Feb 2018 10

 

 

I’ve yet to find a better way to pass my spare time than riding a bicycle. In my adult life, when I’m officially clocked out from work, I’m most often joining in the fun of following my children’s activities. When I’m not doing either of those, I have ventured into several different personal pastimes. Golf, boating, poker games, and running are just a few of them. In my thirteenth year as a cyclist, I can say with firm validity that I could give up all the others, and most of them I already have, except for bicycling!

 

My passion grew even stronger in 2017 when I finally crossed over into the mountain bike world. I definitely surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it. Changing up the monotony of any routine can bring new energy to a passion, and that’s exactly what happened with my love for cycling. I recently had a local cyclist message me through Strava or Twitter (can’t remember which one). She ask about the advantages of mountain biking versus road cycling. I’m not sure that I’m completely qualified to answer since I only finished my first full year of mountain biking, but I’ll give it a try. From my vantage point, at least.

 

BAD NEWS

The weather definitely dictates when you can ride single track trails. “Mud on your heels or wheels? Stay off the trails!” That’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to use of any trail system. I recommend a Google search on “freeze/thaw” to better understand when it’s okay to ride your trails.

Trails are more dangerous than one may think. The trees are often very close to the trail. Plenty of roots, rocks, and just constant changes in the trail surface make paying attention paramount. Any wreck on a mountain bike  ride can range from a simple scrape to potential paralysis or even death.

You typically have to drive to ride. I like when I go for a road ride, I just hop on my bike and go. I have yet to ride my mountain bike (on a trail) without having to drive to get where I want to ride.

If you’re a mileage or average speed junkie, you’ll find yourself upside down on your data. I compare mountain biking to running without the impact that causes joint injuries. You will go much slower speeds  and shorter distances than when you road cycle.

Sometimes I want to go for a ride just to let go of all the stresses and worries on my mind. Just get out, spin and let it all go. Be miles into a ride and start looking around to figure out where I am because I’m lost in thought or dreaming. That doesn’t happen on single track. Riding mountain bike is like playing a video game. Everything is right in front of you and it happens too quickly for you to lose focus on the trail.

 

 

GOOD NEWS

When you don’t have enough time to get in a good road ride, mountain biking is an excellent workout in 45 minutes to an hour. It’s all up to how you ride. If you ride mountain bike for about 4 hours straight, you may only have 30ish miles depending on the trail difficulty, but your body will feel similar to doing an 8 hour ride on road bike.

You should never have a worry about getting run over by a vehicle on your mountain bike, assuming you’re riding a trail. Thus far, all of the trail users I’ve crossed paths with (including walkers, runners, and other cyclists) are typically very courteous about sharing trail.

 

In my short mountain biking time, I’ve witnessed growth in it’s popularity and hear and/or see of many new trails being developed in our nearby riding region. Some parks are adding to what they have. Some are changing existing features on the same trails. Some are cutting in new trails all together. There’s plenty of trails around here to ride, and it’s growing!

Mountain biking improves mental focus. Reading books, working crossword puzzles, eating certain foods, and other exercises are proven to help keep the mind sharp. I would place mountain biking high on that list of other exercises. One true way to improve anything is make it workout regularly. Hop on a mountain bike, hit the trail, and it just happens.

 

 

NEUTRAL NEWS

Cost… I don’t give an advantage or disadvantage to either road cycling or mountain biking when it comes to cost. You can’t spend as little or as much as you want on both sports.

They are both a great ride whether you ride solo or socially. Granted, you will talk more during a road ride if you’re in a group pace line. However, I’ve felt more social with a group on a trail as we periodically will stop and enjoy conversation as we regroup. Likewise, I get much enjoyment out of a good solo ride in either sport also.

Rather than coming right out and saying I enjoy one over the other, I revert back to playing sports as a youth. My favorite is the one I’m riding at the time. Truly, my favorite part is the ability to have a completely different ride experience from one to the other.

For example, December was not a good month for road cycling. Too often when I was available to ride, temps were below 20 F and since the ground was frozen I was hitting the trails to avoid the wind on the road. I broke out my road bike on our first warm day in January and felt like a kid in a candy shop. Then as the ground was unfrozen and/or wet most on January, all of my rides were on the road or indoors. Finally last weekend I was able to get back on my mountain bike early before the ground thawed. Instantly, the kid in a candy shop feeling returned!

In closing, I can say with confidence, I love both road cycling and mountain biking! Hope my opinion helps anyone give either a try. And because I enjoy the change in monotony so well, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I give the gravel bike thing a try. That seems to be the latest greatest sport I hear many of my cycling friends talking about. I don’t expect it to happen this year, but I’ve learned to never rule anything out 😉

 

I don’t ride a bicycle to add days to my life, I ride a bicycle to add life to my days * @KPtheMasher