For many roadies the idea of hurtling up or down a mountain, among trees and over rocks sounds like their worst nightmare.
But mountain biking has many benefits that can actually help the average lycra-clad cyclist out on the roads.
The video below outlines five key reasons why roadies really should give mountain biking a try:
1. Get smoother pedalling
Studies have shown that mountain bikers have a smoother pedalling stroke, because they don’t always have the traction to just stand up and mash out the watts. Rounded, ‘even’ pedal strokes are a frequent topic of conversation among road riders, so if you want a smooth pedal action it might be worth hitting the trails.
Not convinced? Maybe Hesjedal, Sagan and Evans can change your mind – they all started out on mountain bikes and have gone on to become hugely successful road racers.
2. Build your skills
Mountain biking requires a particular skillset, which can easily be translated for use on the road.
Being able to bunny hop a crater-sized pothole or speed bump will come in handy – and might make the difference between having to buy some new rims or not.
3. Get an intensive training session
If you analyse the intensity of cross-country mountain biking, you’ll notice the power output regularly flits between full gas and freewheeling. This is similar to a high-intensity interval session, and you’ll soon notice the gains when it comes to putting the hammer down on the road.
Unlike on the turbo trainer or road, freewheeling on an MTB actually gives you an upper body workout, because you still have to move around to absorb bumps, turn corners and so on. This in turn, ramps up the overall performance gains.
4. You'll love the tech
If you like road tech, then you’re going to have a field day with mountain biking. There are enough tech options to keep you amused for hours.
One of the most notable debates is wheel size – 26, 27.5, 29in, and fat bikes, all give different characteristics and options. Then there's the question of disc brakes, suspension travel, electronic shock lockout… you get the idea!
5. It's fun
Road cycling can be exciting, especially if you’re out on a club run or sprinting for a finish, competitive or not. But damp roads and grey skies can get monotonous, so why not swap the lycra for baggies and lap up some of the adrenaline that mountain biking can offer? You get away from traffic – even the busiest trail is less threatening than a busy road – and take in some stunning scenery at the same time.
Worried about crashing? Don't be – you might well take the odd tumble on a mountain bike, but crashing on a trail generally doesn't hurt as much as crashing on road surface. Plus most trail centres have a cafe, so you can even get your usual caffeine fix.