Gustave de Laureal
Although there are many forms of cycling, the sport of mountain biking has benefits that outweigh the drawbacks of other cycling forms.
The most common forms of cycling include BMX, road and mountain. Each cycling style cultivates its own independent culture. Each category has benefits, skill sets and drawbacks that set them apart.
BMX is a balance based sport. It entails a smaller, usually 20-inch wheel, bikes. Riders often remove the breaks and attempt to preform tricks in an urban environment. These cyclists often achieve a highly coveted sense of control and balance.
A drawback of BMX culture is that the participants are often viewed in a strict, bipolar context. BMX riders are either viewed as punks, or highly talented people expressing themselves in a physical form like dance or rap.
BMX riding is a rock-and-a-hard-place learning curve. Many injuries are associated with BMX riding. This is due to the urban and punk nature of the sport.
“BMX will often preform tricks in a city, which is filled with cars, concrete, overly concerned citizens and broken teeth,” said Benjamin Redwine, who has been riding BMX since 1992.
On the other end of the spectrum, lies the category of road bikers. A road bike usually consists of skinny 27 inch tires and a lightweight construction.
A road bike is also laid out so that the rider can ride long distances on a smooth road surface at high speeds. The handlebars are dropped down in a style called, dropbar.
This downward style lowers the rider’s drag equivalency and center of gravity. This position improves handling, better power delivery and a bad back.
There are many apparent dangers of road biking. Riding road is likely the most dangerous form of cycling. Many road cyclists ride their bikes on roads designed for cars. Sharing the road is important, but many divers do not respect road bikers for their stuck up reputation and drive dangerously around them.
Riders on the road have the same rights as a car. They have the right to use the entire lane if they need to. It is common courtesy to stick to the far right side of the road, although it is not legally required. According to law, there is still a person moving from A to B who has the same rights as anybody in a car.
Roads may, or may not, have bike lanes. Even if the road has a bike lane, it will not stop a high speed 5,000 pound metal missile from wiping the road with your blood.
Road biking can be as dangerous as BMX riding. This is because both styles deal with the independent factor that is beyond your control – people.
“People are dangerous. People are stupid. People are ignorant, and people are oblivious,” said an anonymous member of the cycling team.
A bike lane will not stop a vehicle from plowing you down. It will not stop a drunk driver, nor can it prevent texting and driving. People on the road are not a function of your environment that you can control.
When a road cyclist is on the road, they are trusting strangers with their life. It is nearly impossible to control the independent variables of when and how you get hit.
I have been hit by a car before. Last year, in the intramural fields parking lot, I was T-boned and thrown 35 feet down the road. I was then propelled over the hood of the car, and proceeded to bounce off the trunk window of a Chevrolet Tahoe. This is why I switched to strictly mountain biking.
Mountain biking, has its own benefits, drawbacks and culture. One major drawback is geolocation. Some people live in very flat areas and can’t afford to drive to a hilly area every time they want to go for a bike ride. Location marginally limits this activity.
Another drawback of mountain biking is the fact that it takes years of practice to effectively call yourself a mountain biker. Once you get the hang of it, you surround yourself with a laid back, relaxed group of people. The mountain biking community is incredibly tight-knit. Mountain bikers are, generally, not considered abrasive or punkish like road or BMX riders.
One of the most crucial benefits of mountain biking over the other two forms of cycling is that you can control your environment. There is, usually, no legal argument for a tree. When mountain biking, there are significantly less powerful independent factors that lie out of your control.
Mountain bikers ride on a trail. A mountain bike trail usually does not have metal missiles whizzing past you. Although a trail may look steep, the only uncontrollable factor is usually yourself.