mountain bikers on muddy trail

cemrFor many road cyclists, the sight of  grav­el can strike fears into their hearts. So the idea of rid­ing on trails with gar­dens of rocks, loose dirt, and oth­er obsta­cles is under­stand­ably a night­mare. While the poten­tial for injury is high when moun­tain bik­ing, it’s no more dan­ger­ous than the descent of a moun­tain pass on the half inch of rub­ber pro­vid­ed by your 700c tires.

The best way to tran­si­tion from the pave­ment to the dirt is, like most things, to start out easy. A road cyclist will already have the leg-pow­er to han­dle the uphill parts like a moun­tain goat. In fact when it comes to uphill moun­tain bik­ing, road­ies often dom­i­nate after learn­ing the basics. Road­ies will be out­pac­ing their friends by spin­ning up steep inclines,  burst­ing  over larg­er rocks, and hop­ping over tree roots as if grav­i­ty sud­den­ly invert­ed specif­i­cal­ly for them. To do this, all they need to do is focus on becom­ing com­fort­able on this new style of bike. At first, the down hill part of moun­tain bik­ing will be as easy as a fish swim­ming on land. But prac­tice makes per­fect. Like I said, start out easy: The first thing any road­ie on a moun­tain rid­ing mis­sion should do is research local trails and there are many sites that offer rat­ing sys­tems based off of dif­fi­cul­ty. A good site for this is trails.mtbr.com.

cemThe goal here is to get a feel for your bike. Road­ies need to get used to how rid­ing on dirt, grav­el, and rocks feels. How the sus­pen­sion reacts, and how you posi­tion your­self when going down hill over dif­fer­ent obsta­cles and grades. For many moun­tain bik­ers it can take months, or even years to ride every obsta­cle of a dif­fi­cult trail. Much of the fun and accom­plish­ment comes from final­ly defeat­ing those dif­fi­cult obsta­cles. Road­ies should expe­ri­ence this joy, too. They already have the huge advan­tage of bicy­cle fitness.

So get out there, grab a moun­tain bike and hit up some trails! At the very least it will improve your con­trol and con­fi­dence on a road bike, at the most you’ll find a great new way to con­tin­ue explor­ing your pas­sion for cycling!