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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have spent the last 48 hrs. trying to recover from both of my races. I did the CAT 5, Age 40+ Plus road race. This was only my third road race and it was fun for me to do the race and not be nearly as nervous as I get doing the mountain bike races. My strategy for this race was very simple: stay out of the wind and make sure that I was right up front when we hit the final climb home. After we did our last lap, the pace started to pick and I moved up with the leaders of the race. I noticed that we were about to end our last lap and head up the final climb and I moved right into second place. As the climb started I noticed that there was hardly anybody around me except for 2 - 3 other guys and the pace started to pick up and up to feverish race pace! At this point I was really starting to worry that I couldn't hold my pace and was expecting a swarm of riders to come around me and pass me at any minute. The further we went up the climb the harder my breathing became, the more my legs started to ache, and I thought for sure I was going to get dropped and not get in the top ten, which is what we needed to get on the podium. A couple of more riders went by and I realized that I was in about 4th or 5th place and then I saw the sign "200 meters to go" and could see the finish line. The last part of this climb Really steep. At this point, my breathing was through the roof, I was starting to see stars, but I knew it was now or never and I did not want to have any regrets that I didn't go hard enough on the climb to get on the podium and I knew that I was in a position to do so. I decided to go to a harder gear and stand up and go as hard as I could and do something that resembles a sprint to the finish line. ;) I crossed the line, my teamate Terry was there and told me I did a good job and I was pretty sure that I was in 7th or 8th place and I just fell to the ground exhausted and knew that I left absolutely nothing on the race course; it was the hardest I had ever gone in any bike race I have ever done in four years. It turns out I got 7th place and got on the podium and was real excited about that.

For the mountain bike race on Sunday, I knew I had virtually no chance of getting on the podium because the field was so packed with riders that were much faster & Experienced racing with me in the Expert 45 - 49 Class. My main goal was to finish the race strong and hopefully place somewhere in the middle. In the Expert Class we get to do two laps of the Sea Otter race course, which is approximately 40 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing! I decided not to go out real hard at the beginning and to go at a nice, steady, strong pace for the entire race. To make a long story short, this worked fantastic for me. In comparison to last year where I went out hard and everyone was passing me, this time I went out easy and spent the entire 40 miles picking off other riders throughout the course. I ended up with a time of 3 hrs. 6 mins., which was 15 mins behind the winner in my class. In comparison to last year where I was 35 mins behind the winner in my class. My placing was 11th out of 30 riders, almost in the top third and better then I expected.
Podium pic from the road race, me on the left
 

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Truly awesome performance Merlin!! That road race was something else with that uphill finish.

11th out of 30 in the expert mtb is also incredible. This field is really strong and your performance seems way better than last year. I think you came into it with the perfect attitude and strategy. Just come in to it relaxed and let your body, not your mind do the work.

Those two results in mixed disciplines are spectacular!!! So what did you observe are the differences between mtb and road racing?

fc
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks a lot Francis! It was good to see you there, I forgot to hit you up for a new pair of MTBR socks :mad:
The differance between road and mtb racing??? I've done about 35 MTB races and only 3 road races and road racing is 10x more scary! Going faster and all the bumping in the pack, much higher risk of getting really hurt. It crack me up that my roadie friends won't do a MTB race because they are afraid of getting hurt on the dirt! I guess it just comes down to what you more comfortable with.
Another big differance is that in a road race the strongest riders do not always win, due to all the pack tactics, drafting etc. In an MTB race the strongest rider almost always wins assuming there are no mechanical issues. The MTB race is one long time trial. The road race your trying to expend as little energy as possible so your ready for the critical moment when the race is won or lost. Either a sprint, a breakaway, or a long climb to the finish like Sea Otter. If thats not enough, there are all the tactics etc that are going on. So you've gotta be looking at whats going on and thinking about what your doing, which is why I never have done well before! I'm just used to go all out like in a MTB race.
 

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It always amazes me how much more fit

roadies are than MTBRs.

That's why I got a road bike, I'm still slow on the MTB bike but not as nearly as slow as I was pre-road bike.

Amazing how CAT 5, which is the lowest catagory is filled with freaking fast humans.
 

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Bike Nazi said:
roadies are than MTBRs.

That's why I got a road bike, I'm still slow on the MTB bike but not as nearly as slow as I was pre-road bike.

Amazing how CAT 5, which is the lowest catagory is filled with freaking fast humans.
Depending on the terrain you have to ride you can get just as fit on either bike. One will not get you more fit than the other. How do you come to this conclusion?

