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  1. #1
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    Hi All,

    First a little background, I dabbled in some XC racing this year and found out that I:
    a.) Sucked (Not skill wise but fitness) and
    b.) It's truly something I want to try and push myself to improve at.

    So that said, I am focusing on getting much stronger for my main season which kicks off in fall. I have a plan in place, much of it involves (early on at least) controlled rides either on easy trail, road, or trainer.

    So what I'm grappling with is this. I have a road bike that is suitable to train on - nothing serious just a basic lower level 5 year old bike, but not one i want to invest too heavily in. In terms of fit it's the right size but I'd really have to invest in a better saddle and a proper fit as it's just not quite right. But I also have a spare wheel that I can use for my MTB on my trainer. I know many here like road bikes for training, but I'm actually thinking of the opposite and selling the road bike and investing a bit into truly dialing in the XC bike.

    What are some opinions out there? In a perfect world I'd have both a dialed road bike and MTB, but hobby money is separate from family money so i have to be as efficient as possible. I'm of the mind that I'd rather train more on the bike that I plan to race on and have a bit of extra cash from selling the road bike to put into it, as opposed to investing even small coin into the road bike. The counterpoint is that by keeping the road bike I'd save the drivetrain wear and tear (minor I'd guess) and also I wouldn't have to keep taking the wheel in and out - not a huge burden. Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Keep the road bike. Its easier on the body, and I think it works well for long endurance rides. It also seems to build "cycling fitness" pretty quickly.

  3. #3
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    Agree ^ My endurance went up with the road bike. Also, I reduced my twitchiness and bike handling became better with the road bike. I did too much road bike at one point as my technical climbing and descending skills on the mtb got lost a bit. I'm more in balance now.

  4. #4
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    being in better shape is always faster than spending money on a bike... keep the road bike and train! good luck man!

  5. #5
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    Agree with everyone here. You should definitely keep your road bike. It builds endurance and you'll need that in XC races.

  6. #6
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    Make sure you still ride the mtb for training rides a bunch too. Road and mtb fitness are not the same. Clearly, there is a ton of overlap, but they are NOT the same.

  7. #7
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    I'll jump on the bandwagon and also say keep the road bike. MTB's really get hammered on, I don't think its a good idea to train on the same bike you intend to race.

    Also, like others have pointed out, nothing can replace road bike fitness, especially the base training it offers. A low end road bike is perfectly fine.

    Depending on your financial situation and what your bike is worth, you may want to think about selling your road frame and buying a cheap(er) steel frame that FITS for training.

  8. #8
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    Good suggestions all, thank you all very much. Glad I asked the question in this section, as I'm sure most here know from experience the benefits of having both bikes on hand...

    I'll add just to clarify that my road bike does fit as far as frame size goes, just needs some adjustments and a different saddle eventually. Realistically getting rid of it wouldn't make or break me as I'd only get a few hundred for it anyhow, and based on the responses it may be worth the few changes to get it right and keep using it for training.

    As far as the suggestions to keep riding my MTB - of course! During the week I have some shorter rides scheduled in my current base phase, which often will be on the trainer due to work, sometimes on the road, and here and there on the trails on the MTB. The longer weekend rides I am planning on splitting between road and trail until it gets closer to race time, at which point I will dedicate more time to the trails.

  9. #9
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    Here's an alternate course of action.

    Get another set of wheels for the MTB. Throw on some 28-30mm slicks. Do group rides, long rides on the road, etc.

    That way, you can dial in your fit, and make sure your body is getting a lot of miles on your bike in that position.
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  10. #10
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Here's an alternate course of action.

    Get another set of wheels for the MTB. Throw on some 28-30mm slicks. Do group rides, long rides on the road, etc.

    That way, you can dial in your fit, and make sure your body is getting a lot of miles on your bike in that position.
    Actually my original thought was halfway there - I already have a 26" wheel with a slick for the rear that I can throw on the trainer, I just would need a 10 speed cassette. But the idea of keeping the road bike for longer mileage isn't a bad thought either.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT5050 View Post
    Hi All,

    First a little background, I dabbled in some XC racing this year and found out that I:
    a.) Sucked (Not skill wise but fitness) and
    b.) It's truly something I want to try and push myself to improve at.
    Since you sucked fitness wise keep the road bike. It will get you fitness. If you had fitness, but lack tech skills I would say focus on the mtn bike. Road bikes are perfect to build fitness.

