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So I finally got myself a road bike after 11 years or so of mountain biking (actually Leah got it through Performance). It’s a Giant OCR-C2 and it’s a sweet ride. Leah had it weighed and the sucker barely tips the scale at 20 pounds. The wonders of modern materials science…

Once when I was in middle school I borrowed a kid’s 10-speed road bike and cruised it up and down the block. I had never ridden a bike with gears or hand brakes and I immediately fell in love with the speed and the ease of pedaling. I asked my parents for a 10-speed for Christmas that year but on Christmas morning I found a 10-speed mountain bike under the tree. At that point I don’t think I knew the difference between mountain and road bikes and I was happy to get the bike but in the back of my mind I knew I still wanted to be a roadie.

In high school mountain biking was the cool thing to do among my group of friends so I stuck with the fat tires and upgraded my Western Auto brand bike to a used Bridgestone MB-5. It was a great bike, though that was in the days before any kind of suspension. I think some people did have front shocks on their bikes but it was ultra expensive and I only paid $200 for my whole bike!

This morning I took the Giant out for a spin around the country roads outside Duke University into Orange County. Before I knew it I had ridden almost 30 miles in an hour and 45 minutes! While I was riding I was thinking about the things I like about road biking as compared to mountain biking. For one thing I got to experience some new scenery since I’ve mountain biked every legal (and some illegal) trail within a 250 mile radius of my house. This morning I saw a roadside tomato stand in front of a house and an RV park I never knew existed. Road biking also presents a better opportunity for using a GPS in training. I’ve been having problems getting good GPS signals on the local trails due to tree cover; on a road bike, you’re almost always able to get a good signal. Road biking is also much faster than mountain biking, though I think the sensation of speed is comparable for both (since you have trees whizzing by in close proximity on your mountain bike). One of my least favorite things about mountain biking is worrying about my gear and keeping it well maintained. With a road bike, your ride isn’t as exposed to dirt and mud that sucks so much of the life out of your drive train.

I’m certainly not ready to give up the mountain bike yet and I’m still dedicated to finding the best, most scenic singletrack in the world. Some of the things I’ve been able to see on a mountain bike are completely inaccessible on a road bike. But for now, while living in North Carolina with a limited set of new and exciting trails, I think I might just get into road riding for a while. Save the singletrack for vacations to more exciting destinations…

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