30 April 2009

Why do I love road riding?

This very serious question was posed to me after this mornings post. So - if this goes all deep and meaningful - blame Matt.

So - why road riding?

Road riding is something that I have a love / hate relationship with. When I bought my road bike, I was < 12 months into me beginning cycling. It was a revelation, up until then I'd been buzzing around everywhere on my $600 DiamondBack. Jumping onto skinny tyres was a huge buzz - the speed, the performance, the directness, the increased range. It was awesome.

I thought I was bulletproof. Then I decided to try racing. And the hate was born.

Despite my size, I'm not a hugely strong rider. I can roll along all day, but there is a very, very fine line between rolling comfortably, and going lactic. The first 'race' I tried, I was bundled into B Grade, and told to 'just sit off the back if you get tired'. It did not go at all well - no warm up, the hammer went down straight off the line, and I got smoked, comprehensively.

So - I backed away from racing. Stuck to bunch riding with mates, enjoying the fact that 80 or 100 km can be peeled off relatively straightforwardly. Autumn and spring here is a great time to road ride - plenty of quiet country roads, green rolling fields, clear skies and crisp temperatures. And the love was born again.

Then - it was time to attempt my first alpine ascent. Mt Buffalo, untrained, unpsyched and unprepared. Unpleasant. And the hate was born again.

The biggest thing that used to stand between me and regular riding was the fact that I worked 80km away. Pre and post work rides were pretty much out of the question. A change of employment - to an office 800 metres away from my front door - made all the difference, and made a quick pre-work spin a reality, and post work rides - both road and MTB - a regular occurrence. The loop I rode this morning, we used to ride every Tuesday, leaving home at 6am, home by 8am, breakfast, coffee, shower, at the desk by 9. And we had good turnout too - 6 or 8 riders every week.

Tuesday nights over summer sees the running of the 'Tuesday Night World Cup'. 45km of out and back, unsanctioned and unmartialed. 100 riders is not uncommon, and it is the quick and the dead. A very quick way to learn bunch etiquette is to ride with these guys, a baptism of fire so to speak. The out part was always ok, 30km/h in a tight bunch, but the back - oh dear. Miss the turn - you're off the back. Turn too early - you're off the back. Not enough people in your grade - no hiding in the bunch. Like most race routes - easy enough at coasting speed, but once the pace is on, it can be quite a challenge.

Since then, my road riding has steadily increased. I've been riding occasionally with a Saturday morning bunch, usually 80 or 100km. I've completed 2 'Round The Bay' 210km rides, I've now ridden up Hotham, Falls Creek and Buffalo. And best of all - it's great training for longer MTB rides. I try and make an effort to up the road riding before any of the enduro races I enter.

Road riding isn't my only cycling love, but I love it nonetheless.

So - over to you Mr Matt. Why do you love mountain biking?

1 comment:

Matt said...

Here it is: http://mattfromalbury.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/mtb-why-do-i-love-mountain-biking/