I wish that many years ago, right back at the start, I had been introduced to mountain biking. I think it would have made me a more all round better road cyclist, and I say this for various reasons. If we have a look at past and present pro’s, quite a few have come from a mountain bike back ground. Most notably Peter Sagan and Cadel Evans, Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Gracie Elvin. I’ve had the luxury of racing with Pauline and Gracie, and I’ve watched Peter, and it is quite obvious that these athletes have the skills, and the talent. I’ve seen Gracie get out of tricky situations, and squeeze through gaps that weren’t there. Whilst popping wheelies and doing bunny hops looks, there certainly is a purpose to acquiring these bike handling skills. Particularly if you are racing a criterium, or in large bunches. Skills like bunny hopping, popping your front wheel, and thinking on your feet when an obstacle is presented, can save you a lot of skin, and get you out of trouble.
If I had to give someone starting out road riding any advice, I would say focus on your skill set first, before you think about developing your engine. Too often do we see these super talented athletes thrown on bikes, and then thrown off their bikes because they have no idea how to handle their machine, or how to handle certain situations. One of the great things about moutain biking, that I have found, is that it is less pretentious, and more accepting than road riding. This doesn’t apply to every road riding scene, however, I just find it to be a more easier going relaxed sport. Don’t get me wrong, mountain biking is hard work, but it’s this hard work mentally and physically that will make you better on the road bike.
- Finding the right line
- Make quick decisions
- Avoiding obstacles
- VO2 workout
I would say these are some of the key aspects that make s biking such a great cross training sport to road riding. Whether you are starting out as a road rider, or perhaps losing interest as a seasoned rider, I believe mountain biking is the answer.
My suggestions? Find your local bike shop that sells mountain bikes, ask if their is a demo bike you can borrow, and trails near by. Quite often bike shops will run a social ride once a week, which caters to all levels. My local bike shop Just Ride Nerang helped me out with my first mountain bike, a hard tail, which I simply loved, until I road a dual suspension bike, and fell in love. (If you are new to mountain biking, hard tail means only front suspension, where as dual is … well both front and rear).