For those of you out there that race ‘cross first and foremost, this time of year is typically referred to as the offseason. Many ‘crossers are racing on the road to keep sharp but others are just starting to come out of hibernation to pack on the base miles. For me, it has always been a combination of the two. Lots of saddle time on the road with the occasional “who cares” race thrown in for good measure.
Little did I know there was a whole other world of cyclists out there that do it a little differently. You may have heard about these people. They ride around on bikes with fat tires and squishy forks. They call these contraptions “mountain bikes.” From what I understand, folks have been riding and racing these “mountain bikes” for quite some time and having “fun” while they do it. Intrigued but unconvinced this was no more than mythology and old wives’ tales, I set out to learn more.
Now this whole “dirt riding” concept isn’t completely foreign. I spend plenty of time “off road” on my bike in the fall and winter. Granted that riding is on a well-groomed cyclocross course in which there are usually clean smooth lines that spare my supple yet fragile tubular casings from too much wear and tear. Rarely are there the roots, divots and rocks that seem commonplace on the trails these mountain bikers or “MTBers” like to ride.
I was intrigued by it all but a little concerned as well. Egged on by teammates that partake in this “MTB” scene and claim to have “fun,” I got myself a bike. It has 700c wheels on it. The same as my ‘cross bike. That left me more at ease. But then I was told that I was supposed to call the wheels 29ers. That got me feeling a little uneasy again.
I have now ridden this rig, conveniently named the “Rig,” a handful of times and there’s no denying it, the “mountain bike” is “fun.” Dare I say “a blast.” You can get a great workout at threshold, work on the handling skills and break up the monotony of the road. That being said, I still don’t understand why you need a visor on your helmet if you are riding in the woods while wearing sunglasses. So much to learn.
I guess you can call this my MTB conversion story. For kicks, I strapped on the helmet cam for today’s ride and below is my video testimonial. Set to a song about having a well-stocked pantry. This, of course, has nothing to do with mountain biking, but what can I say, riding makes me hungry.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this video because without anybody else in the frame it seemed like it could get a little boring. It is definitely not a CX race vid. In fact, Mrs. CXHairs watched for about ten seconds, and then mockingly said “look … around that bend … it’s … more trees.”
Understandably, after that exchange I was even more concerned about the boredom factor so I also showed the video to Jim, The Unholy Roleur, a lifelong MTB guy. He liked it and thought it would be interesting for all the fat tire folk out west to see what the East Coast terrain was like this time of year. Jim also mocked me for riding a mountain bike like a roadie. For now, I’m going to take that as a compliment.
Here’s the video, roadie skeelz and all. It was shot at Rosaryville State Park in Maryland. Home of the 2010 Tacchino Ciclocross. Thanks for watching.