I'm enjoying my hybrid bike much more than I thought I would when I bought it last August. It was intended to be a winter bike but it's now a summer bike as well. I can appreciate the roadie's satisfaction in riding skinny tyres on a good surface – the efficiency and speed of a fast machine – but the purist approach means staying on-road and that can be limiting.
The photo was taken a few days ago on Healey Nab near Chorley in Lancashire. For mountain bikers Healey Nab contains a red route (difficult) and a black route (severe). I've never actually seen these routes as I don't go mountain biking. The track I cycle along passes by on the other side of the hill and avoids a stretch of urban road through the top side of Chorley, which is why I often go this way as part of my local loops.
This track, like several others in the area, has a gravelly surface that can easily be ridden with 32c tyres, although I've fitted 40c to my Giant hybrid. If I was limited to only one bicycle and was forced to choose between the hybrid and my Ridgeback tourer it would be this one – the Giant. Fully-inflated 32c cyclo-cross tyres perform well enough on tarmac and even the 40c are really not too bad. The suspension fork (fitted extra) is fairly light and has a useful lockout switch on the handlebars.
The hybrid bike is an excellent all-round package and having the off-road option opens up a different world, not to go mountain biking through mud and rocks but to enjoy gorgeous countryside that would otherwise be inaccessible and is empty of traffic except for the occasional horse. Some research (and trial and error) is involved in finding quiet tracks that aren't too bumpy or with too many stiles but I already know most of the ones on my patch from the 25 years before I bought a road bike in 2008.