I have been road biking for almost a year now, putting on a little more than 4,000 miles in that time and loving every mile of it Almost all my rides are in a group, I really enjoy the camaraderie and have met some great new friends. Many of my roadie friends also mountain bike, especially in the winter and they have been urging me to get a mtn bike and join them in the woods. I had been very reticent, concerned about injury and wether I had enough bike handling skills to survive on the trail.
Finally I got a demo bike, a Gary Fisher x-caliber 29er, and joined my friends Francis and Julie on a ride at Lake Norman State Park. First of all I had a blast!! Single track riding is scary and exhilarating all the same time, but what a rush!! It took me a few minutes to understand that the things I avoid on my road bike are the things you have to go over on a mtn bike!! My wake up call was a fall early on, on a tricky descent through a rutted and heavily rooted turn, I just didnt let the bike roll over the roots and got stopped by a big which caused me to do a slo mo endo Francis, who is a very experienced rider, told me what I did wrong and that I should trust the bike to get over these obstacles. Fortunately nothing hurt except my pride, lesson learned!
After that fall I tried to let the bike do what it was designed to do and whaddya know, things started to fall in place A few miles into the ride I was zinging along the trail, rolling over roots and rocks at an ever increasing pace and even managed to get airborne once!! We were just about to finish the first trail and head over to another one when I heard a pop and coild feel my rear wheel wobble. Sure enough I had broken a spoke so my trail riding was done for the day I slow pedaled back to the car with a grin on my face.
Mtn biking is so different from road biking, it requires better balance, more concentration, use of upper body and quick bike handling skills. I'm going to buy a mtn bike today and though road biking will be my main activity, I know that sprinkling some trail rides will be fun and will allow me to improve as a rider in general.
Try it yourselves, you might like it