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  1. #1
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    New question here. Is Road Riding making me weaker?

    A couple of months ago I picked-up a used road bike to help improve my spin / overall fitness. Me I am turning 50 this year and have been riding mbikes for 25 years. This is my first road bike. I am starting my training for 52 mile event with 12K climbing taking place the first week of April.

    I have been doing road rides on the weekends (50-80 miles with 4-5K of climbing) and riding my single speed one night during the week (15-18 miles 3-4K of climbing). At lunch I go to the gym 3-4 days a week and do weight training.

    On New Year’s day I decided to take my geared mbike out for a 25-30 mile ride. Ended up riding 28 miles 5K of climbing. My plan is to increase my weekend and weekday rides every week through March.

    At the end of the ride I was struggling with the climbs! Am I losing my “masher” strength to being a better spinner? Should I ditch the road bike for a while and spend more time on the mbike?

    All advice appreciated!

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I have found that if I don't really hammer on the road bike, it is not nearly as intense as mtn bike climbing. The steepness of mtn bike climbs is always greater than road climbs at least around here. Heart rate monitor is helpful here to make sure you are working hard enough on the road.

  3. #3
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    If your road bike doesn't have a Standard Double crankset on it, put one on it. Also, road riding is only as challenging as you make it. The true benefit of road riding is that you can do interval training with more consistent intervals due to the non-technical nature of road riding in general. Do hill repeats if you are working on your climbing. Make sure your bike doesn't have too easy of a bailout gear. I haven't met anything on the road I couldn't climb with a 39-25 combo.
    "...when I stand to climb I'm like the Hulk rowing the USS Badass up the Kickass River."
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  4. #4
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    On just every mtb ride I take in just about every locale, there is some of what I would call "high torque, low cadence" climbing required. Not always true on the road bike. Best to train on both, IMO, as road and mtb both offer their own respective conditioning benefits.

    But given a choice of only one, choose the mtb. It is, after all, what you are planning to race, and your course sounds like it has pretty big climbing demands.
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  5. #5
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    Is Road Riding making me weaker?

    Fixed gear.


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    There's something about those long grueling climbs that gets my front end all stiff... And I'm not talking about lockout...

  6. #6
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    Those long road rides killed my mtb power... Too much focus on the slow twitch survival mode... Interval training is key...

  7. #7
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    If you really want to get stronger then try trail running on the same stuff you love to ride, running really works those out of the saddle muscle groups. I understand running is not for everyone but that's because it's such a hard sport, plus people tend to try it on the road or boring fire roads and yeah as MTBers we all know how much fun that is.

    But you asked about road biking so here it is

    Road biking won't train your mashing muscle group unless your mashing on the road bike, what it will do if ridden with other people faster then you is open your lungs and threshold. Not all Mtb climbs last more then 10mins so its hard to train for such a segment regularly. On a road bike it's easier to find longer sections of road to pick a pace and cadence on and stick with it over 30 mins. I can't ride more then 10mins solo on my road bike before wanting to shoot myself in the head out of boredom, but with other fast friends it becomes a great friendly challenge of cat and mouse which make it tolerable.

    If your focusing on a single speed Mtb like I have been then use the road bike for recovery rides as well as some hard sustained efforts. I'm not sure what your local trails look like but my stuff is so steep I have to give 100% on every climb just to crawl my way to the top. So easy days or tapering before a race or event aren't really possible on the SS. I can however head out with my group of road riders and spin away and burn my lungs without ever really felling like I'm damaging my legs.

    Like other have said road biking is only as hard as you make it but if you take into account the effect of drafting in a group then it become much easier to find several other riders for you to train with that are close to your level.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iamrockandroll13 View Post
    ... road riding is only as challenging as you make it. The true benefit of road riding is that you can do interval training with more consistent intervals due to the non-technical nature of road riding in general. Do hill repeats if you are working on your climbing. Make sure your bike doesn't have too easy of a bailout gear.
    This.

    I've trained to podium finishes at several 100s and stage races doing 90% of my training on the road and the other 10% riding my SS on techy singletrack. You have to put in the intensity if you want to see benefits.
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  9. #9
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    Funny because I thought riding my SS during the week would help maintain my power…….not so much.

