In 1980, my parents bought me a BMX bike. I rode BMX street-style, before that was a thing. I rode single-track in the Alabama woods. I rode off plywood jumps and on small dirt tracks we shoveled together, too. I was 100% BMX then.
In 1986, I started riding my brother’s road bike. I wasn’t doing road rides. I was just getting around. Call me a commuter, cycling 100% for transportation.
In 1980, I got an entry-level Trek mountain bike, put slick tires on it and rode urban assault and commuter style through my college years. It was then, ripping around the streets of Boston that I fell back in love with cycling, doing it as more than transportation, exploring the city’s every back street and cut through, circling the Common in the middle of the night. I was something like 100% commuter, adventure dirtbag.
In 1995, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper and went back to the woods. Riding around the city had honed my bikehandling skills and I had just enough BMX left in my heart to fall madly in love with mountain biking. Soon I was on the trail 4-5 days a week, sometimes for an hour or two before work, sometimes for all of a weekend. I was 100% trail.
In 1997, I got my first real road bike, stainless steel, Ultegra, a real whip. One of my mountain biking friends was a former crit racer, and she convinced me I’d enjoy trail riding more if I had road fitness. I don’t know that that ever proved true, but I do know that I immersed myself in roadie culture and learned how to ride in a paceline, how to climb properly, how to eat and drink on the bike. Suddenly I was 60% roadie, 40% trail.
In 2012, I got a gravel bike, after months of just riding my road bike in the woods. Local trails that had gone stale on the mountain bike suddenly came alive with drop bars and skinnier tires. Something of the BMX bandit in me woke up again, too, as my friends and I strung trail systems together, dirt-to-pavement-to-dirt. It’s all I wanted to do. The balance shifted again. Something like 20% road, 70% gravel, 10% mountain bike.
Since 2012, I’ve ridden a lot of dirt roads. My gravel bike became my commuter, and I began seeking woods-ways to work. I took on long dirt road events like D2R2 and Rasputitsa. Categories blurred and mixed. Sometimes I’d go through a spell of intensive mountain biking. Then I’d go all road for a while.
This year, I really mean to be on my mountain bike as much as possible, but who knows what will happen.
This week’s Group Ride asks how your percentages break down. Are you all roadie, smooth-legged and watt-obsessed? Are you a gravel hound, sand embedded deep in your cassette and the sound of disc brake honk echoing in your ears? Or, do you mostly like the fat tires, baggy shorts and parking lot beers that go along with trail riding?