Five Lessons For Roadies. Love from mountain bikers…

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Author: Hannah Dobson

Here at Singletrack we do think that ALL bikes are good. Riding bikes of any kind is generally better than any other outdoor activity that we can think of. But some bikes are better than others. And mountain bikes and mountain biking are (obviously) the best. Here are some very much tongue-in-cheek lessons that I think that our roadie brethren should learn from the world of mountain bikes. You can thank us later!

Road Cleats Are Stupid

Road cleats

Once upon a time road cleats were a brilliant invention: you could put the power down and remain attached to your bike without having to nail or tie your shoes to your pedals. But time moves on, technology improves, and road cleats belong in the history books (or a niche retro-cycle sportive). Mountain bike cleats are infinitely superior: you clip in on both sides of the pedal, so you can clip in without faffing. You can clip out again in a hurry. They don’t make you walk like a penguin, and they don’t make you slide like one either. With such an array of mountain bike shoes to attach your cleats to, and plenty of pedal choice too, there’s no excuse for persisting with this outdated nonsense.

Disc Brakes Are Good

Disc brake

Squeeze the levers and, oh look, you actually stop. Even when it’s raining! It’s witchcraft, surely? No, my superstitious roadie, it’s technology again. Disc brake technology. And it gets better – not only do disc brakes make you stop, they save you money too. You know those really expensive lightweight super-stiff wheels you bought? Every time you touch your rim brakes, you’re wearing off another five quid’s worth of wheel and another fiver’s worth of brake pad. Imagine instead if all you were wearing out was 0.01mm of your pads and an easily replaceable rotor. Imagine. Well, you don’t need to imagine it. Just go out and buy a bike with disc brakes!

Rucksacks Are Not Evil

Kit first aid pack rucksack

You are going out for a long ride. Into the three little pockets on your jersey you stuff an inner tube, a teeny tiny multitool, tyre levers, a mini pump, a phone, a bank card and emergency cash, and a featherlite rain cape that pound-for-gram is made of the most expensive fabric known to man. This leaves no room for proper food, so you squeeze in a few gels. When you get home, used gel wrappers will have dried onto your pockets’ contents, resulting in careful washing of phones, multitools, and so on. Assuming they’re all still there of course – there’s every chance one of them will have bounced out of your pocket en route. Why not just wear a rucksack? Then you can carry tools that don’t require the dexterity of a surgeon to use them, a pump that actually inflates without giving you tennis elbow, and real food. You can even use your rucksack to carry your water, where it will be helpfully delivered to your mouth via a tube handily placed near your shoulder, away from all the unknown crap that is spraying up off the road and onto your bottle in its cage. Rucksacks are no longer the metal framed canvas monstrosities you may recall from Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. They’re lightweight, ergonomically designed, ventilated, and much better at carrying stuff than pockets. Get one.

Roads Are Rubbish

Pothole RoadOK, somewhere there might be a smooth Alpine tarmac ribbon snake that’s been recently resurfaced thanks to a European grant and the fact that the local Mayor lives at the top of the mountain, but generally, roads are rubbish. They’re rough, scarred places, criss-crossed by repeated attacks in the name of gas maintenance, high speed broadband, and burst water mains. They’re full of vehicles driven by distracted or death-wishing drivers. Their air is full of particulates which damage the brain, the lungs and probably your bike. Roads are rubbish. Ride them only as a means of connecting up trails, get to the sweet singletrack, breath that clean air and revel in the peace and quiet. No, the trails won’t be smooth, but at least these bumps are ones you can embrace and enjoy.

Riding Can Be Fun

Beer at your desk Friday.

Your typical roadie narrative goes something like ‘…through the sweat and the thin air we climbed, pedals turning, turning, turning as our legs screamed in pain at the gradient. Out of the saddle, teeth gritted, a rider attacks. Digging deeper still, our hearts pounding at the limit, into the red, we closed the gap. And then the suffering really started…’

There are leather lined dungeons for people that enjoy this kind of pain and suffering. Grab a mountain bike, get out in the countryside with your mates, whoop a bit, laugh when you stack it, have a pie, ride some more, see a curlew, hear the skylarks, then finish your ride with a pint, or a mug of steaming tea and a hunk of cake. This is fun. This is mountain biking. Roadies, you’re welcome to join us 😉

Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (24)

    Patronising bollocks….sorry. Agree about the brakes but otherwise….must try harder.

