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Trips, adventures, bikes, equipment, etc.
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Si
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Postby Si » 20 Oct 2007, 4:48pm

Welcome prof! Good point about MTB vs offroad - i think that I've done more offroad miles on my new tourer this year than my MTB.

"FreeRide" - I believe it comes from the terms used in extreme sports: freestyle, freemountain, etc. To mean a bike that can do (most of) the serious DH stuff, jumpy stuff, but can still, in theory, climb up the hill again. i.e. you are free to do a bit of everything on this bike. (the arguement rages: best of all worlds or compromise?)

As for built trails - I've built trails in the past and think that they have their place. They are especially good in areas that might be prone to errosion - if built right they will protect the area. They can also be a lot of fun and attract more people to try offroading. But, for my own riding I am with you in prefering the map, compas and trail dissappearing off into the wilds!

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Postby ransos » 22 Oct 2007, 10:48am

Si wrote:Welcome prof! Good point about MTB vs offroad - i think that I've done more offroad miles on my new tourer this year than my MTB.

"FreeRide" - I believe it comes from the terms used in extreme sports: freestyle, freemountain, etc. To mean a bike that can do (most of) the serious DH stuff, jumpy stuff, but can still, in theory, climb up the hill again. i.e. you are free to do a bit of everything on this bike. (the arguement rages: best of all worlds or compromise?)

As for built trails - I've built trails in the past and think that they have their place. They are especially good in areas that might be prone to errosion - if built right they will protect the area. They can also be a lot of fun and attract more people to try offroading. But, for my own riding I am with you in prefering the map, compas and trail dissappearing off into the wilds!


Yes - I think that the built trails are great for winter biking, as they're more weatherproof and you avoid causing unnecessary damage to local trails. The trails around Bristol are a quagmire in Winter, and Cwmcarn is only 45 mins away.

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Postby glueman » 22 Oct 2007, 6:24pm

Only a guess, but I wonder if the CTC-MTB crossover was thwarted about the time mountain bikes stopped having fittings for guards and a rack? Making a bike you could ride 50 miles on of which 30 is off-road is a much cannier proposition than a downhill headbanger.

Some ultra custom machines with scary price tags look remarkably like 80s mountainbikes to these old eyes. Each to their own. I await the spaghetti steel tubed 29er with guard eyes and a Brooks.

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Postby CJ » 23 Oct 2007, 2:28pm

The reason it's quiet on here is that whilst the majority of CTC members do ride on bridleways at least occasionally, and whilst many own a mountain-bike, very few regard themselves as a "mountain-biker".

There's always been an off-road element in CTC. The whole reason you have a right to ride on bridleways is thanks to CTC lobbying back in the 1960s - long before "mountain-biking" was even dreamt of. In those days we just called it "rough-stuff".

If CTC has a problem with mountain-biking it's that those of us who were already doing it resented the way these American upstarts and their British disciples pretended they'd invented something entirely new. In a sporting sense they had of course. The mountain-bike was born out of a downhill offroad race and led to the development of other new contests of cycling strrength, nerve and skill, all designed around the capabilities of this new piece of equipment.

That's the other part of the problem. "Mountain-biking" is an activity defined by its equipment, whereas the CTC view of cycling is not particularly equipment-centred. The best bike for us is one that can be completely ignored and forgotten about. Sure we like to get into wild places, and appreciate that a bicycle enables us to get there more easily than on foot, but beyond that we're not particularly concerned about the bike or whether we can actually ride it the whole way. This reluctance to drool over flashy new bikes and failure to rise to the challenge of riding over obstacles that, in fact, can be walked with a lot less effort, perplexes the true mountain-biker.

What drives the CTC-ite to go offroad is the acquisition of a deeper knowledge, understanding and love of the countryside - whereas yer typical mountain-biker just wants to have sex with it!

I realise that's a rather naughty bit of stereotyping, but it contains more than a grain of truth. I ride with an informal group of mountain-bikers that includes all sorts from CTC-ite explorers like me, to the more skills-oriented riders. We all have a good time, each in our own way, some of us in spite of the difficulties, others because of them! I don't see the point of man-made obstacle courses (stops me enjoying the view), whilst they don't appreciate pushing a bike through a bog - just because we've not been that way before!

