We cyclists tend to have our tried and tested preferred discipline. Whether you're a roadie, MTBer, or commuter, there's a style you default to on two wheels.
Except for having two wheels, varying cycling disciplines couldn't be more different. From the bikes, to the kit, to the demographic and to the skills required.
Each cycling type has its benefits for the body, and many of the skills required for one are transferable to another. Professional athletes often mix up their training schedules with other disciplines to work different muscle groups and fitness levels. For example, professional downhill racer, Tahnée Seagrave is often seen riding her road bike to improve her stamina and cardio which she can put to go use on the trails, and former Downhill World Champ has been seen competing in cyclocross to keep her fitness sharp.
If it works for the pros, no doubt a little dabbling could be good for the rest of us. So what else is out there for you to try and hone your skills on?
Developed to bridge the gap between Motocross and Bicycles, BMX is a stunts and ramps coordinated style of riding. Short bursts of energy propel you from one side of a skate park to another, whilst tackling obstacles along the way.
BMX has a lot of advantages - it's extremely fun, and can be ridden both indoor and outdoor. It's an all year round sport which doesn't require all the kit you would usually take on the trails if you're a mountain biker at heart.
Short bursts of powerful energy and perfecting those jumps and tricks are brilliant to transfer into other off-road areas. Bike handling with confidence will really help you navigate your way over technical and rooty sections of a track. Not to mention the great energy saving benefits of learning to pump effectively to save on pedalling power. For roadies, those short efforts will work wonders on your sprinting abilities.
BMX bikes are fairly cheap in the grand scheme of bikes, with entry levels starting from £100. With the growing popularity of cycling, more and more skate-parks and indoor facilities are opening up around the country - so why not give it a go?!
Dating back to the late 1800's, the tandem bike was developed to be ridden by more than one person at a time. Commonly regarded as a novelty cycle, which you would often see around tourist and holiday destinations, tandems are actually rather popular in the race scene.
Road, off-road and fatbike tandems have began to creep onto the scene in force. And why not? They are fun and they put a whole new spin on "team work". Tandem riding is harder than it looks because you're riding for the both of you which requires a lot of trust, and a lot of effort to synchronise fitness abilities - and cadence!
It's great fun to try out, with a lot of parks, bike stores and tourist facilities hiring them out.
Essentially a road racing bike, but with mountain tyres. Cyclocross is a messy, but extremely fun sport to get into.
CX racing asks for a lot of power from the rider, to pedal through difficult and challenging terrain, but it also requires some technical skill as well. Usually consisting of short laps, this sixty minute racing style will have you working every muscle and using all your cycling knowhow.
Professional athletes such as downhill rider, Manon Carpenter train in the off-season with cyclocross. Seeing as it's a transition discipline between road and mountain, many athletes and hobbyists enjoy the elements from each major discipline.
Track riding is becoming more and more popular, we can certainly see it near our London base with Herne Hill's women's sessions getting busier and busier.
Track cycling requires constant pedalling, in a fixed gear. If you do it right, this teaches you to use your cadence efficiently. Speeds can be high, and there's no brakes, so you'll pick up some great bunch handling skills too!
Covering miles and building fitness on a track bike is a fantastic way to transfer skills into your primary discipline. When it comes to racing, there are many different styles of events - from endurance TT's, to bunch racing and of course sprinting for the ultimate demonstration of short term power.
All mountain riding has everything to really give you a good workout, and a good adrenaline rush.
Mountain bikes are considerably heavier than road bikes, and with soft supple suspension, it makes climbing a bitter sweet affair. All aspects from the climbing, descending, and everything in between has our body working up a sweat.
Having conquered the climb, the descents are what really make up for it. Fast and flowy, or loose and technical, there is a trail suitable for you.
Learning to mountain bike has its advantages for other disciplines, tackling rough terrain and learning to shift your body weigh on the bike helps keep you light and your bike grounded.
The most popular of the cycling disciplines has to be road cycling.
Lightweight bikes and endless miles of tarmac to cover. Difficulty lies within the energy management, pace and endurance... and traffic!
Cardio, muscle conditioning and general bike confidence are all key skills that can be honed with road cycling. These refined techniques may not seem so obvious at first, but hopping back onto the MTB after a while will seem easier and your fitness levels improved.
Rather than having to load up the car, drive to the trails and have an off-road session, road cycling can begin right from your front door. It's easily accessible, and it's great fun too.
It's great to get out there and try new things, especially other cycling disciplines. You may even surprise yourself with the skills you learn and how much better your performance will be on your regular rides.
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