    I bought I use road bike for weekday fitness. I have 680 miles on the road bike and the only maintenance has been pumping up the tires (80-100psi tires can lose pressure over a week) and I lubed the chain. My mtn bike spends a lot more time in the workstand for 600 miles of riding. That is just due to the nature off-road riding. The place where the road bike pushes you is that you ride the flats hard, ride the hills hard and even the gentle descents get ridden hard. Very little coasting in road riding and most all the speed is determined by legs and lungs.
    Joe
    '12 Santa Cruz Highball 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", '06 Rocky Mtn Switch 26" XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  12. #12
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    keep it - having just started mtb'in back in sept '12 I neglected my roadie for a long time so that I could develop my technical ability, alas such treatment garnered jealousy from my roadbike and I can def tell I've slid back fitness wise (albeit now that I've gotten back on roadie a few times a week, holy moly do my legs feel stronger!)

  13. #13
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    I have a super cheap cyclocross bike that I use as a road bike. This bike gets no love and I have no desire to make it fancy. I don't race road.

    I ride my cross bike when the trails are too wet to ride or doing group rides on the road.

    I like having both. A mountainbike makes a pretty crappy road bike and I would rather spend more time riding then switching wheels and adjusting brakes.

    It also depends on how seriously you take training. In a forum post in the passion section a guy posted that "Riding a road bike a lot on the road bike to get good at mountain biking is like eating a lot of cauliflower to get good at eating pizza". I have a similar stance at this as well. My order of enjoyment is A. mountain biking and B. riding a bike and C. being outside

  14. #14
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    I just race xc and cx, I'm nearly done putting together a road bike so I can go on road rides with a couple of different friends for some workout variation. To echo everybody above, it's good to workout on both road and mtn.
    Also, fall racing preparation starts in December; I really think staying fit through the winter is extremely important.

  15. #15
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    Keep the road bike. I got one a few months ago to train with a local pro and my fitness has gone to another level. I just won my first 12 hour mtb race, and have found a new passion for road riding. I love riding road now. I just split my training between road and mtb to keep things in check.

  16. #16
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    I just race xc and cx, I'm nearly done putting together a road bike so I can go on road rides with a couple of different friends for some workout variation. To echo everybody above, it's good to workout on both road and mtn.
    Also, fall racing preparation starts in December; I really think staying fit through the winter is extremely important.
    Well this is going to really be my first season except for the races that I dabbled in. Since December, really November, I've been steadily improving. Now I'm focusing on more of an actual plan to make the time on the bike as efficient and effective as possible as I'm roughly 26 weeks out from my first race.

    But as my season starts in October, December is actually mid-season for me.

  17. #17
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    Whilst I never really enjoyed road riding like some the benefits are undeniable. Keep it, make the adjustments needed to make it comfortable and get to work on the fitness.
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  18. #18
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    Nothing ground breaking from me because I'm in complete agreement to keep the road bike. Here is my personal opinion from experience....

    I'm a dumb@ss and always had a "thing" about owning a road bike because I've been on a mtb since 7th grade, almost 25 years ago. I decided 1.5 years ago I wanted to be faster and the way that was going to happen was commit to doing a race series, thus forcing me to up my game. So I bought an extra set of wheels and put slick tires on them instead of buying a road bike. Some people might disagree but for me, riding the mtb on the road was only slightly enjoyable and as distances increased it became much less enjoyable.

    So last June I bought a road bike and instantly liked riding on the road. It was so much more efficient feeling, which made riding more enjoyable. I would be nowhere close to the condition I'm in now if I didn't have the road bike. Part of that is due to lack of trails and miles in my immediate area to mtb on. But, also when I'm crunched for time it's a lot faster hopping on the road bike and getting a ride in from my house then it is to go for a mtb ride.