One reason why Cat 5 is fast is because in road racing you have to start at the bottom when you decide to race. The last cat 5 race I did (at sea otter a few years ago) was filled with 5 or 6 top experts and 2 semi pro mtbers. Cat 5 has the whole spectrum of fitness levels from semi-pro to joe fred who has been riding for 7 months.

Usually guys who ride the road are more serious about training but its not the pavement that gets them fit. Dirt will do it to you too. Sometimes local trails arent good training though and the road will do you more good.
 

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merlin said:
In an MTB race the strongest rider almost always wins assuming there are no mechanical issues. The MTB race is one long time trial. The road race your trying to expend as little energy as possible so your ready for the critical moment when the race is won or lost. Either a sprint, a breakaway, or a long climb to the finish like Sea Otter. If thats not enough, there are all the tactics etc that are going on. So you've gotta be looking at whats going on and thinking about what your doing, which is why I never have done well before! I'm just used to go all out like in a MTB race.
That's a really interesting statement..."The MTB race is one long time trial". That seems so true. You just go hard from the start and go as hard as your body can take til the finish.

On my road race, there were key moments where you had to answer the call of the pack and not get dropped on the wall. However, every lap, my group would sit up on the back sideof the course and we would just drink and chit-chat for a good 2-3 minutes each time. I mean literally, we were chatting about mtbr, carbon wheels... without breathing hard. In the last lap though and uphill finish, it was all quiet and all painful!

francois
 

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francois said:
That's a really interesting statement..."The MTB race is one long time trial". That seems so true. You just go hard from the start and go as hard as your body can take til the finish.

On my road race, there were key moments where you had to answer the call of the pack and not get dropped on the wall. However, every lap, my group would sit up on the back sideof the course and we would just drink and chit-chat for a good 2-3 minutes each time. I mean literally, we were chatting about mtbr, carbon wheels... without breathing hard. In the last lap though and uphill finish, it was all quiet and all painful!

francois
Yep, in a road race there are certain times where its stay with the group or be done. Very painful at times. MTB racing is much more steady. Except for Sea Otter in the afternoon when the wind picks up, youve got to make sure you get a wheel for certain parts of the course.
 

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Fillet-brazed said:
Depending on the terrain you have to ride you can get just as fit on either bike. One will not get you more fit than the other. How do you come to this conclusion?
Road biking will get you more fit than mountain biking. That's why every pro XC mtb racer trains on the road bike. At the expert and semi-pro level, they mostly train on the road bike too.

The reasons are this:
1) Time efficiency - most road rides start from the doorstep, most mtb rides don't. If you only have 2 hours to get out each training day, this is the difference between getting a 2 hour ride and a 1 hour ride.

2) You are pedaling much more often on the road bike. Heck, you pedal hard on level ground or downhill. Also, on mtb you can spend half an hour clearing a technical climb or a some downhill stunts. Any time you are working on technique and skills, fitness training is not maximized.

3) Mtb riding can beat you up. If you ride 600 miles a month on mtb, you might be descending 200 miles rough terrain. That's the kind of stuff that is super-fun but your body can get beat without training those legs.

Sooo, these are generalizations. But they are generally true. Doesn't mean road riding is better. It is a good training tool for the XC racer. A lurking danger though is a person gets hooked into road and gives up mtb.

francois
 

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francois said:
Road biking will get you more fit than mountain biking. That's why every pro XC mtb racer trains on the road bike. At the expert and semi-pro level, they mostly train on the road bike too.

The reasons are this:
1) Time efficiency - most road rides start from the doorstep, most mtb rides don't. If you only have 2 hours to get out each training day, this is the difference between getting a 2 hour ride and a 1 hour ride.

2) You are pedaling much more often on the road bike. Heck, you pedal hard on level ground or downhill. Also, on mtb you can spend half an hour clearing a technical climb or a some downhill stunts. Any time you are working on technique and skills, fitness training is not maximized.

3) Mtb riding can beat you up. If you ride 600 miles a month on mtb, you might be descending 200 miles rough terrain. That's the kind of stuff that is super-fun but your body can get beat without training those legs.

Sooo, these are generalizations. But they are generally true. Doesn't mean road riding is better. It is a good training tool for the XC racer. A lurking danger though is a person gets hooked into road and gives up mtb.

francois
1) Thats a factor if you live far from trails. Why couldnt you ride your MTB out the front door? If you have a 1 hour drive and a 2 hour window, ya, youre gonna get more fit riding two hours over 1.