    Tomorrow I am taking out my geared mbike and planning on a 40-50 mile ride (8K climbing). This should be a good test to see if I was just having an off day on my last ride or if I need to make some changes.

    Thanks all for the input!…….you have given me some good ideas.

    I may try and switch every other weekend mountain / road.

    Increase the intensity with interval training on the road bike.

    Trail running sounds like fun and will give it a try.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeeZee View Post
    A couple of months ago I picked-up a used road bike to help improve my spin / overall fitness. Me I am turning 50 this year and have been riding mbikes for 25 years. This is my first road bike. I am starting my training for 52 mile event with 12K climbing taking place the first week of April.

    I have been doing road rides on the weekends (50-80 miles with 4-5K of climbing) and riding my single speed one night during the week (15-18 miles 3-4K of climbing). At lunch I go to the gym 3-4 days a week and do weight training.

    On New Year’s day I decided to take my geared mbike out for a 25-30 mile ride. Ended up riding 28 miles 5K of climbing. My plan is to increase my weekend and weekday rides every week through March.

    At the end of the ride I was struggling with the climbs! Am I losing my “masher” strength to being a better spinner? Should I ditch the road bike for a while and spend more time on the mbike?

    All advice appreciated!

    Thanks

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    Vision Quest, Huh????

    Ding Ding Ding....we have a winner!

    Rode the Counting Coup in the past on a single speed. This year the VQ (with gears :-0)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeeZee View Post
    Ding Ding Ding....we have a winner!

    Rode the Counting Coup in the past on a single speed. This year the VQ (with gears :-0)

    VQ on the SS for me. I usually work the event....this year I get to ride.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    VQ on the SS for me. I usually work the event....this year I get to ride.
    Sweet.....

    Wave when you pass me :-)

  14. #14
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    As said, if you're just doing long road rides without some intensity thrown in, you'll loose your power. I did lots of road riding when I was training to do Leadville, but I got in with a good road crew who loved to do sudden jumps, hammer out the hills and generally have what I consider fun on the road. If you're riding solo road, then you'll really have to work hard and concentrate and throw various forms of intervals into the rides - decide you're going to jump up and give maxx effort to that pole 150 meters away, you're going to hammer this hill in a specific gear, basically simulate race type activities of jumps and break aways.
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  15. #15
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    Rode a 50 miler today with 6K climbing on the mountain bike. Felt much better on the hills!

    Sounds like I need to increase my intensity on road rides and more intervals.

    Thanks all and I will report back in a couple of weeks.

  16. #16
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    The only purpose of training on pavement for me is that on trails sometimes I'm busting my lung up a sudden steep hill when my training plan wants me to be in HR Zone 1 or 2, i.e. - in the rest period between intervals. Most roads seem to have steadier, more gradual grade changes, which is better for following specific HR or power zones/interval workouts.

    Quote Originally Posted by RojoRacing53 View Post
    I can't ride more then 10mins solo on my road bike before wanting to shoot myself in the head out of boredom
    Werd! I think it's important, if you call yourself a mountain biker, to regularly go ride technical trails and leave the HR monitor/power meter at home. (unless you're training for Leadville).
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  17. #17
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    Just got done cranking out a quick 42 miles with my local Sunday road ride group. I just stayed at the front and pulled them along while maintaining a pace I felt I could hold for about 30mins. Sometimes the whole group would come by me but mostly it would only be one or two riders who would pass me while everyone else just stuck behind me. I'd rest for a minute or so and go back by to the front for another 5-10 mins until someone felt ambitious again.

    It ends being a great 2hr tempo ride and give some of the faster riders in the group a chance to measure they level against mine since I'm kinda the local fast guy. There was some *****ing from behind in the group, probably the guys who like to have sprinting battles after the group slows for a bit to recover. I don't give the sprinters any time to fully recover so they can get a little *****y sometimes.

    I don't think today's ride is going to help me mash up any hills but it will help me recover quicker between climbs on my next MTB ride.

  18. #18
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    One statement that is absolutely true across multiple disciplines of racing is this: You cannot get faster by training slower.

    Yes, road riding will help with your overall endurance, but you need to have some intervals in there or you'll wind up being a supremely fit slow rider.