I think it's unrealistic to expect riders for whom the scenery is merely a backdrop for trials of skill and strength, to join CTC. The racing organisations and providers of man-made trails fulfill their needs. We are here to represent those who want use a bike for travel, transport or healthy recreation and "access all areas" should be CTC's offroad brief. Obviously there's a whole lot of overlap when it comes to "recreation". There's a bit of an explorer in all of us and even I am not completely immune to a challenge.

Initially mountain-biking had a more exploratory flavour, but the skills and challenge aspect seems to have taken over and I find little to interest me in most mountain-bike magazines (= bike porn). Singletrack World is the exception - the only commercial bike magazine I subscribe to in fact. If the less competitive, more contemplative aspects of mountain-biking again come to the fore, and I think they're likely to do so as the generation who discovered cycling via the mountain-bike get older (what starts just as sex may grow into love!) maybe CTC can expect to pick up a few more members and this forum become a bit more lively.
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Postby Mick F » 23 Oct 2007, 2:50pm

Nicely written CJ. I love(?) your analogies ....

As a kid, we lads used to "off-road" our bikes. We had knobly rear tyres, took off the (steel) mudguards and fitted outrageous cow-horn handlebars. Great fun was had by all.

We didn't have multi-multi gear combos, neither did we have suspension, but we had fun none-the-less! A little of me longs to "play" again, exploring the wild side of the hills. But when I became a man, I put away childish things......
Mick F. Cornwall

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Postby glueman » 23 Oct 2007, 6:00pm

When I was young and immortal and summer afternoons lasted a fortnight I loved taking lanes with grass up the middle. Sometimes they ended in a farmyard of big dogs, others in a field or on top of a moor. Even now I reckon cyclists on narrow tyres are missing a trick.

A surprising amount of 'road' riding can be had on country tracks. If that's mountain biking - guilty as charged.

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Postby professorlandslide » 23 Oct 2007, 7:56pm

Nicely put CJ - i know that the thing i love about riding offroad (or combined on-road/off-road meandering) is being to get somewhere that i wouldn't be able to get to without my bike. I also think that the design of the mountain bike peaked in about 1993, with fully rigid steel frames & forks and narrow bars, weighing about 26lbs with thumbshifters, cantis and with no added silly springs. Fast, efficient and also FUN without adding too much technology...

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Quiet here

Postby manybikes » 24 Oct 2007, 10:08am

Well done CJ. I have always appreciated your expertise in technical matters but pleasantly surprised at your analysis here (but why should I be?). What a pity that some more(?) of the executive could not manifest such pragmatism on cycling.

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Postby Si » 24 Oct 2007, 10:36am

I'd take issue with comments on competitiveness being a big thing in MTBing. Those days seem long over for the majority of MTBers. Lately one of the largest growing aspects of MTBing has been the enduro. The majority of people who enter these do it not to race others but for the personal challenge - much like an off road version of audaxers (and many audaxers have no problems with fitting into the CTC).

I believe that it is this sort of MTBer that the CTC could appeal to. The sort that like to get out into the hills and see some vertical scenery. Sure, many of these still like the thrills of the local (sometimes purpose built) trails, but hey, many CTC riders like watching the TdF or informally racing for the cafe - doesn't mean that they should immediatly leave the CTC and join the BCF/BC/(whatever it calls itself these days).

Likewise, it was stated that many of these MTBers take a great interest in the kit that they use, but it's no different in the CTC, on the Saturday morning club pootle I was surrounded by a hoste of brand new carbon bikes with all the bells and whistles. Not to mention our other group which contained an number of pre-war machines lovingly restored.

Thus, I'd be disinclined to ignore a specific group of cyclists just because they ride different bikes and might ride in a slightly different way. Because if you start deconstructing the cycling that CTC members do then you'll find that we all take different things from our cycling: who has more in common with a touring cycling - the person that joins the CTC just to get 3rd party insurance on the bike that they only use to ride to work on, or the MTBer for whom the bike is solely an item of pleasure rather than a utilitarian object?

Unfortunatly, the CTC do seem to have missed the boat on MTBing. As I've already pointed out - a lot of the people that I know who started cycling because of MTBs have moved to using road bikes as well. They mainly do day-touring and a bit of commuting. Yet few of them see the CTC as the organisation for them. If we'd got in there earlier* we just might have gotten a reputation for being for all cyclists.

