I'm just starting again myself, I've been a mountain biker for about 5 years and then I stopped, because I moved out from my parents house were I was able to ride every day during the summer months and most of the days during spring/fall for college back in the day and I wasn't able to ride anymore or even afford money and time wise.
Originally Posted by nemesis256
I know the simple answer is "yes", but I have a lot of questions and concerns. This was inspired by the "Dealing with skill atrophy" thread. I know almost nothing about mountain biking.
1. The primary reason is so I can ski better than I would otherwise next season. But how much will biking help with only pavement trails and easy, mostly flat "real" mountain biking trails? That's obviously where I'll have to start. I'm sure the exercise itself will help with skiing, but is the biggest gain from riding up and down?
It will help you mostly to keep you moving and doing something fun during the off season (winter). I don't see a direct connection between mtb and skiing, but of course it keeps you active and doing some outdoor sport which is nice! You don't need to start on pavement, there are lots of beginner trails that are not steep enough to make it impossible for a beginner to climb and/or go down. But don't think you can forget the gym, be aware that ski, mtb and mostly all sports will require you to keep your body in good shape and with some basic strength, you don't get that from skiing or mountain biking, you get that from working the basics at a gym, this goes a long way to avoid injuries.
2. Another concern is the cost. I'd like to spend no more than $500 on a bicycle, but I don't know if that gets a good enough bicycle to eventually do intermediate level trails. Then there's all the accessories. Helmet, clothing, bike rack for the car, no idea what else. What do I need?
$500 should get you a decent aluminum hardtail and you will be able to ride beginner/intermediate level trails! Other than that, here's what I was told by most of my friends that ride. You will need:
1 - helmet
2 - full finger gloves
3 - hydration (camelbak/similar or a water bottle)
4 - some pocket tools, you need to be able to fix your tire if you get a flat in the middle of a trail
This is basically what you need, you don't really need mtb specific clothes to start with, it's good to have mtb shorts but it really depends on how comfortable/uncomfortable you might get if you spend a lot of time in your bike, but it's not on the must have list. A car rack, that can get pretty expensive too, if you can't ride to the trails than you will need one, search on craigslist to find good deals, buy from a friend that doesn't use anymore, replaced by something elase.
3. A big concern is injury. Falling off a bicycle is a lot more serious than falling on skis. Other than a helmet obviously, what do people typically wear? Some type of padding that gets way too hot? Or just something thin that at least covers elbows and knees?
Really depends how much risk you wanna take and how hard you ride. From your description you shouldn't need anything other than a helmet and some gloves.
4. I'm not sure how much I would actually do this. I hate the heat and humidity and getting sweaty, so there's a chance I won't do very much from mid-June to mid-September. Does proper clothing keep you more comfortable and prevent some of the wet sticky shirts?
Like any other sport clothes. Synthetic or wool sports stuff, stay away from cotton, think about base layers for skiing, the rules are almost the same.
5. Is proper technique and difficult thing to achieve, similar to skiing? Or do you just do what's most comfortable (went to sit down or not, proper gear to be in, whatever)? Are lessons necessary or is reading about it good enough?
I'm assuming you know how to ride a bike, most of us learn as kids, so just go and ride. Riding a bike is much easier than skiing for a beginner where you need instruction, if you compare mtb with skiing you start of already cruising green/blue groomers, and as things get more difficult and are gonna have to get some tips, advice from someone with experience. But remember, when you started skiing and didn't even know how to click in your bindings, you are starting mtb but you already know how to ride a bike!
6. Does anyone know of shops near Boston where I can demo bikes on an easy trail?
Go to local dealers and ask about demos, search on bike brands website for a list of demo tour cities. I'd be surprised if you don't see some in your area. Tomorrow there is a trek demo in Haverhill, Winnekenni Park, and I'm sure there will be more demos in Boston from different brands.