An old friend once told me she couldn’t understand why anyone could buy a mountain bike. Every time she tried one, she said, it felt too sluggish and slow compared to her road bike. I told her she was nuts, and that she was missing half the fun.
Now that I spend spring on a nice, light road bike, I understand where she was coming from. But I still say she’s nuts, and she’s missing half the fun.
I started hitting the trails over the past few days—now that they’ve finally dried out—and it's clear that I need to get my off-road legs back. I was feeling pretty good about my conditioning until I pedaled up Wall Street on Spencer Loop on Tuesday night. Holy shitballs, that was hard work.
In good years, I’ve climbed that hill in the middle ring. This time? Granny gear, baby. And I was damn glad to have it. All that spring road riding was a good start, but there’s no replacement for riding dirt and pointing a 26-pound bike uphill when you want to get in shape.
And there’s nothing better than bombing down the other side and digging those knobbies into the ground while railing a turn and feeling the suspension soak up the bumps. And, for my money, there’s nothing more meditative riding a trail, watching for rocks, blow-downs and moose. You have to clear your mind, or you’re screwed.
There are no cars to deal with, no glass-strewn pavement, no convenience stores. Just woods, streams and play time.
And, the scenery is usually a lot better, too.