinking of heading to FATS this Saturday. Never been there before, and have less than a years experience, all on relatively flat low-country trails. Will someone please post some trail etiquette pointers? Like what should you do when riders behind you are moving faster then you, or who has the right-of-way when riders meet head-on, things like that. I don't want to be the PITA everyone is talking about at the end of the day
When a rider comes up behind and wants to pass, he/she will tell you, usually with an "on your left". Your job is to then make a little room, but only when you can (i.e., not immediately if you're not comfortable doing it right then). You don't have to stop, just move over a little. Its their job to pass safely. Usually people want to pass on your left, so move right unless they say otherwise. Sometimes the overtaking rider will just let you know they want by whenever you're ready. In that case, move over when you can and its safe, and they'll go by.
Head on, the standard rule is the rider going uphill has the right of way. In practice, both riders work together and give each other space. Again, people will generally go by on your left, so move right.