I’ve majorly fallen off my Luddite bandwagon in the last 6 months. I have a smartphone, I use it some, not very well, but I swore I’d never own one. I also use my Facebook account, in fact Shauna says I use it to much. Anyway facebook likes to stick posts in your face from places, and one that recently popped up was Top Ten Reasons Why Mountain Biking is Better Than Road Biking. I’m sure the author meant this as a joke, but I really seriously hate this lame crap. The cycling community is small, it shouldn’t be splintered into two distinct groups that mock each other.
Here’s the list and my responses under each point.
- The obvious one: No Cars. Nothing harshes your mellow more than 4,000 pounds of noisy steel whizzing by you at 70 miles an hour, 18 inches away.It’s illegal to ride on the interstate.
- Mountain Biking is Better for your Health: see above. Not sharing your ride with CO2-emitting vehicles is a lot better for your lungs, particularly when you’re surrounded by…Where’s the science? Got any proof? Yeah I’m sure that riding in Beijing is rough on your lungs, but so is living in Beijing. Most of the USA? I doubt it.
This whole thing about cars is a lame argument to me. People who are more than happy to barrel through heavy traffic in a car are scarred to ride on a lightly traveled secondary road because of cars passing them. I regularly drive 20-30 minutes for mountain bike rides and will sometimes drive 20-30 minutes for road bike rides out of town where I may be passed by 5 cars in 3 hours of riding.
- …Trees: There’s nothing quite like the feeling of flying down a trail through the woods with trees whooshing by (and hitting a tree hurts a lot less than getting hit by a car).Yes riding in the woods is awesome, I love it. But so is riding in a group of cyclists all working together, something you can’t do on the trail.
- Quiet and Solitude: Mountain bike trails often take you to remote, peaceful places, where you can commune with nature, meditate, and enjoy the great outdoors. You rarely get such opportunities on a road bike, unless you happen to live in an area with rarely-used paved roads (which are pretty rare these days).Based by the number of riders I see using earbuds I don’t think this that big of a deal. I enjoy so much quiet and solitude on road bike rides that I often start talking to myself and I’ve ridden my road bike to some pretty amazing places.
- Fewer Type ‘A’s: Mountain biking seems to attract more laid-back people. Whenever I’ve gone out for a road ride, everyone quickly gets really competitive. When I go out mountain biking with my buddies, it’s all about enjoying good times and good laughs with good friends.In general I kind of agree with this, but I’ve had great, laid back fun rides with good laughs and good friends on a road bike too. There all kinds of different people in all kinds of different activities.
- Lots of Riding Styles to Choose From: Cross-Country. All-Mountain. Freeride. Enduro. DH. Lift-assisted. No matter who you are, there’s a type of mountain biking to suit your personality. Road riding? Umm… let’s see… Riding on the road.In my opinion those are all marketing terms. Want to hear some more marketing terms, Time Trial, Tri, Endurance, Cyclocross, Gravel, Aero, Climbing. You could very well say that there is a spectrum of cycling with road being at one end, and extreme downhill at the other. It’s all riding a bike! The only thing that changes is the surface you’re riding on.
- Wipeouts on dirt hurt a lot less than wipeouts on pavement. (Cedric Gracia notwithstanding – we’re talking about the average MTB wipeout, not the kind of wipeout you get when you backflip off a 40-foot cliff.)Yeah I’ll give you that one, there’s much less road rash, but I average maybe 5 mountain bike crashes a year, and 0-1 road bike crashes.
- Mountain Biking Gives you a Better Workout: Riding on the road improves your cardiovascular fitness for spinning at high cadence for a long time. Mountain biking requires much more dynamic fitness – from quick bursts to sustained cardio output – and incorporates many more muscle groups.I call bogus, I agree that mountain biking takes more upper body, but my guess is that in the lab there wouldn’t be much difference in fitness between a hardcore roadie and mountain biker.
- Mountain Bikers are More Fun. See #5.So are blondes, at least that’s what I’ve heard.
- Bib Shorts. Enough said.Anyone who has a problem with bib shorts hasn’t worn them, they are 10x more comfortable than regular shorts and I know lots of mountain bikers that wear them. This is so lame, some mountain bikers are so worried about looking “queer” that they wear baggy shorts and hockey jerseys, then they make fun of roadies wearing lycra. I wear what works and really don’t care how it looks, especially in the woods enjoying my solitude.
So in conclusion, there is nothing wrong with liking mountain biking better than road, or road better mountain, or liking them both equally. What’s wrong is creating a false divide, acting as if the two major forms of cycling are mutually exclusive or that one is better than the other. Enjoy them both.