I had a chuckle listening to my favorite radio station… “Would you like to lose weight by taking only one pill a day? We have too many pills to give away and not enough participants….”
No kidding. Would you like to cure your gout? It’ll cause your balls to fall off and your hair to turn purple. Where can I sign up for that? Want to cure jock itch? Assuming that you passed on the gout pills that will make your balls fall off (if you didn’t just give those pills a minute), you can luckily now have your jock itch cured at the expense of your heart, liver and kidneys! Woohoo!
You hear some of these commercials lately; “do you want to lower your cholesterol with only one pill? It’ll rot your gut, but you don’t need that small intestine anyway, do you?”
Hell, you can even have potato chips that make your sphincter leak!
Here’s a thought: Would you like to lose weight without taking pills?
Get off the freaking couch and move that ass! Nobody looks down on you like you think they do:
Hell, the vast majority of us – and by vast, I mean like 80-90 freaking percent of us – are cheering for you!
MOVE THAT ASS, and keep your sphincter in tact! WOOHOO!
Sorry, I don’t know what came over me… I suppose I just had to figure out a way to constructively use the word “sphincter” in a post.
Off of my awesome trail experience yesterday I managed to concentrate on exactly what I was doing right and where I could have improved. After crunching the data in my head this morning, I’m going to put together a series of short posts in five parts. Today’s first part will have to do with equipment, because that’s the most important and easiest to do something about.
I’ve written before, but I’ll reiterate, the three most important accessories besides the bike in mountain biking are (in this order): The Helmet. If you plan on riding on anything more than a two-track, you would literally be insane, stupid or single with no kids to attempt mountain biking at speed without a helmet (believe it or not I saw one guy out there yesterday – absolutely nuts). Falling is simply too commonplace, and on some of the steeper climbs, it’s easy to catch your tire and fall over backwards if your weight is too far back. Second in order of importance is glasses. If your trails are through wooded areas, as ours are – chances are you’ll be hit in the face by low hanging branches no fewer than 20 or 30 times every time you go out. Third is clip-less pedals and mountain biking shoes. The climbs and descents are more manageable when you’re not worrying about your feet slipping off of the pedals.
The most important piece of equipment for heavy trail riding is obviously the bike. We’re talking about technical mountain biking here, not rail trail riding – leave the hybrid at home if you plan on moving fast, you’ll need the wider tires. At the very least if you are on a hybrid, put knobby tires on it and watch for passing traffic. Otherwise, the major choices are:
Cantilever or Disc Brakes?
Cantilever brakes are cheap but don’t work as well as disc brakes. It’s not rocket science. If you can afford the disc brakes, you want them. I ride a standard issue Trek 3700 with plain old cantilever brakes – the better brakes are important, but not entirely necessary.
Full Suspension or Hard Tail?
The suspension question gets tricky. For straight dirt riding there’s nothing better than full suspension. Speed is your friend when mountain biking (within reason of course) and having front and rear suspension will keep the tires in contact with the ground more than only having front suspension. In addition, with no rear suspension, the rider has to absorb the bumps with their butt and back or their legs with their butt off of the saddle. On the other hand, if you’re going to be riding on rail trails or roads with your bike, the rear suspension will rob you of efficiency because some of the power to the crank will be lost on flexing suspension parts. If yours is going to be a multi-use mountain bike, get suspension components that can be locked out or a hard tail.
Gearing? Opposite that of the Road Bike, there are no points for bigger chain rings and smaller cassette sprockets. So called granny gears are good. In fact, many people do away with their biggest chain ring – you probably won’t need it except in extreme circumstances – I went through 22 miles yesterday and never once touched the big ring. This will change if you’re putting road tires on your mountain bike – you’ll need that 44 tooth big ring. For the cassette, 8, 9 or 10 speed, they’re all good, just make sure you get a few nice bigger rings in there for the lower gears, they make climbing a breeze! I’ve got 21 speeds on my 3700 – in 1st or 2nd gear I can climb hills with ease that would be very difficult to walk without grabbing tree trunks on the way up. Just be careful to keep your weight evenly divided if not a little forward – it’s easy to fall over backwards in those lower gears – lots of torque.
If you’re doing it right, at 11-12 mph on a decent trail you’ll be working just as hard as if you were cruising 18-19 mph on a road bike on incredibly bumpy/sandy/rugged terrain. Getting a spot to take a swig on a mountain bike isn’t the same as on a road bike where the roads are more than likely reasonably smooth. Camelbaks are good. Besides, your water bottles, being low to the ground, will get dust and dirt all over them. Of course, a little dirt never hurt anyone, but let’s not get too silly. Just watch your center of gravity with a Camelbak.
When it comes to knobs, bigger isn’t necessarily better. My buddy Tim runs Kenda Small Block 8 tires and he’s fast as hell. I still have my Bontrager Connection Trail 26″ tires that came with the bike (in ’08) and they’re great – again, with the smaller knobs and with a continuous strip in the middle for smoother road riding.
Show your hands some love with some good fingerless mountain gloves. Just make sure they’re padded; your hands, arms and shoulders will thank you for it.
That mainly wraps up the equipment. Clothing is a lot more laid back in mountain biking than road riding, so you really won’t have to sweat that too much. You’ll see everything from cotton tank tops and cargo shorts to full cycling kit. It’s rather up to you there. I wear a lightweight cycling jersey with cargo shorts over my cycling shorts (so I can carry my car keys).