Is this the best time of the year?

Posted: April 8, 2011 in 2011, General

Spring… as we emerge from the depression of winter and teeter on the cusp of summer, the trails take on that almost perfect quality, firm and grippy but not yet sandy. The sun is shining and actually gives us some warmth but has yet to start the slow cooking process of a very warm summer. Bracken is still nothing but a vague subterranean grumbling and nettles are still measured in millimetres. What can be better?

Well, it may be heresy but getting off your mountain bike and onto a road bike for a long ride on back roads early in the morning can be phenomenally rewarding. If most of your year round riding is done at the same venue then all you are doing is changing clothes to accommodate the new season. The inbuilt resistance of many mountain bikers to venturing out on tarmac is bewildering. In Suffolk, most off road riding is concentrated in a few venues which share similar characteristics – pine forest, tight singletrack and long fire roads, that’s about it so all you are doing is changing car park. It may be fun sometimes but too much of a good thing makes Jack a very dull boy and let’s face it, there are as many dull mountain bikers as roadies.

Get out on the road and you never have to go the same way again. The trail centre option of riding the same trail ‘the wrong way round’ doesn’t really offer much variety does it? There is a massive road network out there and Suffolk has so many country lanes you really are spoiled for choice.

I went through a phase of riding on the road all the time to off road all of the time and ultimately, got bored with doing one to the exclusion of the other. Mix it up a bit, go to new places and live a bit, drink tea and eat cake in a different cafe every week. Go places for lunch or breakfast and then ride back; set your sights beyond blatting round the same old trail for a couple of hours, you will find it great fun if you give it a chance. Spring is just as good out on the black stuff as in the forest. If you ‘find it boring’ then make sure you go with a mate or two – riding road bike is arguably more sociable than riding a mountain bike. If you are worried about ‘looking like a roadie’ you are allowed to keep your peak and baggy shorts. You know you want to….. give it a try.

  1. PeterH says:

    +1 for road riding. I find it’s quicker to go out for a quick spin on the road bike – less prep needed for some reason. At this time of year it’s nice that you still see the sun set as well. But baggies on a road bike – come on, that’s just not right.

  2. slowjo61 says:

    ah yes, but if it is the psychological crutch you need to keep your identity at least part way intact……

    … not to say that mountain bikers have identity issues LOL!

  3. Ady says:

    Would agree road is ideal for getting the miles in and good for seeing the country side ,
    But i now mainly do lots of miles on the back roads and tracks local to me and use the mtb.
    Reason being in the last 2 years been hit by lorry wing mirror and pushed into verge /dyke whilst cycling to work so sold the road bike as there are just to many blind and stupid drivers out there to be safe .
    Suffolks roads may be better than deepest norfolk though.

  4. slowjo61 says:

    Suffolk is always better than Norfolk! ;o)

    MTBs are too slow on the road hence my current love affair with my CX bike, fast, versatile and off road friendly too.

    I will be getting the road bike out of storage soon anyway and heading off into the rising or setting sun (delete as appropriate).

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