mountain biking – an introduction

Hadrian on a Bicycle is pleased to welcome a new writer to the blog, r.i. mountaineer.

I’ve wanted for some time to recruit a stable of regular contributors to help with drafting content, attracting readers, and generally ensuring a broader and more representative range of perspectives on this marvelous two-wheeled life. I’m thrilled that I was able to cajole r.i. mountaineer into being part of this endeavor. I’m even more excited that he’s taken up cycling again.

You can read a bit about him and what prompted him to start riding and writing on the “About” page. His first post is below. (I’m still looking for others, especially in the vicinity of Adrian. Drop me a line if you’re interested.)

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I recently purchased a 22” 1996 Raleigh M40 mountain bike off of craigslist for $125 (pictures forthcoming).  I wish that I could say that a lot of research, investigation, and planning went into that purchase, but truth be told very little did. I did some due diligence by looking up product reviews on www.mtbr.com and size charts to verify that at least on the surface the bike was a good fit, but beyond that nothing else. Primarily due to the stigma of it, I knew that I didn’t want to purchase a bike from a local Target or Wal-Mart and that I wanted a recognized name. But aside from that, my criteria for a “new” bike was basic: price and looks. So after meeting with the guy from craigslist, noticing that the bike he was selling was shiny, and talking him down from $140, I left feeling like I had made a good buy.

I have no real idea why I had “mountain bike” in my mind as the type of bike to purchase, since my last bicycling point of reference was a late 1980’s Peugeot touring bike that I gave away on a whim in college whilst feeling charitable. (Idiot!, Idiot!, Idiot!) Perhaps loosely in the back of my mind was the notion that I would ride the plethora of trails boasted by southern Rhode Island’s numerous parks and management areas (more on that in future posts). But I think primarily it was because mountain bikes get more press. If you’re a regular mainstream guy like me and are frequenting stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Sports Authority, Dick’s, etc., you will be hard pressed to find one or two touring bikes amidst the countless mountains and hybrids.

So with a 12-speed touring bike mentality I mounted my 21-speed mountain bike and experienced immediate pain and agony. Granted, the hurt was mostly due to being out of shape. But it was also due in part to the betrayal of my youthful memories of flying top speed on the Peugeot. This bike seemed heavier and less free flowing with the knobby tires reluctantly releasing their grip on the road. Plus, what the heck am I going to do with 9 extra gears? Nonetheless, I stayed with riding it on the roads to the library and grocery store and hitting the bike path with the family, all the while biding my time until the right moment to break it to my wife that I think I made a mistake.

Then on one particular day after reading my brother’s 3rd or 4th post with a twinge of jealousy about him averaging 16 mph over 60 miles while riding PALM (where’s the proof!), I finally took to the trails of the Carolina Management Area adjacent to my home and discovered mountain biking. I was instantly transported back, not to my biking days as a teen, but to elementary school days of cutting through neighborhood yards, popping wheelies, and bunny hopping over curbs.  My M40 performed marvelously by handling with ease the rocky, loose, and wet terrain (it’s been raining a lot in RI). I single-tracked through paths in which I had to hold the handle bars in the center in order to protect my hands from being whacked. I pedaled through open fields where the track was a barely visible tire rut with grass up to my waist. I was at the height of sibling rivalry. Sure my brother was cruising by the landscape at impressive speeds, but I was in it, taming it. I returned home, muddy, soaked, scrapped, exhilarated, and triumphant.

I’ve discovered that the biking community is huge with a lot of niches: casual riding, commuting, touring, racing, and mountain biking, with a mixture of all and everything in between. But for me, at this moment, I’m exploring what the trails have to offer.

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4 responses to “mountain biking – an introduction

  1. “…mountain bikes get more press.” That’s an interesting observation. Has anyone else found this to be true? Is it characteristic of certain locations?

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find something like this in the four corners region of the southwest United States, for example. But I wouldn’t have expected it in Rhode Island.

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  3. MTBs usually do since they’re the jeep wrangler of the cycling world, especially the full suspension models these days, a rugged go anywhere bike. Though I always thought road bikes got more press since they are raced alot ( Tour de France ) and widely used for city commuting or atleast from what I’ve always seen. I’ve owned 2 MTBs so far: one full suspension 24 (wheel diameter) and a rigid 26. I sold the 24 for the 26 and it’s been modified for city use with slick tires but they’re still the wide mountain rim/wheel since I can’t afford a real road bike etc right now.

    Interesting side note about mountain bike press.. there’s a cereal type of bar commercial that has a woman mountain biking in the country. Good ad possibly selling both their product and the idea of cycling. It’d be nice to see a few less cars and a few more cycles on the roads overall. But that’s my 2 cents on this one.

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