The first mountain bikes were simply bikes worked on by their owners so that they could handle rough terrain, this occurring during the 1970s in the United States, with such features as more powerful brakes and shock absorbers, and a large number of gears among the innovations.
By the end of that decade, manufacturers had caught on and began pumping out bikes that were half the weight of ordinary street bikes but able to handle much greater impacts. By 1996, mountain biking was an official Olympic sport event.
Skills required for mountain biking far exceed that of ordinary bicycle riding, as do the demands of rough ground and greater risks of injury.
Lessons involve practice in gear shifting, and in dealing with special challenges (obstacles, wet places, precipitous or rocky ground, etc.). Helmets are recommended as is special biking clothing. As with other demanding and potentially dangerous sports, starting out at an easy level is recommended, giving the beginning a chance to learn techniques and also to build muscle slowly.
Mountain bikers are visiting Greece in increasing numbers, encouraged by the public ownership of forests and uplands (meaning that access is unrestricted) which are excellent biking terrain. Trails are also widespread in high areas, many of which are close to urban areas (like Ymittos, Parnitha and Pendeli mountains, which border the megalopolis of Athens), among others. There are many areas all over the country with good biking possibilities, with spring and autumn the best seasons, though in some places (though not in the high mountains!) even winter biking is possible.