Words: #CountryCyclist Ian Macleod
It’s just about a month until joBerg2C. Yesterday’s prologue that opened the 2014 Cape Epic has served as a timely reminder of just how much work I have to do before lining up with 799 other “VIPs” just outside the city on 25 April. But it also revived my excitement for mountain biking. I’ve tried to explain this with five of the many benefits of MTB.
1. Honesty (or something like it)
This really describes why I love sport. While I’ve never encountered a word that describes it to my satisfaction, ‘honesty’ comes close. There’s an honesty about sporting pursuits. It’s less about the overall result. That is a function of so many inputs – equipment, natural ability and several other factors muddy the waters here. The honesty I’m talking about happens in our own minds and isn’t relative to anyone else. It’s about every thought you have between starting a climb and finishing it. Whatever your muscular make-up, VO2 max, equipment etc, there’s an effort you must produce to achieve this. No shortcuts. No hired help. No ‘angel investor’ to bail you out. It feels like the most honest depiction of yourself you’ll ever encounter.
Countryside scenery is part of the deal when you ride a mountain bike. Training in the early morning, slugging it out in the afternoon heat or chasing a setting sun, it may be the most picturesque sport there is. If you’re a photographer or birder, the opportunities never end. The vistas are certainly a major drawcard of the joBerg2C. Starting in the unique crispness of a chilly Highveld morning, we’ll soon be into Free State plattelande, then the majestic Berg, until we twist through tropical KZN to the beach in Scottburgh.
It seems only good folk ride MTB. We all adore the outdoors, adventure and a good kuier while out on a ride. It’s a sense of community I’ve rarely experienced in sports.
MTB is hard on your equipment. From mud in the gears to bent derailleurs (usually accompanied by bruised knees and hurt pride), demand constant attention. The experts can do some of it, the rest requires your best efforts with minimal tools on the side of a track. Understanding your kit, fitting it, maintaining it and repairing it becomes a labour of love. However irrational, the more strife you endure with your bike, the stronger the bond between you – call it a cycling Stockholm syndrome.
This is probably the sole initial goal for many riders. It seems to wane, though. Perhaps the others just gain more prominence. Either way, being fit feels stupendous. And mountain biking can’t fail to get you fit.