2) Why cant you pedal hard in the dirt going downhill? My heart rate is often times higher on the downhill than on the climbs. Again, this comes down to your local trails. Some arent very facilitating to good efficient training time. Also, I believe that our bodies adapt to whatever it is we do. If we ride on the dirt, we build muscles that help on the dirt. If we ride on the road, we might get better at climbing while standing and not worrying about rear traction. I think its specificity. Take something like the Downieville XC. You really need to be able to hammer for an hour long climb sitting on the nose of your saddle. Are you gonna get that riding on the road? On the road you could never simulate that.

3) yes, it is a bit more brutal on the body with probably more chances of crashing. But ride more in the dirt and you get used to it. For someone that rides 90% of the time on the road a 30 mile mtb ride is gonna beat them up pretty good. For someone thats used to it, its nothing. Again, specificity.

I ride the road too, but its more because there are faster and more frequent rides that are great for training. But I can go out and do a hard ride on the trails and put out just as many watts for just as long. Its just a different surface.

Another bonus to riding in the dirt is that you get better at riding the dirt. The roadie often looks quite awkward in technical situations where the mtber can fly right past comfortably.

Like I said, it depends on your local trails, but riding just the mtb can give you the same fitness as riding the road. Dirt might have technical sections wehre you stop pedaling for a few moments but we dont have stop lights either. :)

SOrry this is scrambled up. Im in a hurry.
 

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francois said:
Road biking will get you more fit than mountain biking. That's why every pro XC mtb racer trains on the road bike. At the expert and semi-pro level, they mostly train on the road bike too.

The reasons are this:
1)

2)

3)
4) Because a road is more uniform than a trail you can do things like interval training or concentrate on your spin more easily.

Its not that it will get you more fit though, it'll generally get you fit faster and its a lot easier to work on problem areas.
 

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wooglin said:
4) Because a road is more uniform than a trail you can do things like interval training or concentrate on your spin more easily.

Its not that it will get you more fit though, it'll generally get you fit faster and its a lot easier to work on problem areas.
Ya, I agree with that, but not always. Again, I'll come back to specificity. My personal theory is that a mtb racer doesnt need 1 minute intervals. He needs to be better at 10 minute intervals. A road racer needs one minute intervals and the like to make it into a break or close a gap or whatever. The mtber needs to be able to put the hammer down for 2 hours fairly steady. He needs to be very efficient at aerobic stuff rather than sprinting.

I can go find a good 10 minute climb and do some timed runs up it and get more benefit as a mtber than going on the road and doing 10 1 minute intervals. Your body will adapt to whatever you do. If you want to be a good sprinter, sprint a lot. If you want to climb well, go climb. Going anearobic on the mtb is necessary but hopefully 99% of the time youre not.

The bottom line is how many watts you put out over a period of time. It might be a little harder to do a certain workout on the trails but it can be done. Thats all Im saying. I ride the road too, but not for intervals, just fast company.
 

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Roadies are like scientists of fast

Fillet-brazed said:
Depending on the terrain you have to ride you can get just as fit on either bike. One will not get you more fit than the other. How do you come to this conclusion?

One reason why Cat 5 is fast is because in road racing you have to start at the bottom when you decide to race. The last cat 5 race I did (at sea otter a few years ago) was filled with 5 or 6 top experts and 2 semi pro mtbers. Cat 5 has the whole spectrum of fitness levels from semi-pro to joe fred who has been riding for 7 months.

Usually guys who ride the road are more serious about training but its not the pavement that gets them fit. Dirt will do it to you too. Sometimes local trails arent good training though and the road will do you more good.
real serious about their training/riding, bike set up, diet and nutrition.

Off roading is more on the gas, off the gas and road riding is a steadier load for longer lengths of time, also MTBing is too jarring on the skelton to do for mega hours a week, unlike road riding.

I do believe though MTBing and road riding complement each other as far as building fitness, power and over all bike handling skills.
 

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Hey... you asked for the reasons why road is better training and we gave it to you.

If you're going to counterpoint every point, then what's the point? There's an exception to everything and if you try to break down every reason, then nothing is going to convince you otherwise.

