The New Ride

Yes, as some would say, I have crossed over to the ‘Dark Side.’ I broke down and bought a mountain bike.

The New Bike!

The New Bike!

When hearing about the new purchase, my mother-in-law told my wife, “but he already rides his bike up mountains!”

My reasoning for this purchase was really for the off-season. With a potential heavy training schedule around the corner, I wanted to give myself some variety. Tri-City Cyclers have an Urban Assault ride that cruises the downtown trails and parks of Columbia, tours the university, city buildings, and generally heads all over the place. That’s a fun ride, and not really possible on a road bike.

Ironically, I bought a mountain bike to ride in the downtown streets, and plan to use my road bike in the mountains.

While my intentions are not to become a mountain biker, this could lead to some outdoor adventures down the road. When traveling to the Carolinas, I could explore the trails in Pisgah and Dupont forest. There are also nearby trails like FATs in Augusta, Harbison in Columbia, and the Palmetto Trail throughout the state. Someday I may even decide to take a stab at a more extreme mountain bike adventure. The Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell could be fun. The same goes for the Leadville 100, Shenandoah 100, and who knows what else?

The bike is a Trek Stache 7. I bought a close-out model from Brian, who just conquered the Haute Route Alps, at Outspokin’ Bicycles in Columbia. This is a hardtail 29er. At first I was tempted to go for a full suspension just in case I lean towards more serious adventures down the road, but opted for a mid-range bike. This will be plenty as my second bike, as I learn how to ride the trails.

Why ride on the road when you can ride a path?

Why ride on the road when you can ride a path?

My first ride was around Fort Jackson, where I have sweated buckets on my road bike. The mountain bike gave me a new perspective of the fort. I was able to explore areas that I have curiously ridden past numerous times, such as Twin Lakes Park, beyond Ewell Road, and various side roads and trails. That’s what I like most about the bike. I’m no longer confined to the constraints of the local roads. If I want to go somewhere, I can just go there.

One thing I noticed right away was the fitness difference, and riding on the fort was a good way to make a comparison since I’m so familiar with riding here with a road bike. From a cardio perspective, they are apples and oranges. With the road bike, once warmed up, my heart rate seldom gets below a tempo heart rate zone. With the mountain bike, the heart rate was almost always below tempo. It would elevate on more challenging terrain and, of course, uphill, which was a lot tougher. In this respect, it was like riding easy intervals. It is more like short sprinting, whereas the road bike is more of an endurance ride.

Golden Arrow was freshly paved with a bike lane. Nice!

Golden Arrow was freshly paved with a bike lane. Nice!

The first ride was a blast, and I hope for many more soon. The downside was that the injury became a problem, which I’ll discuss in more detail later.


12 responses to “The New Ride

  • bgddyjim

    Welcome to the world of mountain biking brother! You’ll also find out, after you’re healed probably, that mountain biking works the muscles in your legs differently. A lot more on the glutes. Also, when you get into the serious single tracks, you’ll get an upper-body workout out if the deal. Watch the sand on the downhill switchbacks. 😉

    • aaronwest

      I definitely noticed the difference in muscle workout. The upper hammies seemed to get more activity, and they were getting a bit sore toward the end of the workout. Also noticed that about sand. Seems like it rolls right over everything else, but sand is not stable.

      • bgddyjim

        Yup… Keep your butt and weight back, as far back on (or even off of) the saddle and use the front tire more as a rudder – it works but feels weird. 😉

  • Cherry

    The dark side! I too have joined this year although I’m not sure if it got kicked off the right way as I’m still recovering from a shoulder injury from mtb for 2 months now. It’s definitely different. I think we have the same front shocks! Enjoy! Scenery is definitely better on mtb

    • aaronwest

      Sorry about your shoulder injury. 😦

      Agree from my limited experience that scenery is better. It’s nice to get a break from looking at long, boring roads and occasionally a car or two.

  • Kevin Hames

    You should do the Shenandoah 100 sometime. Just did it last week. It’s a great ride but it’s obviously tough!

    • aaronwest

      A friend of mine also did it last week. Looks like a very tough, but awesome race. I have a ton of respect for mtb events, and think that if I take to this, I could work them into my road biking schedule.

  • Tim Etcheson

    Aaron, welcome to the dark side! Mt. Biking is a completely different experience to road riding. Different challenges, skills, (and bumps and bruises when the skills are lacking). We are blessed with some great riding in this area and this region. You will also love the Urban Assault. Can’t wait for winter. Tim

    • aaronwest

      I did the Urban Assault once on my road bike. Loved it, but not really the right bike for it. Cannot maneuver around the course, and the not much of a workout since those heavy bikes are slower.

      See you out there.

  • Jim Brennan

    You’ll love the off-rode riding. I went the other way around, off-road for years and just converted to a roadie over the past couple years. I love both, but it’s always nice to have the option to steer off the road and hit the trail. You got my attention with the Leadville 100. Very cool.

    • aaronwest

      Well, I don’t mean to write a check for myself that I cannot cash. Leadville would be awesome, but it’s more of a dream someday. As is the Breckenridge Mountain bike ride. I’m looking forward to exploring some more trails.

  • Laura Rice

    I’m sorry to hear that your injury will keep you off the bike for a while!

    Mountain biking is what started the whole cycling thing for me, so I’m always excited to see people trying it. I recently upgraded to a hardtail 29’r and I think it’s the best mountain bike set up out there right now. It does tend to make getting those technical skills on point a little harder than a 26, but makes up for it in how it rides over everything.

    When you’re ready for some DuPont recommendations, let me know!

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