There’s no denying that tomorrow’s Roll of Honour will be a mind blowing occasion. A checkpoint in time to take stock of my very brief yet eventful time trialling career and a chance to celebrate an awesome season - three time Scottish national time trial champion with individual gold medals in 50 mile, 100 mile and middle distance BAR (Best All Rounder) setting new Scottish records for the latter two, 3:46:10 and 28.297 mph respectively. I’ve also been told by Scottish Cycling that I have the 25 mile Scottish Veteran record and it looks like I’m getting interviewed at the ceremony too as part of the whole shooting match. Bonkers!
But how have I got this far in such little time? Simply answer. Mountain biking or MTB. I’ve been a MTBer for nearly thirty years. It’s no great secret, but I am amazed that a lot of “cyclists” are resistant to it.
Every Wednesday I coach the brilliant Velodees. We’re progressing rapidly both with skills and techniques, but last Wednesday was actually only the first time we actually made it onto the trails (see photo). And it was dark, icy and cold, but it didn’t stop Anne from borrowing a MTB from yours truly or Ny (who’s in her final trimester) from attempting some of the various features that trail riding throws up (bridges, steps, roots, gaps in walls).
In fact just this morning Ny was telling me how much more comfortable it to ride to ride a MTB versus a road bike when pregnant and was amazed how it took her so long to realise this.
But then you don’t know what you don’t know. So why are so many “cyclists” resistant to MTB? I don’t know is the honest answer.
But I do know a solution. This year I was interviewed for an article in June’s Cycling Active magazine. I revealed the method in my madness was to subtly and perhaps subliminally coerce and progress road cyclists towards MTB. My trick is to introduce CX as a staging post. For me CX is taking a road bike off the road; roadie purists can just about soak that concept up. And then once they happy getting muddy and sliding about, falling off without breaking collarbones, the next natural progression is onto the MTB. It’s worked a treat for my wonderful friend and client Amanda Tweedie. She feels her bike handling has improved, it provides her with variety to her training, she’s stronger in the climbs and she’s also doing the Strathpuffer this January for the first time as a pair too!
So I’m not going to sell it, but I urge you to try it. At least thrice. It’s fun, it keeps you warm. It provides you with intervals training and you can do it in any weather at any time of year. My best and most memorable rides have been in rubbish weather in the deepest midwinter. I recall Highland dancing with two long term mates from Uni on the hairpins of the Corrieyairack Pass in a driving sleet blizzard just to stay warm. Team work. But then that all went to pot as we then raced each other back to our cottage once we realised there was only hot water for a single bath!MTB. Guaranteed adventure, whether it’s the local woods or the Tour Divide (and I have plans to do both next year one of these on a tandem).