Mountain biking and road cycling are two sides of the same coin; if the coin is simply life on two wheels. Beyond that there are a number of differences, but there seems to be a growing sense of riders crossing codes. We spoke to Mt Eden Cycles’ Mark Taylor about it.
Whether it’s mountain biking weekends away with mates or taking on his latest trip around Lake Taupo, Mark Taylor is a lover of both sides of the coin. “I guess I just love biking – any biking. It’s such a great way to live a life really,” Mark told RoadCycling.
We took the risk of asking Mark what is it that mountain biking can do that road cycling can’t. I guess we opened ourselves up to the response! “Mountain biking is simply more fun – I guess it’s that adrenalin thing,” Mark said. “There are times when I’m mountain biking and I’m having so much fun I laugh out loud. That doesn’t happen on a Roadie. When you are riding hard down a flowing trail behind a mate and you’re in the groove – well that’s about as good as life gets for me!”
However, part in an effort to redeem ourselves from the protestations that mountain biking out-does road cycling for the pure fun factor, we did need to ask where life on the tarmac has the upper hand. “What I love about road riding is the challenge and the mateship. It sounds a bit dorky but it’s really satisfying to be able to ride a long way – I guess it makes me feel really good about myself,” Mark explained. “It’s kinda weird because there are times on a roadie when you think “why oh why – this is way too hard” BUT those times are simply forgotten quickly after, as mostly riding a roadie is just a massive feel good experience for me. The fact most rides end with a bit of time with mates certainly helps heaps also. Road riding takes me on all sorts of trips with mates that I am always either organising myself or getting talked into.”
I think that answer qualifies it as a dead heat at least!
At Mt Eden Cycles in Auckland you could be forgiven for thinking ‘Auckland . . . roads . . . traffic . . . congestion’ and precious little opportunity in the way of mountain biking. But Mark has seen something else through his store. “Many adults have been a bit reluctant to take on real mountain biking but feel really good about getting into trail riding and then that often develops into mountain biking,” Mark told us. “The NZ trail network has certainly been a bike shop owners dream – It’s just another great reason to get into cycling without having to worry about technical mountain biking conditions or road traffic. Some of the trails take you to some amazing NZ destinations and it also seems super popular for couples and wider families.”
But most interestingly when it comes to mountain biking and road cycling is that there is not a mass-influx but mass-exodus towards or away from one code or another; but there is more like a fusion between the two. “There are more people crossing over than ever before – both ways actually. I think the NZ trail network thing has been the biggest influence here,” Mark said.