The Search for Dirt - #RideMoreOffroad

It might sound obvious, but in order to be a great mountain bike rider, or racer, you need to ride a mountain bike; a lot! It is something that I realised in earnest at the Island Games mountain bike events last year.

Mountain biking is about a lot more than just your engine, which you can train effectively on a road bike. It is about handling; it is about confidence; it is about core strength and upper body strength. It is a whole different world, for both mind and body, than the world of skinny tyres and tarmac.

2016 is all about change for me. It is a year of trying something fresh and new. One of the proposed changes, was that I pledged to myself I would ride more off-road. The objective was to more often take to the trails; to stir up some dust (or mud!), and find spice in the variety and challenge that off-road riding has to offer.

The problem for me, in the past, has been that I enjoy riding on the road too much... Road riding is simple, fast, hassle-free and time efficient; a road bike generally takes a lot less of a battering than your mountain bike or cyclocross bike. I have always loved riding off-road, but it can be hard to get a good ride in, when you only have a short space of time. As a result, most of my weekend rides have been on the road for the past few years, especially in winter.

Now, I have a solution. Commuting. Or, more specifically, commuting on an off-road capable bike.

After a collision with a van back in February, I was forced to pull my old mountain bike back into action for the daily commute. I graced it with a set of slick tyres and new disc brakes, which helped to make things a bit easier; ultimately though, it remained my trusty off-road rig of yester-year. I soon realised what I had been missing. Or perhaps, I remembered how much fun it had been to have a cyclocross bike to commute on for a month last summer (blog link). The ability to dart off down that gravel path; the silent trails in the rising and setting sun; the bumpy ride, helping to wake you up in the morning and revive you at the end of the day. Off-road commuting is fantastic.

The mountain bike was a bit of a gap-fill, as since I wrote my post of 'Getting Cross' last November, I've been in search of a cyclocross bike to use on the daily commute. For me, the skinnier tyres and drop handlebars provide that bit more speed for the inevitable road sections between the trails; which provide the perfect combination for a commuting bike. Finally, it has arrived... Welcome the Kona Private Jake.

A privateer cyclocross racer, capable of anything you can throw at it. The Kona Private Jake is a special bike. I will write a full bike profile soon, on the Wiggle blog. For me, this is a dream of a commuting bike, and I'm looking forward to numerous weekend rides and touring adventures on it too. Suddenly my commute has surprises; it has new routes and new adventures; it has more manic grinning!

So, my advice is simple: #RideMoreOffroad this summer. Whether that be mountain bike or cyclocross. Variety is the spice of life, and off-road commuting and mileage is like adding a bird's eye chilli to your bike riding. Enjoy!


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