    I've also always been kind of fond of this:
    "Mountain bikers who don't ride road are slow. Roadies who don't ride dirt are d*cks." - Unknown

    Not an absolute truth, but you get the idea.

  19. #19
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    This thread is becoming my go to place for awesome quotes

  20. #20
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    Mountain bikers who don't ride road have no legs, roadies who don't ride mountain bikes have no souls.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Mountain bikers who don't ride road have no legs, roadies who don't ride mountain bikes have no souls.
    This G rated version is just as true!

  22. #22
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    Some pretty foolish and ignorant generalizations being tossed around in a couple posts regarding who has soul or how is *****, etc. Same old tired, childish "us against them, I'm (we're) better than you (them) drivel.

    Whether you're riding pavement or dirt, it's all about how you train. The bike is just a tool. It tends to be easier to do specific blocks at specific intensities on the road which is very useful for whatever your training goal is. You can do the same on an MTB if the terrain is suitable, but generally a road bike is the better tool.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Some pretty foolish and ignorant generalizations being tossed around in a couple posts regarding who has soul or how is *****, etc. Same old tired, childish "us against them, I'm (we're) better than you (them) drivel.

    Whether you're riding pavement or dirt, it's all about how you train. The bike is just a tool. It tends to be easier to do specific blocks at specific intensities on the road which is very useful for whatever your training goal is. You can do the same on an MTB if the terrain is suitable, but generally a road bike is the better tool.
    "Lighten up, Francis." - Sgt. Hulka

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  24. #24
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    I think we're all in agreement here about the usefulness of road training for building specific physiological systems that aid in your general cycling fitness, but there are trail-specific handling/technical skills that require practice that you just can not do on the road. For that you need to also add in specific mtb-skills workouts into your rotation. There is nothing anti-roadie about that, jokes about losing your soul aside, it's pretty normal and non-controversial. If you don't ever ride your mountain bike, what's the point really of entering a mountain bike race, or posting on mtbr, for that matter?
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  25. #25
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    Find a tough local group road group, strong roadies are nothing to laugh at. Getting dropped makes you stronger....hows that for a quote haha.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ View Post
    Find a tough local group road group, strong roadies are nothing to laugh at. Getting dropped makes you stronger....hows that for a quote haha.
    True....strong roadies are nothing to laugh at...... Their shaved legs are enough ;-)

  27. #27
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    Good post.

    The "road biking to improve mountain biking" thing finally got the better of me too...

    Long sustained spinning has always been my Achilles heel on a mountain bike. Like long, gradual, non-technical hill climbs. The areas I've lived in out East have a lot of super intense, but short,ups and downs. So, those long spins are not "built into" the ride. So, borrowed a trainer and built up an old frame and have been using that to train that weak spot. Will see how it goes.

    Having spent many year on a SS, and racing a few on a SS, as well as loving short technical climbs, I've never had an issue with short power bursts. If I miss a tech climb I'll go back at least 3 to 5 times to try and get it. Also, I do strength training with weights and some other high intensity sports, so that adds to power. Intensity has alway been built into my existing sports so in my mind no need for it on a road bike.

    This might be a bit of a stretch... I found riding rigid SS and HTs through the years in East coast chunk had been more of a whole body, out of the saddle, high intensity venture. Now, as many of us are riding 6" travel beasts on those same trails, there is much more of a sit and spin style to riding (relative to "back when"). While this builds in more sit and spin time to my normal loops, coming off virtually no riding during winter months, doing do "road miles" on the trainer this time of year might pay off. We'll see.

    Specificity. Tailoring road bike rides to hit your weak spots instead of hoping that it might improve all aspects of mountain biking might be the way to go. If you are already great on power maybe no need to do intervals on the road. If you are weak on the sustained push, then maybe a few steady hours at lactate threshold on the road would be better. If you are already good at both... toss the road bike.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Good post.

    The "road biking to improve mountain biking" thing finally got the better of me too...

    Long sustained spinning has always been my Achilles heel on a mountain bike. Like long, gradual, non-technical hill climbs. The areas I've lived in out East have a lot of super intense, but short,ups and downs. So, those long spins are not "built into" the ride. So, borrowed a trainer and built up an old frame and have been using that to train that weak spot. Will see how it goes.

