It seems in recent times road cycling has been at the forefront of all the cycling disciplines, probably for a number reasons. One factor could be British riders success in recent Grand Tours, thinking about Sir Bradley Wiggins and more recently Chris Froome winning three Tour de France titles between them in recent years.
In Yorkshire the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014 raised the profile of road cycling and attracted great crowds and proving a huge success for the area. The Grand Depart even swayed the opinions of many who said they’d never put on lycra or get a road bike (me included).
Since then, and with the increased profile of British riders and teams, amateur cyclists have been donning their lycra and going Strava mad attempting to replicate the pros and beat their own and others times on segments. (again, me included).
More recently though I have seen a little swing in the balance and noticed a few more riders out on their MTBs around the Dales and on the local trails. I ride both road and MTB and have been on my MTB much more this year than last year. I’ve even got some road mad cyclists to make their +1 bike an MTB. (from the N+1 rule).
I think both disciplines can compliment each other nicely and mixing it up a bit makes riding a bit more fun. Here’s some reasons why I think MTB is making a bit of a comeback and why (if you haven’t already), you should make your next bike an MTB…
Its fun to mix it up
Road cycling is good to get the miles in and test your stamina but mountain biking can offer a few more thrills. If you’re talented/brave enough you can hit the jumps and catch some air, race around some great singletrack and go through mud,puddles,cow pat… you name it. After a ride it’s great to share your stories of how/where you fell off and the sights you saw etc with friends, family, anyone who listens really.
Due to being off road you don’t have to worry (as much) about motorists. Sometimes MTB rides will travel on farm tracks and lanes so you have to be alert for any tractors etc but they are few and far between. Once you climb higher and/or onto the ‘proper’ trails there’s far less worry about any other vehicles or people for that matter. It’s great solitude to just stop and take in the quietness and scenery before heading back to the ‘rat race’.
Get off the beaten track
Road cycling is great and you can tackle some great routes and see some great views, but these are roads and views that are used and seen everyday by a large array of people. With a mountain bike you can truly venture into the country and ride routes and see landscapes only a few will ever see. A favourite of mine is when riding in the dales and you come across old lead mines and their old buildings and machinery just left there in the middle of nowhere.
Develop your bike skills
Off road riding gives you that buzz as you tackle a technical climb full of tree roots or fly down a rocky descent. It’s here you will really develop your skills on the bike. Balance, agility, strength. As well as giving your legs a work out like on a road ride, you also give your arms a good work out as you grip and tense to control your bike, something you don’t really do on your road bike.
Even more toys and kit to get
Boys and their toys as they say… I think we all worry about the possibility of our better halves finding out the true cost of our bikes, kit etc. But there’s only so much you need for road cycling. If you get a mountain bike though thats a good and fair excuse for more kit. Baggy jersey, MTB shorts, new pedals, new gloves, specific mtb helmet etc. If only money grew on trees right?
Bad weather… Even better
We don’t want to be going out on our nice and shiny road bikes (OK, people who know me will know mine might not be so shiny) when it’s chucking it down (which is most of the time in the UK). Mountain bikes are made for it though and are great fun in the wet and mud. Granted you’ll get wet and dirty but that is part of the fun and difference from road cycling. There’s no pressure for a good speed on Strava etc just the fun of riding in the rain without worrying about your bike too much.
In summary, If this hasn’t made you think about owning a mountian bike then you’re probably never going to be into it. If you thought, yea, this sounds good, I’d recommend getting a decent hardtail to start with and mixing it up a bit with a road ride and then MTB ride… remember it’s good to mix it up and keep things fresh. Enjoy…