    As your endurance improves, which it will as you get better, the road bike will be invaluable to have just to get long miles in that you might not be able to do on the mtb. It will also keep miles (wear and tear) off your mtb.
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  19. #19
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    Awesome feedback guys - you've talked me off the ledge. Great hearing the personal experiences too, really puts a perspective on things that I was perhaps missing in my initial impulse to have one bike do it all.

  20. #20
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    On a related note - you guys who have road bikes to train with but are mainly MTBers, do you have different shoes and road pedals? I am currently using MTB Shimano SPDs on my road bike and just use the same shoe as I do on the trails. Wondering if it would make any difference or any sense to buy a dedicated shoe/pedal combo.

  21. #21
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    To reinforce what I said previously:

    Get some road wheels/tires, throw them on your MTB, and hit the local group ride scene. Wednesday Worlds, weekend long rides, etc.

    I don't know why some people think it is impossible to do road miles on an MTB, but, to each is own.
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  22. #22
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    I don't think anyone said it was impossible to do road miles with the mtb, I clearly said that that is how I started out. But he already has the road bike, why spend money on a road set-up for his mtb when he already has a road bike?

    If he can keep up with road riders on his mtb than he is a lot farther along in his training than he realizes. When I tried going on 3 different rides with other people with road bikes and I had my mtb, I was a minimum of 2mph slower and they were out of contact really quickly. That was blowing myself up trying to stay with them.
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  23. #23
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    my 2 cents, i race cyclocross, mtb, road (in order of importance). most of my training is done on the road bike(70%), it is just so much more convienent and less time consuming to jump out my front door and get the necessary workout in. it is very important to train specifically on the bike your racing, just not all the time. with mtb the closer i get to my racing events the more time i spend riding my dirt bike and it helps. my body just cant take the abuse off road riding puts on it over and over again.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I don't think anyone said it was impossible to do road miles with the mtb, I clearly said that that is how I started out. But he already has the road bike, why spend money on a road set-up for his mtb when he already has a road bike?

    If he can keep up with road riders on his mtb than he is a lot farther along in his training than he realizes. When I tried going on 3 different rides with other people with road bikes and I had my mtb, I was a minimum of 2mph slower and they were out of contact really quickly. That was blowing myself up trying to stay with them.
    The point of riding his MTB with road wheels is so he can continue to dial in his position, and get used to hard efforts in THAT position. Not on his road bike. If you're racing MTB, why not always ride your MTB, but on different surfaces?

    There are pictures of Nino Schurter, and other WC pros, riding their MTBs with skinny tires all over the internet. I'm guessing there is something to that.

    If you can keep up with a spirited, hard road group ride, then attack. If you can attack, stay away, and make them catch you. Repeat as necessary. Realistically, there is neglible difference in rolling resistance between a 23mm tire and a 28mm tire. Bend your elbows, lean forward a bit, and you have 95% of the difference covered. After that, it's on you.
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  25. #25
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    Quote Originally Posted by GT5050 View Post
    On a related note - you guys who have road bikes to train with but are mainly MTBers, do you have different shoes and road pedals? I am currently using MTB Shimano SPDs on my road bike and just use the same shoe as I do on the trails. Wondering if it would make any difference or any sense to buy a dedicated shoe/pedal combo.
    Naw... You can use spd pedals and your same shoes and save some money.
    Keep the road bike. My local mtb loop is about 9 miles, I usually do about 2 or 3 laps before I go "meh" and decide to quit. With the road bike I pick a destination and go there, the thing is that once I'm there I have to come back, definitely a good way to work on endurance.

  26. #26
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    The point of riding his MTB with road wheels is so he can continue to dial in his position, and get used to hard efforts in THAT position. Not on his road bike. If you're racing MTB, why not always ride your MTB, but on different surfaces?
    Good points for sure, in fact this mirrors my initial train of thought. Besides working on me, the engine, I also want to get my fit dialed on my MTB before the season. That said, I think I'm going to keep the road bike, make some adjustments and make it work. BUT, I am going to eventually upgrade my MTB wheels anyway, and at that point I will probably keep my current wheels and equip it with slicks. I did this on my former mtb before I had a road bike, but I didn't embrace it as I wasn't really trying to train for anything. Then the road bike fell into my lap almost at the same time I got a new mtb and so this is where I'm at. I think once I get closer to race season, time on the road on the MTB may not be a bad thing. So I may just approach this from both angles eventually.