    Hey, we’re all cyclists enjoying our bikes and the countryside- isn’t that more important?

    Mind you discs are for winners!

    ∆∆∆
    Probably all roadies

    There have been a few dodgy articles recently. That nonsense about Reader Awards for different bike categories smacked of What Mountain Bike Gear of the Year and Bike of the Year.

    why hasn’t the writer put their name to this article?

    never mind the quality, count the clicks and likes on social media?

    Reads like an article in MBUK….

    I think it was just meant to be a lighthearted tease. I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

    Grumpy roadies got no sense of humour.

    I’m no roadie, but that’s a load of bollocks.

    Ooh Hannah, shootin’ from the hip!
    But ok, I’ll bite 😉

    I must admit that at first I totally disagreed about the roadie pedals/cleat comment (being a closet roadie myself), but then I think you actually have a point about walking around like a penguin on roller skates. It would be nice if road shoes offered some kind of recessed cleat area so they weren’t so awkward/dangerous to walk around in.

    Disc brakes? Sign me up! After descending steep Calderdale Valley roads in the wet and often with blind corners, I cannot get disc brakes on my road bike fast enough! More consistent braking with less effort sounds bloody good to me. The topic of disc brakes definitely get roadies fired up though, as road bikes have largely remained unchanged for a century, and they don’t like too much change 😉

    As to wearing a backpack on a road bike? I’m not sure I ever carry enough to ever fill more than three pockets anyway. Also, putting excessive weight on your back in that kind of riding position is way uncomfortable for anything but a short commute. The sweaty back thing is also not ideal. But mostly, think of the aerodynamics!

    The road surface quality comment is totally valid, though I think in some places more than others. Depends on how well the roads are maintained, but around here in Calderdale the bitumen is pretty darn rough. I suspect that’s why 700×28-32c rubber is becoming a lot more common on road bikes, and why road plus is becoming a ‘thing’.

    And yes, riding road bikes is all about the pain! And spandex. Spandex too.
    I think you need to ask Jason Miles about his recent 24-hour road race victory and the differences in attitudes he found between the hardcore roadies and the mountain bikers who were racing it 🙂

    Get over yourselves you miserable bastards.

    Hmm. Roadies are delicate little flowers too, apparently. 😀

    I agree with most of these points, but #4 is the main one. The worst thing you’re likely to encounter on a mountain bike is a grumpy rambler. Nobody usually tries to kill me with a couple of tons of high-powered metal when I’m riding offroad, which is nice, I think.

    OK it may not be Pulitzer material, but it’s a bit of fun and they’re all salient points. Perhaps one of the armchair literary critics would like to submit a counter article on Five things us MTBrs could learn from roadies.

    …and whoever says track stands will be first against the wall, come the revolution.

    I’m genuinely disappointed to be honest; it just smacks of inflammatory trolling. Seriously, a comma preceding an “and”?

    Can I change my nomination for best article?

    Wow, vitriol for a bit of fun.

    To an outsider rugby union and league are both a bunch of lads chasing an odd shaped ball but to those who appreciate both or either code, they are different games, both with their subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) intricacies that are celebrated by those who love their respective games (and who often secretly appreciate the other form of the game).
    To your average Joe, bikes are bikes are bikes, they are all ridden by fat middle-aged blokes in lycra, on the pavement and through red lights. We who ride know that it’s not the case. We should embrace and celebrate the fact we have different ways of doing it whether we are on an Mtb or road bike (we even have our own version of Rugby 7’s – BMX!)

    I don’t know why but that cave picture is inspired! Especially after reading the comments.

    First 2 points, yeah, spot on (I use XT Trail peddles on the road bike, brilliant!) but you lost me after that, sorry. Hannah, you come across as a lovely person, but rucksacks!? On a bicycle? Rucksacks are for hiking (& only then if you’re going more than 20 miles or blizzards are forecast). Find someone over 40 & get them to show you a saddlebag – you’ll be amazed!

    This article is spot on: have you ever tried walking 5 miles in road cleats when you have suffered a mechanical failure at the far point of a 10 mile time trial? As for rucksacks, alter the strap layout, call it a courier bag, and roadies find them quite acceptable.

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