    Having spent many year on a SS, and racing a few on a SS, as well as loving short technical climbs, I've never had an issue with short power bursts. If I miss a tech climb I'll go back at least 3 to 5 times to try and get it. Also, I do strength training with weights and some other high intensity sports, so that adds to power. Intensity has alway been built into my existing sports so in my mind no need for it on a road bike.

    This might be a bit of a stretch... I found riding rigid SS and HTs through the years in East coast chunk had been more of a whole body, out of the saddle, high intensity venture. Now, as many of us are riding 6" travel beasts on those same trails, there is much more of a sit and spin style to riding (relative to "back when"). While this builds in more sit and spin time to my normal loops, coming off virtually no riding during winter months, doing do "road miles" on the trainer this time of year might pay off. We'll see.

    Specificity. Tailoring road bike rides to hit your weak spots instead of hoping that it might improve all aspects of mountain biking might be the way to go. If you are already great on power maybe no need to do intervals on the road. If you are weak on the sustained push, then maybe a few steady hours at lactate threshold on the road would be better. If you are already good at both... toss the road bike.
    Thanks. For me I think it comes down to balance and I need the following:

    1. Weight training. I will be 50 this year and I need to maintain muscle mass.
    2. Single speed Mbike. Out of the saddle and hitting it hard
    3. Road Bike. It really has helped my spin and become faster.
    4. Geared Mbike. Long rides with varying terrain.
    5. Nutrition
    6.Rest

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeeZee View Post
    Thanks. For me I think it comes down to balance and I need the following:

    6.Rest
    Amen to that one! With every year past 50, I find there is no getting around the need for a true day off once in awhile.

    Not an easy day or "active rest day".

    An actual day off.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  30. #30
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    I use my gravel grinder bike for sweet spot, interval, and tempo training. Its really hard to keep a good tempo pace going in the trails. Adding the dirt road training has increased my watts about 15%-20% over last year at this time.
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  31. #31
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    Here is the way road biking helps us. When I ride with a faster group, I have to up my output to stay with everyone. Imagine riding with a group that is doing 30 mph and I am just hanging on. Now picture holding that speed for 10 miles. Even if I am drafting, holding that speed gets harder minute by minute until I am ready to blow up. Now our group stops and waits for everyone to catch up, that's when your heart rate starts falling. After a 3 minute rest the group starts out and the speed starts getting faster until you feel that"blowing up" is just ahead of you.

    What you are doing is riding on the anaerobic edge and doing intervals in a way you can't get to when riding off road.

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    /\ this.. I find this to be true as well and I bought a road bike for this reason. Its a humbling experience to think you pretty darn quick on a mtn bike and then go on a "Tempo Tuesday" road ride and get massacred by a bunch of shaved legged roadies.. LOL...

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by jarwes View Post
    Its a humbling experience to think you pretty darn quick on a mtn bike and then go on a "Tempo Tuesday" road ride and get massacred by a bunch of shaved legged roadies.. LOL...
    Of course, you realize that when a new guy shows up, "Tempo Tuesday" gets an increased tempo without any overt discussion by the regular group, right? A new guy has dues to pay, even if they are doled out in a friendly manner.

    Group riding is great. One of the best things is that you must go hard when the group goes hard, instead of going hard in situations where you are already strong, which is always my tendency when training solo. To me, this mimics a real racing environment.

    One of my favorite things about road training is that it's different from mtb, and for me, variety is essential to avoid mental burn out.

    MTB, road, gravel. I try to mix it all up, though I really get course-focussed around 8 weeks out from my "target" 100 milers.

    Example: The Butte 100 has a horrendously steep 3 mile ATV climb around the 65 mile point (leaving Basin Creek Park). The only thing that helps me there is to make sure I've done several training rides that include a climb like that when I've already ridden 5 hours.

    Remind me again, how is this activity fun?
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  34. #34
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    Of course, you realize that when a new guy shows up, "Tempo Tuesday" gets an increased tempo without any overt discussion by the regular group, right? A new guy has dues to pay, even if they are doled out in a friendly manner.
    Of course... Its haze the new guy.. LOL..

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    Road biking is great. The trail running really helped me. Then i started running ultras,up to a 50 miler. I am back on the bike now and hope to do a healthy mix of events, Enjoy the now!