    Funny too, recently I came across a story of a dude who won a road race on his mtb - he was using the race as a training ride...I'll have to find it.

  27. #27
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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    I guess it's an older story, but anyway here it is:

    http://http://bikemagic.com/mountain...tain-bike.html

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT5050 View Post
    On a related note - you guys who have road bikes to train with but are mainly MTBers, do you have different shoes and road pedals? I am currently using MTB Shimano SPDs on my road bike and just use the same shoe as I do on the trails. Wondering if it would make any difference or any sense to buy a dedicated shoe/pedal combo.

    I use the same shoes on my road bike and similar pedals. Too much of a hassle to change pedals, but I use the SPD style. I use A520 SPD pedals.


    These are proper single sided road pedals with larger platform but work with standard SPD shoes and cleats.
    Joe
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    The point of riding his MTB with road wheels is so he can continue to dial in his position, and get used to hard efforts in THAT position. Not on his road bike. If you're racing MTB, why not always ride your MTB, but on different surfaces?
    Road biking build base endurance by being able to crank out long sustained efforts. Most mtn biking is very burst type riding where always need to react to terrain. Plus you can rest on the downhills where on a road bike you tend to pedal the downs and just go faster. Road biking cannot replace all mtb bike training, but is a great addition as it allow you to focus on increasing your fitness and is perfect for the days you can't get on the trails. Yesterday I did 19 miles on the road bike at an average of 19.7 mph. Just a quick road spin right out of house. Enjoyable and effective.
    Joe
    '12 Santa Cruz Highball 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", '06 Rocky Mtn Switch 26" XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    If you can keep up with a spirited, hard road group ride, then attack. If you can attack, stay away, and make them catch you. Repeat as necessary. Realistically, there is neglible difference in rolling resistance between a 23mm tire and a 28mm tire. Bend your elbows, lean forward a bit, and you have 95% of the difference covered. After that, it's on you.
    I disagree, no way a majority of people on a mtb are going to hang with a 18 - 20 mph pace road group and attack the road bike group. If you can, that's great.

    For me working at 75% - 85% I can easily ride the same route on my road bike a minimum of 2 mph faster/average than I could with my mtb at full effort.

    But again, that's just me. He already has a road bike, there's no reason to get rid of something that can help improve his endurance.
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    I like the road bike a lot. doing specific work out and long miles on the road bike are much more enjoyable than the MTB.

    Having a road bike will also mix it up a little bit. Unless money is a huge issue, I would keep the roadie. It is better for mental health to mix it up a little. I find that I have some specific friends that I do mtb rides with any other friends that I do road rides with.

  32. #32
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    Do you run at all OP?

    I know a lot off ppl do not think running helps with riding, however it will improve your overall fitness and provide a nice workout on your off days. I've been MTBing for years and bought a road bike to improve my fitness several years ago, but it wasn't until I spent a couple winters running that I had my biggest gains. (shaved 40 minutes off one of my race time this year vs the same race I did 5 yrs ago)

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    Train on MTB only or keep Roadie?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim_ View Post
    Do you run at all OP?

    I know a lot off ppl do not think running helps with riding, however it will improve your overall fitness and provide a nice workout on your off days. I've been MTBing for years and bought a road bike to improve my fitness several years ago, but it wasn't until I spent a couple winters running that I had my biggest gains. (shaved 40 minutes off one of my race time this year vs the same race I did 5 yrs ago)
    I did embrace running a few years ago and also noticed an overall increase in my performance. I travel a fair bit for work, so running is a go-to workout for me when I can't get on the bike. However, now I have the ability to take a bike with me more often than not. I'm also on a much more regimented bike schedule to get myself ready, so typically running will be light or only when I truly can't get on a bike...

