The winter months have bedded in, and with those come some tricky issues for consistent outside training. The two most obvious of those are the colder temperatures coupled with the shorter daylight hours available. This is where I feel mountain biking provides a superb alternative for ensuring we can still get out and ride for longer durations and crucially, more safely too.
Warmth: Getting kitted up with enough layers to try and stay warm for longer weekend rides can at times seem futile. No matter how many base layers and jackets we add, it seems that the cold will somehow seep in and I especially find that hands and feet always go numb!
Mountain biking can allow us to go off road and into the cover of the trees, which generally feels warmer because of the natural protection provided (less wind = feeling warmer!) We might also have to get on and off the bike from time to time in order to open gates or climb over fallen trees etc. Personally I think this helps to stave off the numbness in my extremities much better than when out on my road bike.
Intensity: Riding the mtb takes us off the roads and onto trail networks that are generally far more undulating than the open road, which can make us work a lot harder (more bang for our buck!) Roads (designed for cars after all) tend to stay fairly level for long sections whereas trails can be unpredictable due to the fact that they can go anywhere!
Safety: Feeling safe out on the open roads can increasingly feel like a lottery. This is especially during winter time with the low winter sun (if you are lucky to see it!) or more commonly the dull and and miserable ‘greyness’. Lights and brightly coloured clothing are fundamental essentials to riding safely outdoors at this time of year. However, the beauty of riding the mountain bike on traffic free trails and paths is that this ‘visibility’ worry can be taken away.
Skills: Riding our bikes on the open roads doesn’t easily improve our bike handling skills without making a specific effort to do so. Mountain biking on the other hand creates a whole host of opportunities to broaden that skillset within each ride, no matter how basic or complicated the route or terrain happens to be.