*as some within the CTC did indeed try but found it a case of swimming against the tide.

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Postby ransos » 24 Oct 2007, 2:08pm

I've been an mtber for over 15 years. I enjoy exploring new trails, admiring the countryside, short blasts, long pootles, nailing steep climbs, blasting steep downhills, trail centres, bridleways, racing, enduros, etc etc. You get the idea.

I don't think I'm alone - the beauty of the mtb is that you can enjoy all of these things. Sure, there are the specialists with their trials or downhill specific bikes, but they're in a minority.

I agree with the earlier comment about Singletrack magazine - the only one that captures the spirit of mtbing. The other mags are more for when you need to buy new kit.

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Postby eileithyia » 27 Oct 2007, 8:38am

glueman wrote:When I was young and immortal and summer afternoons lasted a fortnight I loved taking lanes with grass up the middle. Sometimes they ended in a farmyard of big dogs, others in a field or on top of a moor. Even now I reckon cyclists on narrow tyres are missing a trick.

A surprising amount of 'road' riding can be had on country tracks. If that's mountain biking - guilty as charged.


:?: :?: When I started cycling (not so long ago) my first club run was along a track as described and it was before MTB was ever invented.
Have spent many happy hours on Rough Stuff, rideable or not and have only recently acquired a MTB.
Tracks are there as a through route between places and are there to be explored. After all how many of our roads are just more frequently used tracks that got the tarmac treatment :?:

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Postby CJ » 29 Oct 2007, 2:03pm

Now then Si, don't take on so! I said "there's a whole lot of overlap when it comes to recreation" and I'm prepared to consider that Enduro events might be akin to Audax (although if there's prizes for first and second etc. that seems to make it a race). Trailquest type events, containing as they do an element of navigation, perhaps come even closer to what the CTC is about.

That said, I think it would be foolish for CTC to attempt to be all things for all cyclists. That way we'd loose focus and spread ourselves too thin. CTC's strength is that we are rooted in the practical use of that most useful of tools, the pedal cycle. That's what keeps us connected with the masses of people who are not and never will be all that keen on cycling, but might nevertheless find it useful one day, as a means of transport. Cyclists for whom the bike is purely an item of sporting equipment will find their needs are catered for by cycle racing organisations. But any who also cycle for travel and transport, have some common ground with CTC. Thus may CTC be some thing for most cyclists, and that, I submit, is the most that any one organisation can hope to be.

It is hard for CTC to connect with mountain-bikers, via the interests we undoubtedly share, because of the whole product centred-way in which mountain-biking has been marketed. Every aspect of cycling, right down to the humble puncture repair kit, was re-invented in the image of the new machine, as a "mountain-bike puncture repair kit" etc., to emphasise that this was a wholly new way of cycling, utterly different and separate from cycling as people already knew it. This had the good effect of getting a lot of new people onto bikes, but distanced them in the process from any similar kinds of cycling that were already going on.

The mountain-bike apartheid effect was further emphasised by a raft of magazines, surfing the mountain-bike marketing wave and staffed by journalists who'd discovered off-road cycling via BMX and/or mountain-bikes but knew very little and cared even less about an organisation that had been doing something like it for 100 years already! As these magazines provide the only means of communicating our message to the mountain-biking public, it's been understandably difficult for CTC to convince "mountain-bikers" that we are in fact, doing stuff for them. We just can't compete with the drip-drip of anti-CTC stereotyping (as a fuddy-duddy organisation no self-respecting mountain-biker would go anywhere near) they are simultaneously fed!
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Postby Si » 29 Oct 2007, 3:30pm

Chris, if you want to contribute then please just make your point without resorting to playground-like antics of inferring that people are getting upset and telling them not to "take on so" just because they might disagree with one thing that you have said. We are all, I hope, capable of respectful adult discussion without having to infer that other posters might be bursting a blood vessel because someone has a different view to them. Such comments just divert from the arguement and just give the impression that one is on a points scoring exercise. It invites a form of reply that just makes more work for the mods.

To return to the subject, your point re communication with the MTBing public via MTB mags is a fair one. However, because something might be difficult does not mean that it is impossible or that it would not be of value to the CTC.

