A roadie does MTB

This weekend I went to the 'dark side' - i rode offroad. There are some nice trails that I've been planning on visiting for some time, but they can't be ridden on a road bike.

I've never ridden a MTB. I borrowed one and rode very carefully. 

I rode up the paved road to Sredno Vodno, then turned to the gravel paths. Riding a MTB is a world away from riding a road bike. The ground you ride on is is quite different and so is the bike. 

Off the asphalt
No more than 100 meters after i went onto the gravel paths, i started passing over loose ground, wet grass and mud. My road bike instincts didn't apply at all. I was fully expecting for the tyres to slip or dig in and braced myself for a fall, but the MTB is a different kind of animal. It just went on, albeit slowing down a little. 
A view never seen with a road bike
I loosened up, rode on and enjoyed the park around me. Pretty soon i reached the end of the gravel track and i was back on asphalt. I decided to go around Vodno and ride up the gravel path that climbs the southern face of the mountain. 

My name is MUD
But I wasn't on the main road. And to reach it, I passed through a patch where the paved road wasn't finished, so I rode and walked over wet red clay. 

When I finally reached the main road, my tyres were completely covered in red mud. You don't see that on a road bike, and I definitely don't appreciate mud flying in all directions from the tyres. I spent the next 30 minutes at a roadside water fountain washing and cleaning the red mud off the tyres. 

No turning back now, up the mountain. I've never ridden up the south side of Vodno, so I took a wrong turn once, and rode up a nasty 500 meters of 15% incline, just to turn back and ride down and look for the next right turn. 

Quiet road up, into the mist
The gravel climb
Finally on the right path, i hit gravel again. A little more experience this time, i managed to get a good pace up. The thing i worried most is tyres slipping on loose gravel. But the MTB has such flexible gearing it's easy to get good cadence for the climb. I took my time upwards, testing the cadence, gears and the best path over the gravel. 

The climb was around 6 km, and I the tyres slipped only once - probably due to me being impatient and trying to power through a climb. The nature is fantastic, everything is quiet, there is no traffic noise and you can just enjoy the surroundings. A whole different experience than flying on a road biks

The cross at the top of Vodno
I reached the top of Vodno to a great view and warmed up with a cup of tea.

The asphalt downhill
Towards Skopje and into the pollution
The downhill ride was slow and safe. The MTB took it's time to accelerate, and didn't come close to the speeds a road bike easily reaches. On the other hand, I was able to ride over very uneven asphalt, cracks and leaves with full confidence. Again, the brakes don't care whether it's wet or dry.

Riding a MTB was a nice experience. I loved riding through nature, not worrying about cars and the ease with which the MTB plows through terrain that will cause serious problems for a road bike. But I didn't care for the mud and the lack of speed. Just do both, have the best of both worlds.

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About Bozidar Spirovski

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  1. Off road cycling is becoming more and more popular. There's a whole new segment of bikes with disc brakes. Lot's more choices for people to ride so much more terrain. No longer are we locked into road or munition biking. Of course I would not want to ride a century on knobbies, nor would I want to go downhilling on my area bike. A brave new world is opening up to all of us.