As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been “dabbling in the dirt” a fair bit recently. During the long Tasmanian winter it makes a change from always being out on the same roads, plus Tassie is home to some world class mountain bike trails. I’ve had a blast so far and it’s really opened my eyes, so here are my TOP FIVE reasons road cyclists should give mountain biking a go …
1) Skills. Skills. Skills. Hitting the trails as a road biker is a humbling experience. It’s no longer all about putting out the most power, you also need to be able to negotiate ever-changing rough terrain! From rocky drops to slippery tree roots to dusty off-camber tracks to fast flowing downhill switchbacks, every minute of the ride is different and will test your abilities! Plus once you conquer all the terrain types, you need to link them together with speed, rhythm and flow. Adding mountain biking to your regular riding will make you a much more skilful rider, both on and off road.
2) Traffic be gone. This may be obvious, but getting off the road and into the wilderness means you’re no longer hassled by close passes and inconsiderate, dangerous drivers. Even if the motorists around you are polite, heading bush gets you away from the noise and pollution of everyday traffic. It really is a refreshing change.
3) Even more tech. Us roadies love a bit of cycling tech and many will dismiss mountain biking as the “low-tech” end of the sport, but have you looked into the world of modern mountain bikes recently? Tricked up suspension, head and seat tube angles adjustable at the press of a lever, dropper seat posts, multiple wheel sizes, the list goes on. Top end bikes have even moved to electronic shifting. If you’re into your cycling tech, mountain biking will not disappoint!
4) Big juicy burgers! While the club ride for road cyclists tends to end with a coffee and cake, mountain bikers will thrash around the trails and when done, head to the local pub for a tasty burger washed down with a couple of beers (or non-alcoholic beverage of choice). Now that’s the sort of post-ride ritual I can get behind!
5) Bone density and a healthy body. Road cycling is a very low impact sport and scientific tests have shown that professional road cyclist can have much lower bone densities than other athletes (and even non-athletes). The rough tracks and constant jolts of mountain biking may build stronger bones – and stronger bones mean a stronger, healthier body!
So if you haven’t already, give mountain bike a go. Not only will it make you a much better all-round rider, you will be grinning ear to ear the entire time! Keep those pedals turning! :-)