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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It was finally warm here in Denver, so I hopped on the road bike for the day, and I really feel like spinning uphill on the mountain bike has improved my road biking. Lol, that and a 16lb road bike feels like a feather underneath me! Anyone feel like road riding helps more with mtbing?
 

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Old man on a bike
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I prefer to think the other way, that the road bike helps me on the mountain bike...although I do like getting on the road bike after a period of mountain biking, the feeling of minimal rolling resistance, better power transfer and well, speed.
 

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Tough Guy Extraordinaire
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I agree with bikinfool. I started road riding to keep up with the guys I ride in the woods with. They were able to sustain more power for longer. Once I started riding on the road my mountain biking became a lot easier and I was able to keep up.

Although, if your goal is to ride on the road to improve your riding in the woods, be sure you should are climbing lots.

I always feel like my roadie is much quicker than my pig. The worst feeling is spending a bunch of time on the road bike and then jumping on the mountain bike. What a pig!
 

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Bicyclochondriac.
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hitek79 said:
It was finally warm here in Denver, so I hopped on the road bike for the day, and I really feel like spinning uphill on the mountain bike has improved my road biking. Lol, that and a 16lb road bike feels like a feather underneath me! Anyone feel like road riding helps more with mtbing?
As much as I prefer mountain biking, I think road helps mountain much more than vice-verca.
 

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LCI #1853
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It's a mutual deal...

Road riding helps build endurance and aerobic capacity. I find it helped me a whole lot in simply having the ability to keep trucking along the trail and over the many little rollers.

On the other hand, mountain biking really helps your bike handling and technical skills. I teach the League of American Bicyclists' "Smart Cycling" classes, and I find that my students who come from an MTB background have far less problems in mastering the handling and avoidance drills. Road bikers tend to want to go in a straight line all the time, MTB'ers are used to panic stops, quick turns, dodging obstacles, and leaning the bike.

Personally, skills I learned on my MTB have saved my butt out on the road a bunch of times in the past year or so... from hitting a deer and staying upright, to hitting a possum while pulling a paceline (in the dark, no less) and rolling right on, not to mention all the other little road hazards.

I ride mostly road and urban commuting, but almost any time on the MTB is quality time.

Tom
 

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I'm with PscyclePath. I rode mtn bikes for years. Then stopped riding and then tried again and nearly died of exhaustion.

I've been riding road for the last several years. When I got back into mtn biking, I found that I could concentrate on the actual ride vs me being out of breath all the time. Or, if I am breathing really hard, I can sustain it a lot longer.

I ride 30-50mile rides on my road bike. So I'm used to exerting for 2-3hrs without a problem. The difference with mtn biking, my upper body is all sore the next day, while my legs feel pretty fresh.

But then I entered a Mountain pass road race. I got my butt kicked by my co-worker that is a mountain biker. I lacked the explosive power that comes from interval training. Interval training on a road bike sucks. It's painful and it's boring. But mountain biking is a forced interval training. Anerobic-rest-anerobic-rest...etc Whereas the road riding is a sustained, lower level of exertion. Unless you are on some kind of uber fast paceline.

So I've been trying to get on the trails over the winter to work on my power and stay in shape to help my road riding. But my road riding allows me the endurance to recover while on trail.
 

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Former Bike Wrench
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For fitness level, the road bike does much more for me because I spend most of the ride doing aerobic conditioning. The 30-50 mile rides are great for endurance and fat burning as well.

Since the mountain bike trails tend to be more aerobic to anaerobic and back, I don't feel that I get as fit riding the mountain bike. On the flip side, maintaining my technical skills mountain biking has more than once saved my arse on the road by being able to avoid obstacles (road debris, cars, people, crashed bikes) by bunny hopping or even going off road without crashing (think Lance in the 2003 TdF).
 

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I guess I totally forgot about the reflexes and obstacle avoidance skills you get with mtn biking. Going off road on my road bike is no big deal since I'm used to my tires sliding around on the trail.

I can see how if you've never mtn biked, this could be quite the scary experience.
 

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noMAD man
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PsyclePath's take is correct. My short take is that road riding helps only with fitness for MTB'ing. MTB'ing helps with a different type of fitness and a whole lot of bike control. I used to road ride a bit with some friends who were "road-only" riders. When I bunny hopped a patch of gravel or nasty crack in the edge of the pavement, most of the roadies were horrified that I was going to crash. One time another serious MTB'er was on one of these rides with this group when a deer shot out of the vegetation on the side of the road. It ran right in front of the MTB'er who kept his cool, brushed by the deer, and maintained control of the roadbike. There was even some deer hair stuck to the front brake lever. The roadies were totally amazed...and even I was amazed. I'm not saying road-only riders are sissies by any means, but they usually don't know the capabilities of their bikes, even with those skinny tires. The incident with Lance Armstrong at the TDF where he did a decently hairy offroad excursion to avoid a crashed rider is an example of such IMO. Lance has done quite a few MTB races in my state over the years, and it has probably helped his bike handling under all circumstances. When everything is going well on a roadbike on a road ride, I don't think anything from MTB'ing really contributes much to performance. But when things go bad...
 

