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  1. #1
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    When a Roadie Tries to Go Mountain Biking

    This last weekend, I went camping with all of my wife's cousins.

    I would have taken my road bike to explore the back roads of the Sierras, but our campsite was down a very bumpy five mile dirt road. So, as much as I wanted to get a good workout at high elevation with my road bike, I figured my mtb would be a lot more practical for this trip.

    So I took the bike out on the second day of the trip for a few miles on fire roads and maybe some trails.

    Holy crap. Did you know that hills on trails are steeper than hills on roads? There were places where my granny gear just wasn't granny enough. And when I could keep my wheels turning, I was going so slow that the bike was impossible to control. And when I did get enough torque to get going, my back wheel often spun in place. Trust me, I've never made my rear wheel spin on my Trek 1000, even with my 12-26 Shimano Sora drivetrain.

    Then, I had to go downhill. I have more grey hairs now. There were rocks and stuff in the road. If I went too fast, I feared that my bike (and I along with it) would be bounced around like the time I tried playing with my Hot Wheels on a cobblestone walkway. If I tried to go slow, it was like I was going to go over the handlebars, provided that the wheels of my bike didn't slip. Which was another problem. Did you know that dusty dirt roads are actually slippery? Many times I tried to stop, but kept sliding.

    I did find a good use for compact geometry on mountain bikes, however. It makes carrying your bike over the "technical" sections of single track much easier.

  2. #2
    close to 2000 madbiker555's Avatar
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    But the technical sections on single track are the fun part! You just need more confidence while going over these parts. And there is a big difference in mountain biking and road biking. But at least you had the chance to explore the world of moutain biking.

  3. #3
    You know you want to. Eatadonut's Avatar
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    haha you had it easy - my first real bike ride was on the road, there was a hill, and then a curb, and then a wal-mart bike straight to the trash.

    my second ride was on a borrowed Giant Iguana, down half a mountain. STRAIGHT down. I was too scared to use the front brake at all, couldn't feather the rear brake enough to keep from skidding down, and was just trying as hard as I could not to hit the girl in front of me. I was scared to death, and by the time I got to the bottom could barely breathe.

    And that's when I fell in love with biking
    Weather today: Hot. Humid. Potholes.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
    This last weekend, I went camping with all of my wife's cousins.

    I would have taken my road bike to explore the back roads of the Sierras, but our campsite was down a very bumpy five mile dirt road. So, as much as I wanted to get a good workout at high elevation with my road bike, I figured my mtb would be a lot more practical for this trip.

    So I took the bike out on the second day of the trip for a few miles on fire roads and maybe some trails.

    Holy crap. Did you know that hills on trails are steeper than hills on roads? There were places where my granny gear just wasn't granny enough. And when I could keep my wheels turning, I was going so slow that the bike was impossible to control. And when I did get enough torque to get going, my back wheel often spun in place. Trust me, I've never made my rear wheel spin on my Trek 1000, even with my 12-26 Shimano Sora drivetrain.

    Then, I had to go downhill. I have more grey hairs now. There were rocks and stuff in the road. If I went too fast, I feared that my bike (and I along with it) would be bounced around like the time I tried playing with my Hot Wheels on a cobblestone walkway. If I tried to go slow, it was like I was going to go over the handlebars, provided that the wheels of my bike didn't slip. Which was another problem. Did you know that dusty dirt roads are actually slippery? Many times I tried to stop, but kept sliding.

    I did find a good use for compact geometry on mountain bikes, however. It makes carrying your bike over the "technical" sections of single track much easier.

    Great story. Your rear wheel spin is due to your center of gravity. You were probably too far forward with no weight to support your torque. The downhill part...that just takes nerves. I can't tell you how many times I've been going 30+mph on a rocky downhill section and almost crapped myself. The reaction time is minimal and if your front wheel gets off line you cannot recover as quickly. I compare it to driving off the shoulder of the road in an automobile....you don't just jerk the wheel to the left (depending on which country you're in) to get back on the road.
    Sounds like quite a crash course you got...hope it wasnt enough to keep you off the trails!

  5. #5
    Senior Member CranxOC's Avatar
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    LOL! Great post!

    Here are a couple of tips for the climbing sections to keep you from spinning away:

    1. Use your arms. No, I don't mean to pedal with your arms but, when you're climbing a steep pitch, pull back on the handlebars during the power portion of your pedal-stroke (like you're rowing a boat) and drive the rear tire into the ground. This helps add some traction to your ride.

    2. Make sure you're drivind down on the back wheel without dropping your center of gravity too far back as this will cause you to "dolphin" (i.e. your front wheel will come off the ground). On very steep climbs, I always get my butt as far to the front of my saddle as possible (without becoming less...shall we say..."masculine" by having the front of the saddle poke me in the... ) and lean forward a bit. This keeps some weight over the front tire while simultaneously maintaining tractions.

    3. Gear down before you get to the climb. On my roadie, I can generally make shifts anywhere I want while on my MTB it just isn't possible. When in doubt, go granny; you can always "gear up" when you get on the climb.

    As for the descents; I'm solid on those too but we have quite a few "shuttle monkeys" on these boards who can probably be a bit more detailed in their explanation that can I.

    Good luck and stick with the dirt; you'll learn to love it!
    "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein

  6. #6
    I Am Online Now! G-Unit's Avatar
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    Nice post! I never thought I'd need a granny gear either until I started mountain biking, found out the hard way by trying to go up a steep rock and fell backwards because I was on the middle chainring
    I rock peas on my head but donít call me a pea head.
    Bees on my head but donít call me a bee head.
    Bruce Leeís on my head but donít call me a Lee head.
    Now please excuse me, I gots to get my tree fed.

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