When I first got into biking I had an “I’m too cool…” attitude about a lot of things that “hard-core” cyclists did.
I’m too cool to wear a helmet.
I’m too cool to clean my bike… or lube my chain… or check my tire pressure.
I’m too cool to wear lycra… or tight jerseys… or cycling gloves.
“I just ride man. Eff it!”
“I pwn that recreational multi-use bike path”
Things sure have changed.
It’s amazing how the collective wisdom of the group has allowed the sport to evolve in very smart ways. Some of these actions & innovations that seemed “hard-core” when I was beginner, have become a natural part of what I do now that I identify myself as a cyclist. I know that to others I have become that “hard-core” guy.
But, don’t you think for one second that it was a quick and easy journey for me. I went kicking and screaming the whole way. Luckily, I didn’t learn to wear my helmet the hard way. Like most other cyclists, I was just guilted into that.
I was able to use my long, post-breakdown walks back to the car to think about how cleaning my bike and checking my tire pressure would probably benefit me greatly. Lesson learned.
And the lycra… that’s just for the sex appeal. There are so many ladies on the mountain bike trail to impress. Umm… yeah right. They shouldn’t call it singletrack, from here on out it will be referred to as “sausagetrack”.
Wearing gloves was a lesson I learned through injury.
I was resistant to wearing gloves at first – partially because I’m a little frugal and I don’t like to buy unnecessary equipment & clothing. Gloves seemed like a luxury. In my mind at the time, it seemed like they were there just to provide a little extra padding. The other sissies on the trail might need that, but not me.
One hot and humid day, I was time trialing the loop at my local trail. There was sweat dripping across my entire body, including my hands. I was screaming down a short, rooted descent with an off-camber turn and a log at the bottom.
My sweaty meathooks tried to embrace the grip to prepare for the technical maneuver. Failure. My greasy mitts slipped off the end of the bars. When I hit the log at the bottom, my body in motion tended to stay in motion. I flew off the sausagetrack into the woods. When I brushed off the leaves and poison ivy vines I revealed thorns, scratches, abrasions and bruises all down the left side of my body and on the palm of my hand where I tried to catch myself.
Oh. So that’s why I should wear gloves. I get it now.
Now I always wear gloves on the trail. Nothing fancy. I usually just grab the mid-priced glove from Pearl Izumi or S-Works because I have had a lot of luck with those brands. But I’m not too picky. A nice pair from Enduro sounds appealing to me as well. Do you have a pair of gloves that you love? What brand? Is there a pair that’s really durable? I’m a big fan of having reasonably-priced, durable gear.
The story of how I found my grips is not really as gripping. 🙂 I just wanted to tell it because I love the grips I have on my bike and I think there are some really solid reasons to consider them.
Once again, when I first started riding I would never have considered replacing the grips on my bike. The stock grips were working just fine and I was “too cool” to worry about it. …but then the racing started. The frequency and duration of my rides was increasing. I was riding faster and faster to get in shape.
The regular trail had a ton of roots, which meant that my handlebars were constantly trying to wiggle away from me (Check out this video I made about my local trail at Alum Creek State Park P1). My hands were squeezing down on the round, stock grips as hard as I could so that the bike wouldn’t slip away from me. This newbie hold was definitely not the relaxed grip of a person who “flows” on the sausagetrack.
My hands were aching and numb from my death grip. My forearms were constantly tired. However, I stubbornly treated it as a side effect of hard riding and being tough. Until…
I wasn’t really looked for a solution but I stumbled on one during a visit to my local bike shop. I was casually walking through roll:, my local bike shop, when the glow of the Ergon grips drew my eyes towards them like the song of a siren. They were not round with lots of rubber bumps for my palms to cling to. They were sculpted in a way that seemed much more natural for my hand.
My fingers are no longer extending to wrap around a cylinder, they are resting comfortable on a flatter surface that holds them in a more ergonomic position. I haven’t had any discomfort in my hands and forearms since I switched. I do have some pretty nice callouses on my palms though.
My love affair has gone so far that when I bought my new bike the grips were the first thing I replaced. I can’t imagine riding without them.
But what I am wondering is what works best for you. Have you had issues with your grips? Have you tried the Ergon grips? What do you recommend?
I currently have a pair of Ergon GX-1 race grips. I looked at Ergon’s website and it looks like they have discontinued those. Based on the models that they have for sale I would probably buy the Ergon GS1 race grip, but I think the Ergon GP1 would also work well if you were trying to save money.
What is my point? I guess I’m saying that you don’t have to be as stupid and stubborn as me. If you go to your trail and 90% of the riders are wearing gloves & helmets, then maybe there is a good reason for it. In my case the gloves were just a metaphor for years of hard-headedness. There are so many places in my cycling where I could have saved myself from discomfort – or injuries – or breakdowns with a little research and some pocket change.
What is it that you have been resisting? Is there something you can do about it? Is there an easy solution within sight?
If you have an issue that you’ve been dealing with on the bike. Ask me about it in the comment section. Who knows, maybe I can use it as inspiration for a future article here on the site. Don’t forget to subscribe to Quickdirt.com in the right column to read about the millions of other ways I have screwed up.
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