  34. #34
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    Running is good for drastic cardio improvements. However all it will do is work the lungs. Road biking works the lungs and legs,. Mtn biking works lungs, legs and technical.

    I don't have any formal training plan, but I run, road ride and mtn ride. For me running helps basic cardio fitness and I mostly do that on vacation, trips or when time is really tight. The reason is that it is easy to travel with running shoes and shorts and a 40 minute run works you really really hard if you push. The downside to running is that it does not make your legs stronger and if you are fit you can run into leg issues before your lungs give out. I got to the point where I can run a 10k reasonablly well without pain or soreness, but this has taken time due to the different muscles uses.

    Road biking gets my lungs going and uses the same muscles as mtn bike. So that is good. The only downside to Mtn bike training is on trails your effort can be impacted by the trail. When riding roads you can control your effort much more rather having to match the effort to the trail.

    For example your race is going to a long 1 hour climb that can be hard to sustain on a trail given the ups and downs. However you can find a section of pavement where you try go hard for 1 hour for sustained constant effort. It could be a climb or just flat land max speed.
    Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT5050 View Post
    Good points for sure, in fact this mirrors my initial train of thought. Besides working on me, the engine, I also want to get my fit dialed on my MTB before the season. That said, I think I'm going to keep the road bike, make some adjustments and make it work. BUT, I am going to eventually upgrade my MTB wheels anyway, and at that point I will probably keep my current wheels and equip it with slicks.
    Even the slicks are optional. XC tires are OK for road training unless you're trying to push the envelope in corners. I train on my mountain-commuter bike on the road all the time with 2.0" XC tires. If you really want to boost your cruising speed, then before getting slicks, try resting your palms on your bar next to your stem. It channels air around your body. Recent result: Bike Ride Profile | Fast out-&-back on the mountain commuter. HRM mutiny! near Spokane | Times and Records | Strava Nearly 22mph average, solo, on a 35-pound mountain-commuter 26er with a trunk bag and dynamo lights, on XC tires. Rider aerodynamics is a big deal at road speeds.

    If you'll be doing group rides with roadies, however, it's time to bust out your road bike. Most XC bikes aren't geared for fast pedaling descents, plus you'll want to fit in with the group. So I concur, keep your road bike.

    Regarding cardio training, you might consider hill repeats. Like the guys said, XC riding isn't exactly steady-state... surge, recover, surge, recover. To train for that, I'd go attack nearby hills with ~400-500ft vertical, either on-road or off-road.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    If you can keep up with a spirited, hard road group ride, then attack. If you can attack, stay away, and make them catch you. Repeat as necessary. Realistically, there is neglible difference in rolling resistance between a 23mm tire and a 28mm tire. Bend your elbows, lean forward a bit, and you have 95% of the difference covered. After that, it's on you.
    If you're riding a mtn bike with people of similar fitness you're not getting away from them. You'd have to be way stronger than them to even think about attacking. Now if you're riding with scrubs...

    and even if you're stronger eventually you're going to run out of gears. I've done it. It sucks riding in an echelon and always trying to shift up a gear ... but you don't have any more gears.

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    39x11, on 29x2.0s, at 100rpm is 30.5mph...

    If you're strong both tactically and physically, and hit them when your bike isn't a huge disadvantage (going uphill), and then tack on to the people you drag off the front, yes, it can be done.

    But, I'll admit I was a "Pro" MTB/Cat1 roadie amongst a group of mostly road 3s, with a female road pro along for the ride. So, the strongest guy there, but a 65kg doesn't exactly power away from a large group of people, solo, on the flats and rolling hills of IL.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    If you're riding a mtn bike with people of similar fitness you're not getting away from them. You'd have to be way stronger than them to even think about attacking. Now if you're riding with scrubs...

    and even if you're stronger eventually you're going to run out of gears. I've done it. It sucks riding in an echelon and always trying to shift up a gear ... but you don't have any more gears.
    I disagree wholeheartedly. I used to race Wednesday Worlds in central IL with a group that included the masters road, crit, and TT state champions (two different dudes), and a smattering of 1s, 2s, 3s, and newer guys like myself. My second time out there, after less than a month on the bike, I was launching attacks off the front. I knew I was doomed, by I wanted to see how long I could last. And, every time it kept lasting longer and longer. Eventually, people notice, and they decide to go with you.