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    I'm a 49 y/o road/CX/MTB rider and racer - been racing on and off since my late teens. Experience tells me: For absolute, at your threshold effort road racing is the hardest - repeated intervals at your maximum test your power and recovery - it simply is a war of attrition and only the strongest make the selection to fight out the places. The best placed guys at my local MTB races all race on the road.
    CX is very intense and best for handling skills - if you can handle skinny CX tyres in really slippery/muddy conditions you'll rarely struggle with MTB. You'll race for an hour right on your threshold with very little recovery.
    MTB racing puts the two together to good use - but in MTB racing you rarely use the explosive, threshold power you need for road racing plus the terrain / conditions is what dictates the pace and having the right bike and tyres for the conditions is far more critical - less so for the others as it's more down to the fitness and strength of the rider.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeeZee View Post
    I am starting my training for 52 mile event with 12K climbing taking place the first week of April.
    s
    Wow, this is f-ing steep what part of the world is this ? Do you you have a gpx/strava ?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    Wow, this is f-ing steep what part of the world is this ? Do you you have a gpx/strava ?

    So. Cal.

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  39. #39
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    Is Road Riding making me weaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    Wow, this is f-ing steep what part of the world is this ? Do you you have a gpx/strava ?
    It is the Vision Quest in Orange County CA
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  40. #40
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    Vision Quest...

    And here I though we were refering to the movie with Matthew Modine. No wonder I didn't get it.

  41. #41
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    you can do all this on a mountain bike on the 'ROAD" too....
    b/c I have spent all my dough on a Spc Epic WC 2014 and my back up 2013 Epic Carbon comp....wife would kill me if I got another bike so I train with my 2013 on the rd...

  42. #42
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    single speed road bike, but at age 50 NOT a fixie. bang out some 140 RPM flats and grunt up some hills. and then a geared road bike for big-ring >30MPH flats. that'll do ya

  43. #43
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    I use one of my mountain bikes with slicks to ride the pavement. I do easier recovery rides because it is easier to control that. When I do a harder ride, I incorporate hillier terrain. Once a week I do intervals. My favorite is, after warming up, doing 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 minutes/minute at 85% effort with 1 to 2 minute recoveries between. If the interval starts uphill then I go. It makes the time fly and you will feel it the next day. I also have a single speed set up for the road with cross tires that I use on gravel as well. Very good strength workout and spinning on the flats. I do pushups at least 4 to 5 days per week and on my off day, I do yoga and foam roll a lot. By doing this and having variety, I never feel burned out and feel stronger on the trails when I ride them and then when spring comes, I feel ready to go and do a few races throughout the year. My 2 cents.

  44. #44
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    Gave up on the trainer. Couldn't hack the boredom. Getting back outside on the bike today, even in the sleet, slush, and ice, has me grinning ear to ear.

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    Went for a group road ride yesterday with a big group most of which race regularly. Everyone commented about how they were glad the pace was easy, but for me it was HARD. My HR was way up for most of the ride just riding in the paceline. And this went on for 3+ hours! I was pretty shocked. I could hang on the flats, but any hill longer than about a minute I got dropped. Granted I am 200lbs but even so it was eye opening to the level of fitness roadies are operating at. Way beyond what I am used to. When I ride by myself, I tend to go hard on the flats, and back off for the hills. This was the opposite: "easy" on the flats, and hammer the hills. My goals this year are Crusher in the Tushar, and Butte 50, and I can see if I keep doing these group rides I will develop a top end like I have never had before...

  46. #46
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    here is my take on it: Last year, jan-feb-march and april I only rode loose rocky and technical single track. The kind where you are just happy to make it to the tops of hills..

    Then due to over grown trails I switched to about 95% road during may-june and July to train for a big 100 miler in August.. I was putting in the hours (15-18 per week) but not so much the intensity I guess. I live in a remote area so Im always riding by myself so it's hard for me to ride hard solo on the road.. But on my MTB and the trails I ride you dont have a choice but to ride hard...

    Anyway, in May I was flying!!! and only riding about 10 hours a week.. In august I wasnt slow but definitely felt as though I had lost some major fitness and was riding almost 20 hours per week.

    To me thats a big part of the fun of cycling is figuring all this cool stuff out!

    I guess you can be fast by riding road but you better kill it!

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