My experiences are that when MTBers have come to the CTC, either as individuals or as pre-formed organisations, they have sometimes found little interest from the CTC. For instance, one club that I was involved with numbered no more than around ten people. We came to the CTC for help and offered the CTC a way of reaching out to MTBers and publicising itself. The reply that we got from the CTC was minimal, oppotunities that we offered were missed, and now that club has grown independently to what must over a hundred proper members and attracting and reaching out to literally 1000s of MTBers by its work. To add insult to injury, the CTC, once this club had sorted out its own success, put forward the view that it was taking credit for what this club had done!

It is examples such as this that lead me to suggest that the CTC has missed the boat big time. As I've already pointed out at least twice, many of the people that I know who started in MTBing are now non-competative road cyclists too: they ride for both fun and utility. These people would have been ideal members for the CTC but for the impression that they have that the CTC has little to do with them - an impression that could so easily have been avoided if the CTC had gotten into the MTB arena when the iron was still hot.

As for arguments concerning bike kit and the different approaches to it between MTBers and roadies, I just don't buy it as an imovable obstacle. For instance, on my local Section's run the other Saturday I found my self surrounded by a collection of the latest Ti and carbon fibre race/sportif bikes with all the latest trick kit on them. The average age within my Section might be over 50 but we do not live in the past as far as bikes and components are concerned. The desire for perpetual advance in kit (like it or not) has filtered from MTBing into road riding, just like the MTB riders are starting to do. Thus, I take my hat off to you for your recent review of that extremely expensive carbon race bike in CYCLE - I know that there was an amount of complaining about it being in the CTC mag, but conversly, there was also an amount of comment from road riding potential CTC members, suggesting that if such things were in CYCLE then they might consider that the CTC was more for them, but if placing such reviews in CYCLE brought a negative responce from the existing membership then perhaps the fuddy-duddy CTC wasn't for them after all. An example of this debate is to be found on the CTC section of ACF.

So, to sum (and appologise for the length of this post - off work ill, filling time):

to suggest that we can't communicate with MTBers because they are kit-sentric is also to suggest that we can't communicate with the new bread of road riders who like doing sportifs and shorter audaxes rather than racing, who like just going for a social ride with their friends and chatting about bikes and components (just like many a DA ride), and who are starting to see the practrical benefits in using a bike.

although not impossible to bring MTBers to us in a symbiotic relationship it is now going to be much harder to do it than it might have been if we got in there early. Nonetheless, this is no reason not to try and if we were successful then the benefits would be well worth it to us.

That you, Chris, and others do produce MTB articles in CYCLE is to be applauded. Could someone encourage Mike Davis to start spreading the love in the other direction? For instance, the recent RSF article in STW shows that there can be a common ground to start from.

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Postby glueman » 29 Oct 2007, 10:50pm

Mountain bikes in the US mould have tended to be somewhat uncompromising machines. First they had excessively relaxed angles, were heavy and used tyres that were too wide for most surfaces while only providing poor to middling grip anywhere.
In later years they have become technology heavy and critically reliant on servicing with absurdly devolved types (but proliferating hypes) that require expertise to get the most out of them.

There was a point where everything came together, probably, for people who like riding off road but were prepared to push when things got too hairy or technical ( see how down wiv da kidz I am? ).
The RSF appear to have the right approach - wrung what ya brung, tourers with guards to full suss exotica, relying on good manners to wait for those compromised by their mode of transport.

I like MTBs but they have always been surrounded by more bull than you're average CTCer can tolerate, or maybe we resent conspicuous displays of enthusiasm? The fashion life of a mayfly can't have helped, pushed by the magazines, which rendered perfectly usable off-road bikes old fashioned - before they're re-presented under a new guise as the hottest thing around. They did give us better derailleurs and erm...?

Only slightly off topic, my tip for the next big thing. Here's hoping - and you can ride what you like!

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Postby Si » 30 Oct 2007, 9:29am

Only slightly off topic, my tip for the next big thing. Here's hoping - and you can ride what you like!


wouyld indeed be exciting if it did catch on, and not that far removed from 'street' riding, one of the growing branches of MTBing...perhaps another possibility for shared ground?