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Glove is the answer

| Blog, Mountain Biking Uk | 15/01/2013 09:30am

Guest blog: Neil Cain can’t see the sense in going gloveless

A new craze seemed to sweep mountain biking a few years back, led by Kiwi super-ripper Sam Blenkinsop – gloveless riding.

In and out of glove: protecting your hands is important

Gloveless riders claimed all sorts of benefits: it helped them to ‘feel’ the bike better; it was less restrictive; women clambered over one another to be near those manly naked hands, like a Lynx advert. All amazing stuff. Suddenly young (and not so young) rippers started going sans gloves, keen to exploit all that extra feeling.

There’s nothing new about phases sweeping mountain biking, but to me this one smacks of stupidity. My reasoning? OK, here it is…

Cold hands aside, we live in the UK where – especially during the winter – it rains quite a lot, which tends to be pretty wet. Like most riders, on warmer days I also sweat which, generally, is pretty wet too. You sweat from glands all over your body, including those on the palm of your hands. So, assuming wet stuff generally acts as a lubricant, what is the effect of a sweaty palm on a wet handlebar grip?

Not only that, but what’s the first thing to hit the ground in a tumble? I know people claim to be able to foresee crashes, to have Jedi reflexes with the ability to ‘tuck and roll’, but realistically? I bet that it’s the sweaty, unprotected palm that stretches for the ground as soon as it slides off that slippery grip.

I sometimes wonder, what if Gee started winning races while riding naked and painted blue? Would we see half the amateur downhill circuit covered in Dulux’s finest? This is how I see riding without gloves. A very quick rider does something so obviously it’s the reason behind his or her success (and of course not the hours he or she has spent doing a masochistic training programme or dialling tricky lines in the pouring rain).

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the only path to being a truly great rider is a huge amount of hard work. Not only that, but while getting to being truly great, you will crash. Consequently I suggest this – wear gloves. Time spent picking grit out of your palms is time that could also be spent on the bike.

On the flipside, if you think I’m talking complete rubbish, please continue riding gloveless. The more people at home nursing their palms, the emptier the trails for the rest of us!

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