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
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bike shoes to attach your cleats to, and plenty of pedal choice too, there’s no excuse for persisting with this outdated nonsense.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
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
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
OK, 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
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 😉