    You don't get stronger by never testing your limits. Same thing with learning how to start, and riding in a break. If I operated with that attitude, I'd still be pack fodder in the 3s. A group ride or casual racing environment is just the place for learning your limits, expanding them, and learning how to ride/race within them.
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  39. #39
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    I know and I also know that most people aren't comfortable spinning their cranks that fast for very long. They'd prefer to shift up one gear.

    It absolutely can be done (I've done it/do it all the time) but you're at a disadvantage and you have to be way better than everyone else to get away.

    and yes, hurt them on the hills.

  40. #40
    Formerly of Kent
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    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    I know and I also know that most people aren't comfortable spinning their cranks that fast for very long. They'd prefer to shift up one gear.

    It absolutely can be done (I've done it/do it all the time) but you're at a disadvantage and you have to be way better than everyone else to get away.

    and yes, hurt them on the hills.
    Bear in mind, I came to MTB from road racing. I was a 2 on the road, with some track experience, before I ever threw a leg over a decent MTB. MTB seems to have dropped my "comfort" range, and 75-85 is what I do now, but it was 90-100 when I was purely a roadie. One GREAT reason to take your MTB on a group ride is just that: undergeared training. You get used to pedaling at a cadence outside of your normal sweet spot. Pretty useful tool to have in your proverbial rucksack, particularly on technical uphills. I find I stall out a lot less when I can maintain a high cadence going up chunky areas.
    Death from Below.
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  41. #41
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    It's funny you disagree with everything I'm saying but I agree with you. :P

    I say it absolutely can be done if you're awesome and riding with less than awesome people. You're going to suffer big time or even get dropped if you're on a mtn.bike with a group of roadies with similar fitness.

    YOU did well because you're fit. Most people would get thrashed on the road.

  42. #42
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    I have an older Hardrock 29-er that I put 35c's on. That is my main "road bike" right now. My actual roadie, a Trek 1.5, has not had a leg thrown over it in about 6-months. My race bike is a HiFi.

    During the last charity ride I did, there were sections where I was cranking out 20-24mph for extended periods on the Hardrock. I constantly ran away from my friend who was on a Roubaix. I'm planning on getting some smaller tires to aid in the rolling resistance. Then again, I ride this bike to push me to ride harder, not to run away from others. If I can pace a roadie, I think I am doing pretty good.
    GF/Trek HiFi | Hardrock Sport Disc 29er
    If you don't eat **** every now and again, you aren't riding hard enough!

  43. #43
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    Well, I guess that helps to clear things up for the OP. Unless your already a pro mtb rider and can keep up with Cat 3 road riders on their 100 mile training rides using your mtb. Keep the road bike and ride it on the road.
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  44. #44
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    I haven't had a road bike for about a year, and did very little road in the past 15 years, but I've been riding a lot of trails in the last 1.75 years. I just got a new/used road bike sorted out, and did two road rides yesterday, about 50 min each, out and back to a family bbq (my family took the car I took the bike, a good way to sneak in a couple of workouts). My legs are a good tired today, like stated above the rest periods are much less frequent on the road bike, I think mixing in some road rides is really going to benefit me for xc racing.
    It was a little rainy, and the roads were wet, it was about 60deg. I really enjoyed the road ride, more than I had expected to.

    (side story) I was climbing in a sharp turn, kind of a narrow spot to be passed by a car, I heard what sort of sounded like a motorcycle coming up behind, and a guy I'm aquainted with passed (nice and wide, lots of room) in his tricked out Audi R8, he was out showing off the car to a friend. Further up the wet hill, he came back down, U-turned to climb the hill again, after he passed me he got on the throttle a couple of times, breaking the tires loose really easily, -super cool car. I'm kind of a sports car guy too, so that was fun to see from that vantage point.

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