I think the efficiencies of road are really more significant at the the highest levels of training. If somone is trying to win the beginner class, it hardly matters where they train. But if someone is trying to be Norba Champ or World champ, gotta get a roadie bike.

fc
 

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I agree with Frances

For someone who used to be dirt and only dirt, my fitness level took off once I purchased a road bike. No doubt it will not help you much in technical riding out on the trail, but I have gotten much better fitness through the road climbs than the dirt climbs around here, and in the bay area you have pretty much the best of both worlds. I don't belive that one hurts the other, but with all of the rain this year I still improved my fitness with pretty much sticking to the road. I think the biggest key is the constant pedaling, focus on improved pedal stroke, it is easier to do longer rides and improve you form while not getting beat up from bouncing around on the trail. The biggest data point in my mind is that I have found road riders to be in much better shape than mountain bikers. you can get in shape riding the road and compete in mountain bike races, but I think it is much much harder ride only on the dirt and stand a prayer being competitive on the road.

Regardless for me, I am doing both and I think I enjoy riding the dirt because I ride my road bike and vice versa.
 

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Bike Nazi said:
real serious about their training/riding, bike set up, diet and nutrition.

Off roading is more on the gas, off the gas and road riding is a steadier load for longer lengths of time, also MTBing is too jarring on the skelton to do for mega hours a week, unlike road riding.

I do believe though MTBing and road riding complement each other as far as building fitness, power and over all bike handling skills.
Mmmm this is a fun one. Watching two guys school someone they clearly don't know from a hole in the ground about what it means to train on road versus off... You guys ever stop and realize that not all of us are simply opinionated amateurs shooting from the hip on this forum? Anonimity is interesting in these situations. The idea that roading is superior to mtb for mtb racing works in some locales, not at all in others, and only for some disciplines. As far as broad and sweeping generalizations, there aren't any. Some of the fastest names in the history of our sport have trained in dirt, for dirt exclusively. Some haven't. And some people know this better than others...
 

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Goose127 said:
For someone who used to be dirt and only dirt, my fitness level took off once I purchased a road bike. No doubt it will not help you much in technical riding out on the trail, but I have gotten much better fitness through the road climbs than the dirt climbs around here, and in the bay area you have pretty much the best of both worlds. I don't belive that one hurts the other, but with all of the rain this year I still improved my fitness with pretty much sticking to the road. I think the biggest key is the constant pedaling, focus on improved pedal stroke, it is easier to do longer rides and improve you form while not getting beat up from bouncing around on the trail. The biggest data point in my mind is that I have found road riders to be in much better shape than mountain bikers. you can get in shape riding the road and compete in mountain bike races, but I think it is much much harder ride only on the dirt and stand a prayer being competitive on the road.

Regardless for me, I am doing both and I think I enjoy riding the dirt because I ride my road bike and vice versa.
I guess what Im trying to say here is that you can take any ride on the road (graphed with a power meter) and duplicate it in the dirt without too much dificulty.

Weve got a fast weekly road ride in my locale with a slew of local national champions (mostly masters) in all sorts of various disciplines and its a good measuring stick of fitness. I can quit doing that ride for 4-5 months sometimes and ride strictly in the dirt and come back and do just as good as I was when spending a lot of time on the road. What does that mean? I dont know. I just know you cant just say roadies are more fit cause they ride the road.

As a general rule, the road is great training, but not necessary. The one thing the road is excellent for is recovery rides.

Also you said road is more steady than mtbing. Well, just wait until you try your first road race. Its all about short little spurts of power. If you cant close a gap or hang at a certain point the race is over. MTB racing is a comparitively very steady power output. Ive experienced much more pain in a cat 5 road race than I ever have in an expert mtb race.

Another note, mtbers are found to have a smoother pedaling stroke than their roadie counterparts at the Olympic training center. Some people think this is because a smooth power delivery/pedal stroke helps maintain traction needed in the dirt.
 

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francois said:
Hey... you asked for the reasons why road is better training and we gave it to you.

If you're going to counterpoint every point, then what's the point? There's an exception to everything and if you try to break down every reason, then nothing is going to convince you otherwise.

I think the efficiencies of road are really more significant at the the highest levels of training. If somone is trying to win the beginner class, it hardly matters where they train. But if someone is trying to be Norba Champ or World champ, gotta get a roadie bike.

fc
oh, I must have somehow missed that part where I was asking "you guys" for reasons. And sorry for responding to your 3 points. ;)

A road bike can def be an attribute to anyone's training. I just dont agree that the best or only way to get fit is on a road bike. I can tell you that one can win expert races by training strictly in the dirt or by doing both. Or how about beating roadies up a road climb on the way back home from a dirt ride? Thats my favorite. :)

Training for a certain activity is best done by doing that specific activity is my personal opinion. Thats all. Throw in a bit of road for some variety and thats perfect.
 
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