I recently took part in my first road cycling event. The Tour Of Cambridgeshire. This was my third proper road ride and something I thought would be a cool thing to do, late on Sunday night when I booked my place… Needless to say, it was 100 miles long and took me 6 hours and 15 minutes to do it. It’s an achievement I’m pretty chuffed with after never really cycling more than 10 – 15 miles in one go. But how did I get from doing circa 15 miles to 100? Aha, well the motivation came out of a race, my first Enduro to be precise.
Up until now, mountain biking had essentially been about the technical, bike skills part of riding a bike. Yes I was fit, but I didn’t care for riding and riding, and I hated climbing – I still do to be honest. But after racing in the Haibike Mini Enduro in March, I realised my cycling performance, was if anything more down to my fitness than technical ability across a rock garden. Getting yourself to 160bpm plus and keeping yourself there would in reality translate into continuous pedalling effort, which in short, meant more speed, which meant a faster time. Not that this was a revelation, but the fitter you are, the quicker you’ll be on the bike, no matter whether that’s a mountain bike or not.
So with a recent work bonus in my pocket, off I went, determined to find a solution to improve my fitness on the bike. The result, a Halfords special road bike and a used smart turbo trainer, together with a subscription to Zwift; a virtual riding ecosystem and community that’ll get you back on the bike more often than a techy descent, if you’re as competitive as me. So like a typical man, shortly after purchasing and riding on Zwift, I thought I was pretty good, and signed myself up for the 100 miles of the Tour of Cambridgeshire. Go big or go home right?!
It didn’t take long though before I started thinking, ‘hang on I am a mountain biker, not a roadie, I shouldn’t be doing this’. I was going against what I stood for. However, after a couple rides, the child inside, who just wants to ride bikes came to the surface and I forgot about the tight clothing and instead just enjoyed riding my bike.
The question is though, has it improved my riding experience. The answer is yes. My last proper MTB ride was round Coed Y Brenin, where this time it took half a day before I felt tired and in fact I carried riding, doing the same loop all over again. Something that was never possible before, which resulted in more time on the bike and more fun riding awesome trails. Win-Win!
So the point of this article? Well it’s to wake up fellow MTB riders to the opportunity of embracing the other side of cycling, Road cycling. It’ll not only mean you can do mountain biking, but you’ll enjoy another part of cycling and more time riding your bike. And if you’re anything like me, opens up a whole now wish list of equipment to buy. You’ll be reassured to hear carbon fibre is still your friend on this other side…
So talking of equipment, the first item on your list should be a good pair of bibshorts – rest assured, us MTBers aren’t as tough and knarly as we think. Try sitting on a saddle with no suspension beneath you for 2 plus hours…. As such, and as part of being a GripGraps Local Hero, I was lucky enough to be sent a pair of their Endurance Bibs shorts. Compared to my existing Specialized MTB padded shorts, the GripGrab Endurance Bibshorts were heaven. I simple cannot emphasise comfort enough for the starting our MTBer-Roadie.
I hope this article may have opened your eyes to the Road cycling. I’m certainly an advocate for it and believe you will be, as soon as your try it!