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I've had a Pliny
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey racing fans,

A friendly discussion over on the NorCal MTBR forum landed me here. I have my opinion but want to make this more of an impartial poll:

Is road riding beneficial for riding/racing mountain bikes and why?
 

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If you already have the skills needed on the MTB then for sure some quality road miles will help build endurance and power in your legs. Think about it, on the road bike your just constantly pedaling. Whereas on the MTB it's all on and off. So if your legs are letting you down on the trails, then some quality road training will help strengthen them. On the other hand, if you DON'T have the skills on the MTB then your time might be better spent on the trails for skill work.
 

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Road riding is definitely beneficial for MTB racing. Strict training regimens lend themselves to road riding as compared to MTB riding where the trail and trail conditions limit you to what you can and can't do. Better on road:

- Interval training
- Tempo training
- Cadence work
- Target power zones (if you are riding with a power meter)
- Target heart rate zones

Still need to put your time in on the trails for skills (plus it is much more fun) but road miles will go a long way towards achieving racing goals.
 

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achiever
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Don't forget about those of us in areas of the country where we are still weeks away from being able to get onto the trails due to sloppy conditions. Without road riding, it'd be continued trainer hell for those weeks. So it's not only physically beneficial but psychologically, as well.
 

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You can also follow a strict training regime on your MTB when you ride on fire roads, flat flow trails, ....

It's not necessary to ride between those stinking, crazy cars.
 

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road riding is awesome for mtb riding. you make huge deposits in the pain bank and withdraw on race day

the only things road riding does not give you is:

a) target fixation training. you need to know how to not target fixate on an mtb so you can ride fast and close to rocks and trees while somewhat out of control but not actually hit them...the best training for this is actually motorized dirt biking, get used to seeing trees and crap fly past you way faster than you can pedal...then when pedaling, nothing will ever surprise you....your visual cortex and reflexes will be much sharper and things will seem like slow motion. (bonus upper body workout wrestling a dirt bike)

b) look ahead. a must for high-speed cornering. on an mtb you must trust that while looking far ahead, your brain will automatically remember what is coming under your wheel, and that you can really look ahead on an mtb and not worry because you will still navigate fine...if you train for it

c) upper body strength and the pounding your arse takes. only mtb riding can really deliver the training needed to take the beating and absorb it with minimal fatigue. working weights in a gym is pretty close, but still need real roots and rocks for full effect. so many mtb death-marches I have done in the past where pure roadies with 100 more FTP watts are simply wrecked after 35 miles and I can nuke them on the road ride home...standing high cadence on a road bike for minutes at a time can train your legs to lift your body weight off the saddle under load and this helps a ton on the trails to smooth things out and stay motoring. plain old truth the faster you go on an MTB the smoother it gets, but with standing-up high-cadence road training, even better


otherwise, road riding is insanely awesome because you can put long hard efforts in with no breaks, whereas with an MTB is it sometimes hard to do a solid 20 minutes or more at constant max load...because you often need to break cadence or stop pedaling and whatnot to navigate terrain. road riding can be pure 100% uninterrupted suffer which is good to do once a week at least

tl-dr: if all you ever did was ride road and wrestle bears then you'd be fine on an mtb

stldr; see what stonerider posted
 

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For fitness, spinning pedals is spinning pedals. But you inherently do a lot more pedal spins per unit time on flatter, less technnical surfaces (pavement or flat jeep road).

On smooth flat surfaces you can also easily adjust pedal torque and rpm to do numerous different workouts, where on the trail, the terrain tends to dictate everything. Smooth flat surfaces are better for recovery rides as well. You can also better perform workouts to target specific weaknesses. Holding a power target on the trail is pretty difficult, but it depends how anal you want to get about it.

100% road riding or 100% MTB I don't like. About 70/30 split (with lots of road bike commuting) is about perfect for my personal happiness, and hence my performance. As race season approaches then it's a good idea to get more specific towards your event type.

Right now my MTB has been in the shop getting fixed (blown fork) and I'm 100% road riding. It's driving me nuts. There's been some cold windy days (~40F) that would of been much better for an MTB ride, rather than freezing out on the road. If I had my MTB to mix up my rides, I would definitely be getting more total riding hours per week.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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Nearly all top mtb pros do a ton of road riding for a reason, so yes, it is very beneficial for the many reasons already listed.

Having said this, if you neglect your mtb riding/training, you will pay dearly on race day. Your body will not be ready for the jarring it takes on the trail. Both your upper body and legs will not be fully prepared and will fatigue at rates much faster than those of equal fitness who balanced the two appropriately.

