A beginner's guide to mountain biking
Get outside and have some muddy fun with this beginner's guide to Mountain Biking.
Daniel Hall Ballester was nominated by a work colleague to be a #GetOutside Champion after being inspired by Daniel in the cycling groups at OS.
Daniel Hall Ballester was nominated by a work colleague to be a #GetOutside Champion as he was always being positive and ready to encourage others to just get outside. In particular Daniel inspires the cycling groups at OS to #GetOutside at lunchtimes – putting together routes and supporting cyclists during the ride. Follow Daniel on Twitter.
How does it feel to have been chosen as a #GetOutside Champion?
It’s great that OS thinks I spend enough time outdoors to inspire others to #GetOutside. Hopefully over the next year I’ll be able to share my adventures with old and new friends as well as try out new activities and explore new places!
What are the benefits to you of being outside?
The health benefits of being outside are endless. Our bodies are not designed to sit down for hours on end, and a lot of us have jobs that require sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day. In my spare time I try to get out as much as possible to keep my body fit and healthy and enjoy the fresh air.
By spending time outside you will also stumble upon some amazing views, such as beautiful sunrises and sunsets, wildlife, foggy valleys etc…. All the things you would miss if you were stuck indoors. And you can share it all with friends!
What do you most enjoy about being outside?
I love getting to the top of a mountain and being the only person there to enjoy the views. I love having a training schedule for a sporting event and knowing that no matter what the weather throws at me I’ll be out training: Knowing that all the hours of hard work in the rain, wind or snow will pay off in the competition when I have that extra edge.
I love sharing outside moments with friends. Showing them a new walk, a new cycling route, sharing a beautiful view or climbing a mountain so fast that when we get to the top all we can do is collapse to the floor and start laughing because every single bit of our body burns.
What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)
Mountains in the winter. The colder the better! I love snow. In the summer it’s all about the coast or being out on the road bike.
What’s your best memory of being outside?
In February 2015 I spent a week doing some winter mountaineering training in the Lake District. One day we drove along the Kirkstone pass towards Glenridding. I remember as we came round a bend we got a beautiful view of the valley with Ullswater in the distance. It was just after sunrise. There were patches of fog over the water and a light scattering of snow on the hills. The view took our breath away. We had to stop the car to take it all in.
The rest of that trip was spectacular. We spent most of our time walking the peaks around the Helvellyn valley and the views kept getting better and better! No matter how cold or windy it got we just kept going.
What’s your worst?
I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve had a bad experience outside. I’m sure there have been moments where at the time I’ve been a little disheartened. I’ve been in bike crashes, turned my ankles, broken bones, lost a tooth and had numerous sporting injuries, one of which put me in hospital for seven days! But these moments always put a smile on your face when you look back at them. I always try to take a positive out of them. They make you more resilient. It’s part of life!
What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?
I was once camping on the Jurassic coast and was woken up in the middle of the night by a stag making mating calls right outside my tent. I was once also sitting on top of a hill in south Wales eating lunch with a friend and a molehill started to appear between my feet! Unfortunately the mole never came out, I was ready with my camera!
What do you like about Great Britain?
I love the colours in the mountains. The weather here is generally wet and cloudy, however the colours you get can be spectacular. If you haven’t been, go to the Lake District in January or February and you’ll be amazed by the variety of reds and purples scattered across the landscape.
Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?
The Lake District or the Scottish mountains.
What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?
I’m a big fan of road cycling and mountaineering. Especially winter mountaineering. I also enjoy just heading out to my local sports centre and doing some fitness training. This can be anything from agility training on my speed ladder to sprint intervals, hill sprints, or even some basic strength and conditioning work in the outdoor gym. I spend a fair bit of time abroad in the Mediterranean, where I will always do long distance swims and go kayaking and free diving.
In one line, how would you describe the feeling being outside gives you?
Happy and buzzing with energy.
When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?
I enjoy the adrenaline and endorphins from the hard exercise and when you’re half way up a mountain or out on your bike 50 miles into a ride the world seems a simpler place.
Why should people #GetOutside more often?
It’s good for you. The health benefits are vast. More and more people are unfortunately leading sedentary lifestyles. There are fantastic places all over the country for people to visit, and thousands of sports clubs who would be more than happy to show you the ropes.
What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?
Give it a go, you have nothing to lose.
Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?
I think a lot of people use the weather as an excuse. I agree that it’s harder to motivate yourself when the weather’s bad, but find a friend to go out with you, or join a local club or group. If you make that commitment you will make it outside and then realise you can have a good time no matter what the weather throws at you.
What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?
Stay safe. If you’re heading up a mountain make sure you have a paper map & compass and know how to use them. Have a shorter safety route off the mountain in case the weather turns or you have a problem. It’s also a good idea to make sure somebody knows where you’ll be going and what time to expect you back. Most importantly, have fun.
What tips or pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to get more out of being outside?
Find some people who want to do similar things. This might be people in your current friendship circle, or you might need to go out and make some new friends. Finding a local group that does more of what you want to do is a great place to start.
Enter yourself into a competition, maybe you run and cycle already, so why not enter a triathlon and give swimming a go? A lot of people would be put off entering a race because they think they will be the slowest, but you’ll be one of many people at that race competing for the first time. It makes no difference if you finish first or last, at least you’ve done it and shared that experience with all the other athletes.
What are your backpack essentials?
My Sigg bottle, compass and paper map if travelling to a new area and a head torch. In the winter, I don’t go far without my Rab Strata jacket, probably the most versatile bit of outdoor clothing I have ever had!
What’s your favourite food when you are outside?
It depends on the activity. When cycling, I struggle to chew, so I stick to liquids and gels. If out on the mountain, I’m a grazer. I usually have my pockets stuffed full of healthy snacks, such as dried fruits and home-made cereal bars.