According to my Strava feed, many of you have been taking your mountain bike for it’s first spin this season. And with good reason. Winter roads can be pretty sketchy. You often get caught in the dark accidently and the road can be slippery with wet leaves and icy patches.
Plus, and you have heard this before, adding some off road cycling to your training improves your road biking skills and fitness. British cycling has a good article explaining why road cyclist should go off road every now then.
Me and a mountain bike
My experiences on a mountain bike come to a grand total of three.
I once had the privilege of going out to Vancouver’s breathtaking North Shore with the Arc’teryx team where they taught me the principles of mountain biking. This was 6 years ago. Experience two was on my friend’s birthday last December, when he decided to get everyone on a bike to celebrate his birthday. I was hooked after that day and thought I would get a mountain bike straight away. Turns out I got a new road bike instead. My third experience is one many Dutchies will have. A beginners trail through the Belgian Ardennes ending with Chouffe beers in the Brewery/brasserie in Achouffe.
My first mountain bike
However. After reading up on the advantages of mountain bike training and living right along one of Holland’s best mountain bike tracks I couldn’t stay behind. Salt Magazine put together an attractive book listing all 115(!) permanent MTB trails in the Netherlands, which you can also download as an app, all for just 6,50 euro.
Luckily, a friend had an MTB hand me down too small for him, which I was allowed to collect from his shed. It’s a VANTUYL, handmade in Holland. I’m guessing it’s around 20 years old, from back in the days when aluminum frames were a novelty. For it is written on the frame in huge capitals. I think it’s kind off funky.
Full or front suspension?
Depending on VANTUYL’s advice, I might fit it with a front suspension fork, for it has no suspension at all now. I was told full suspension MTB’s on most Dutch (it’s a pretty flat country) trails is not essential. In fact, getting muddy and messy is better on a front suspension bike. They are easier to keep clean and are more durable. Plus full suspension mountainbikes are more expensive and heavier. Read about the pro’s and con’s of front or full suspension here.
Then again, the MTB’s suspension and fat tyres might be overrated and what you really want is a cyclocross bike and some good gloves. Here’s a video featuring Yoann Barelli from the Giant Factory Off-Road team showing us how it’s done.