The amount of abuse the trail can dish out is simply just not found on the road.

I speak from experience..haha.

.02
 

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Road biking is significantly beneficial.

It's easy to log miles and time on the bike with a roadie, and allows for specific & controlled workout sessions (see CUSCO above).

Low intensity days are more accessible and attainable (see PONCH).
 

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I've had a Pliny
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow, this is awesome. I post a question and go to bed. Wake up next morning and all the perfect answers are right here.

Mind if I cut and paste all this into a book?

Target Fixation Training - never knew there was a phrase for it. I help a junior mtb team here and all I tell them is "Look ahead!". Now I can talk to them about TFT.

Conversely, mtb has helped my road riding a few times: I've gone off the shoulder into gravel, grass and ditches more that I like to admit. Always managed to get back onto pavement and I owe it all to skills learned on mtb.
 

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I have gotten much more benefit from strength and mobility training than I ever did from road biking. I'm not saying road miles won't help, but I think it depends on where your weaknesses lie. Check out this site for some great coaching.

http://www.bikejames.com/
 

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Conversely, mtb has helped my road riding a few times: I've gone off the shoulder into gravel, grass and ditches more that I like to admit. Always managed to get back onto pavement and I owe it all to skills learned on mtb.
the instant no-notice perfect bunny hop is mandatory kung-fu for roadies.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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the instant no-notice perfect bunny hop is mandatory kung-fu for roadies.
Correct sir. I bunny hopped a spare truck tire during my dark ride to work that entered my sight last second. Had I not been a mtb'er, I don't think it would have gone so well. Scared the heck out of me...but I made it over with little contact.

The guys who bunny hop the barriers on their cross bikes are pretty impressive too.
 

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I've had a Pliny
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The guys who bunny hop the barriers on their cross bikes are pretty impressive too.
Totally, there's been a few XC races where others are bunny-hopping and I couldn't imagine getting over them - way too waxed to exert that kind of effort.
 

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I haven't really read through what everyone else has said, but here's my .02…

In my experience I've found that fitness from the road bike transfers, but only to a certain degree. I do not build the strength in my legs from the road bike that I get from riding the mountain bike. Sure, my heart and lungs are more than adequate from training on the road bike, but my legs leave something to be desired.

All in all, if I had to sum it up in a few words, I'd say that mountain bike riding benefits my road riding more than road riding benefits my mountain biking. As I'm a focused mtb racer, I'll stick to keeping about 90% of my training time to being on the mountain bike.

This just works for me. If you get stronger and faster riding more road miles, knock yourself out. Pretty sure riding big road miles works for a dude named Jeremiah Bishop. Dude is pretty fast on the mountain bike if you ask me! :)
 

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I found road cycling helped my mountain biking tremendously, but mountain biking does almost nothing to help road cycling. IME at least.
 

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I have gotten much more benefit from strength and mobility training than I ever did from road biking. I'm not saying road miles won't help, but I think it depends on where your weaknesses lie. Check out this site for some great coaching.

http://www.bikejames.com/
Did you begin with some pretty significant deficiencies in strength/mobility, or a huge aerobic engine?

There's certainly a threshold level of strength/mobility/flexibility required to ride well and avoid injury, but it's reached pretty quickly with good training and easily maintained, and any extra isn't really beneficial.

On the other hand, good luck finding someone with "enough" aerobic fitness - more is always better.
 

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I don't think I had any great deficiencies in strength or mobility, but both have come a long way; strength being more noticeable. It is so much easier for me to turn the crank, and move around on the bike now that I am stronger. I push bigger gears than I used to, and do most of my climbing out of the saddle. Riding feels completely different to me. Compare that to a few years ago when I did a couple of road centuries. I put in some serious miles on my road bike and afterward I expected to be much faster on my mountain bike. But I wasn't. If anything, I was slower.

I'm not saying there is one right answer, but that is my experience.
 

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I've had a Pliny
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Compare that to a few years ago when I did a couple of road centuries. I put in some serious miles on my road bike and afterward I expected to be much faster on my mountain bike. But I wasn't. If anything, I was slower.
That makes complete sense - I've been there also. Training for centuries is typically LSD (Long Slow Distance) in a Moderate heart rate mode (maybe a little Tempo thrown in). After some hundreds of miles of that typed of training, you'll be in perfect shape for LSD - but not XC race. For that I've found I need to train a in Threshold with a little Anaerobic thrown in.
 
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