Why I cycle - Mark Blaisse
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Why I cycle

You can cycle or you can use a mountain bike. These are two different worlds. Cycling on a road or cycling on a path with rocks, holes, roots, prickly bushes and twigs hitting your face. When you just cycle, chances are that you come home in the same state you left it. But after a tour on a mountainous track you are guaranteed to have bruises, cuts and at least one sore wrist. I have just spent some time on French tracks between Tignes, Les Arcs and Bourg St. Maurice and I know what I am talking about. Going up is tough enough, with hardly any oxygen on an altitude of 2700 meters. But going down, boy, that’s the real adventure. Or should I say the nearest to suicide? Following our guide Frank is impossible. Even if he goes slow, you feel like an amateur. While he slaloms and jumps, twists his bike and throws himself into the 15% downhill, you are breaking and breaking while trying to avoid the biggest rocks and the treacherous gravel. Oh that gravel: don’t even look at the breaks when you are on that stuff or it will throw you off your € 6000.- Scott machine without mercy. Afterwords you can pick the tiny stones out of your bleeding arms and legs for quite a while. Blood is as normal on a mountain bike as sweat (and, in my case, tears). I breaked so much that the rear rubbers melted. For an hour or so there was no way I could use my rear brake and I had to rely on the front one. Try that on an Alpine downhill slope…Of course I wear a helmet, looking more like an egghead than a sportsman, but you are crazy if you don’t. No helmet, no glory. If you don’t have mud stains all over your back, dead flies on your Oakley glasses and blisters on your hands, you cannot be taken seriously. Mountain biking (or VTT in French) is for men and women with thicker arms than legs. It is so demanding that you only think about the dangers in hindsight. If you fall you break bones, from the collar to the ribs and shoulder blades. Last month, a friend of mine ran into the back of a van after he had managed the woods and rocks. His body was printed into the white door, his helmet shattered, his bones, well, mashed potatoes. That’s why I will stick to cycling. Flat and smooth cycling. Come on, I am Dutch, so lucky to live in the Low Lands.

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