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I reluctantly admit that road biking is better for dropping weight. It's more aerobic. I can maintain a given power level for long stretches and "push the envelope" in a consistent way.

Off road, on steep climbs it's like hopping from one 100% effort to another to get up hills and get over obstacles. That's why I like it. But on really nice MTB courses, it's not aerobic.
 

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You all are spot on.
I've been mtnbiking for many years and just recently converted an avid road biker over to mtnbiking,we are very close in weight and fitness.
i'm much more advanced then he on technical terrain and really pull away but on smooth climbs was very surprised that i really had to push extremely hard to keep up with him.
He's like the energizer bunny,just keeps going.

Here lately he's been asking "why do you keep choosing technical trails".:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was thinking more about this today when I was mtbing, and I think the difference is the gearing. To me, on long uphills on the mtb, I can use a much lower gear and keep a higher cadence. On longer uphills with road bike gearing and no real granny gear, I always feel like I'm really cranking to keep a good pace, but after a lot of higher cadence spinning on the mtb, it's easier on the road bike. Maybe it's just time for a triple on the road bike, huh?
 

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knock-knock...
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haha i mtbing has saved my butt too. I was coming home from work this summer on the road bike, and it was a long day and i had a pretty stiff wind to fight, so i wasn't too thrilled. I was getting into an alright rhythm (i had like 11 miles on a state highway) and just had my head down/wasn't really watching where i was going. I looked up, and a birch tree had fallen into the road. There was no time to do anything, it was right there, and instinctively i just jumped the bike over it. i knocked my front wheel out of true on the way down, but i had a spoke wrench so it was alright. i had to stop and go back and marvel at how high it was, it was probably one of the highest bunny hops i have ever done, but totally instinct. Go mtbing!
 

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I like to ride my bike.
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skottt160 said:
haha i mtbing has saved my butt too. I was coming home from work this summer on the road bike, and it was a long day and i had a pretty stiff wind to fight, so i wasn't too thrilled. I was getting into an alright rhythm (i had like 11 miles on a state highway) and just had my head down/wasn't really watching where i was going. I looked up, and a birch tree had fallen into the road. There was no time to do anything, it was right there, and instinctively i just jumped the bike over it. i knocked my front wheel out of true on the way down, but i had a spoke wrench so it was alright. i had to stop and go back and marvel at how high it was, it was probably one of the highest bunny hops i have ever done, but totally instinct. Go mtbing!
I had a similar experience, riding home from work; tree limb (quite large actually) with branches, saw it at the last second, but I did not want to risk hopping it. I knew there was a car behind me and I did not want to mess up and get run over, so I just smashed into it. It got caught in my bike and part got thrown at the car. I was kinda embarrassed.

Anyway...I agree that both types of biking help each other. For all the reasons already mentioned, but I recently read that mtb'ers have smoother pedal strokes than most roadies since we have to be very meticulous about maintaining traction with even pedal strokes. Makes sense.

I enjoy both, road for the pure speed and mtb for the challenge.
 

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yeah, uh............bikes
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RideFaster said:
I had a similar experience, riding home from work; tree limb (quite large actually) with branches, saw it at the last second, but I did not want to risk hopping it. I knew there was a car behind me and I did not want to mess up and get run over, so I just smashed into it. It got caught in my bike and part got thrown at the car. I was kinda embarrassed.

Anyway...I agree that both types of biking help each other. For all the reasons already mentioned, but I recently read that mtb'ers have smoother pedal strokes than most roadies since we have to be very meticulous about maintaining traction with even pedal strokes. Makes sense.

I enjoy both, road for the pure speed and mtb for the challenge.
hmmmm, i've heard the opposite about the pedal stroke thing. I have to "train" myself to pedal in circles much more than on my mtbike. I think that comes mostly from riding flats and the type of riding down here (very short, very steep stuff).

I had to decide between road and mtn today and I gotta admit that road won. I need the aerobic stuff, need long saddle time, and it was a pretty nice day to ride along the beach.
(different bike, same road)
 

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RideFaster said:
Anyway...I agree that both types of biking help each other. For all the reasons already mentioned, but I recently read that mtb'ers have smoother pedal strokes than most roadies since we have to be very meticulous about maintaining traction with even pedal strokes. Makes sense.

I enjoy both, road for the pure speed and mtb for the challenge.
I find the opposite true. It's easier for me to be in a higher gear as I climb and really concentrate on a circular motion. I can feel every bit of upstroke. With a light, stiff bike, I can just add a bit more pedal pressure and go lower cadence and I go faster up hill.

On my mtn bike, I tend to spin too much. I have to remind myself to use a slightly higher gear and really be effecient with my pedal stroke. Otherwise my HR goes way too high.

In terms of pure climbing, I have to use the gears on my mtn bike. Also, when I had my mtn bike shoes and pedals on my road bike, I had to use the gears and spin as well. Switching to road pedals and shoes, I found I was able to transfer power better and use a higher gear with just a touch more pedal effort and I went faster. It made that much of a difference.

I have two road bikes (one for commuting and one for nice weekend rides) with Keo/Look pedals and my mtn bike with spd pedals. I have to admit, the funky walking with road cleats is worth it for my road rides.
 
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