I started cycling, almost a year and a half ago now, with cost effectiveness in mind. I knew one thing – that I wanted to do a triathlon, bad. I’d been running for years and it was getting a little monotonous. I still enjoyed running enough, and I certainly loved being fit, but I rarely looked forward to running. When I decided to buy a bike, I started out as cheaply as I could get with a $20 yard sale Huffy, then bought a friend’s spare Trek 3700 that I still own and love. I rode the hell out of that bike for almost four months before picking up my first road bike. I went the same route with the road bike, as inexpensive as possible, choosing it on Craigslist. After finding out the hard way that it was too small, I picked up a legitimate used, carbon Trek at my local bike shop – cycling was never the same for me after that.
I’ve been to local trails mountain biking with a good friend of mine who I met through running, but have spent far more time on the road bike – 450 miles to 1 since January 1st. I love the road, everything about it – I can even live with the traffic – especially now that I’ve learned a few things about the road: 1. The more respect I have for motorists, the better they treat me. This isn’t always the case, I’ve been buzzed on the farthest right practicable more than once (that’d be left for you folks across the pond, obviously), but for the most part, folks around my neck of the woods are very decent. and 2. The more I look like I belong there, the more I’m left alone. I’m a cyclist for crying out loud and even I get bugged by cyclists on the wrong side of the road – or even worse, those who change lanes depending on which side has the traffic – if ever there was an example of colossal stupidity, that ranks right up there.
That said, where I used to ride my mountain bike on the road on a daily basis, now that I’ve got a road bike, it’s just not the same… I’ve been out on the dirt roads three times this year on the fat tire bike, twice with Mrs. BgddyJim and once solo. The two times with my wife was great because I was simply happy to be out for a ride with my wife, but on the solo trip all I could think about was how much I’d rather be out on a trail somewhere, or on the paved roads on my road bike. Now that I’ve got a road bike, while I dig the fact that there’s hardly any traffic on our dirt roads, when I’m on my mountain bike, I just can’t help but feeling like I’m missing out on the dips, turns, roots, rocks and crazy bike handling that comes with trail riding. It’s also so much slower, I feel like I’m pedaling my butt off but not getting anywhere – in other words, I have a hard time getting into the gravel road riding anymore. It’s just not the same, unless I’m riding with my wife.
This will always boil down differently for different people, but if I had to do it all over again and choose one over the other I’d probably still pick the mountain bike over the road bike because of its versatility. Thankfully I’m not that unfortunate, because going from the mountain bike to a road bike was a natural progression for me. I started out happy to be riding and to be able to do so on a daily basis without hobbling myself for the other 22 or 23 hours a day as would have been the case with running, but once I found out how enjoyable it is to ride on the road, especially on really long rides, in groups and on mountain roads, there was really no going back.