Thursday, July 13, 2006

Paying Your Dues

The article I linked to the other day concerning this looney toon and his take on mountain bikes being overkill has generated a few interesting comments. It seems that some of us feel that the acquisition of skills is sharpened, or at least only attainable through riding skinny tires, rigid bikes, fixed gear, single speed, or some combination of all of these. Suspension seems to be generally seen as a "cover up" for bad skills, or lack of technique. I find this outlook very interesting, and quite honestly, it has never been my view on the subject.

You see, I am old enough to have started out off roading on skinny tired rigid bikes. Long before I had ever heard of a "mountain bike" I was riding a rigid, single speed, coaster brake Huffy with 26 X 1" and 3/8ths tires on it all over the dirt paths in my home town. I had issues with the dirt anytime it was wet, ( no traction, mud clearance) I had issues with flat tires,( lack of air volume in tires), and it didn't really handle all that well like it did on pavement. That was a combination of the tires and geometry being less than desirable. Keep in mind that these things didn't stop me, and it was the only choice I had!

Fast forward to the late 80's. I had heard of these "mountain bikes" and I wanted one. Fat tires meant less pinch flats. Fat tires meant more traction. Frames built for fat tires and off roading meant more mud clearance and better handling. These are good things, no? I could have purchased a road bike and went off road with it, like the looney dude suggests, but why? Going backwards wasn't what I was interested in. I had been there. I wanted the next step in off roadable cycling. The rigid mountain bike was it.

See where this is going? Back in the day, ( read: when G-Ted was a pup) there was no other way than to ride a road bike off road. It wasn't all it's cracked up to be, believe me. It's fun, but look: a mountain bike is better at it! Now we have suspension, gee-gaws, this and thats........all flavors and push ups too! I think it's great, but I never thought about starting my off roading on a 5 X 5 inch travel all mountain rig, like younginz can today. That's a different perspective than mine. Maybe there should be a paying of dues. Maybe you should ride a rigid road machine off road? I know it made me a better rider for doing it.

But there is no way you can say a mountain bike is overkill for off roading! That's just plain stupid talk!

No comments: