Is downhill mountain biking in Méribel the sport for you?

July 13, 2022

Contrary to general opinion, you don't need to be an adrenaline junkie to try downhill biking and love it!

But is downhill biking really for you, and should you set out on Méribel’s mountain bike trails this summer?

To answer these questions, we asked Alex Bastien, a mountain bike instructor at the MCF school in Méribel, to explain the best way to get into downhill mountain biking – and without scaring yourself. Here, he describes how, with the right equipment and the right teaching, you can learn in a gradual way on trails that allow you to control your speed, so you enjoy it from the start.

How should you get started in downhill mountain biking?

The first idea to demolish about downhill mountain biking is that you know how to mountain bike because you can ride a bike. In fact, the technical skills are quite different and the best cyclists are not de facto good mountain bikers. When you start skiing, you take lessons. The approach should be the same for mountain biking, because if you launch yourself down the slope without any experience or advice, you risk missing out on enjoying this sport, which in fact can be enjoyed by all.

Alex Bastien, mountain bike instructor at the MCF school in Méribel explains: “We take beginners to the right place at the right time with the right equipment. With these three elements, a good part of the equation is solved so that their introduction to the sport goes well. Secondly, whether you are a pro or a beginner, you have to keep repeating the basic actions, such as mastering use the front brake, which is the more important one in all riding sports. Almost everyone learns to ride a bike, but very few people really know how to ride properly and that’s what you learn with an instructor.

What will you learn during an introductory session with an instructor?

Tuition is essential to start off on the right foot. Going with an instructor guarantees you will enjoy a memorable experience and learn a new, exciting activity. For example, during an introductory session with an instructor, you will learn to:

  • control your mountain bike on easy terrain (because setting off without any prior experience on difficult terrain with rocks, sand or roots is like putting a beginner skier on a red run without teaching them how to turn and stop) ;
  • read the terrain to anticipate any difficulties and adapt your speed (because, as in skiing, the majority of accidents result from uncontrolled speed and lack of anticipation).

As a mountain bike school, we think that the relationship with the instructor is one of the most important things. It’s what allows you to learn the basic techniques without any worries. Therefore we take the time to explain all about braking skills and how to tackle obstacles. Once these technical skills are mastered, there’s no reason to worry about the descent“. Alex Bastien, mountain bike instructor at Méribel’s MCF school.

3 tips for safe downhill mountain biking

  • Tip n° 1: Wear the right equipment

    With the right mountain bike and appropriate protection, the risk of serious injury is greatly reduced. You can rent all the necessary mountain biking protective gear in Méribel’s sports shops and bike rental shops: helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, back protector, chest protector, mountain bike shoes etc.

  • Tip n° 2: study the trails

    When you take a trail for the first time, it is best to go slowly so you can become familiar with the route. Take extra precautions and don’t hesitate to stop. In this way, on your second run, you can anticipate the difficulties and experience all the thrills of riding downhill.

  • Advice n° 3: don't skip any learning stages

    You have to go through a certain number of stages before you venture onto a black trail. Missing out on the necessary stages of progression in mountain biking is the best way to make this sport more dangerous than it needs to be. On the other hand, acquiring a solid foundation during a course allows you to progress happily and gradually build up your technical knowledge.

Find an instructor in Méribel

If you are a beginner or you haven’t done any downhill mountain biking for a long time, take the time to get used to the sensations on easy itineraries before pushing yourself harder. Again, taking a mountain bike instructor gives you a big advantage by correcting your faults and giving you the right advice so you can progress to the next level.