Marathon training NOT on the road- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Marathon training NOT on the road

    Who feels training on the road bike is necessary to be competitive? Who thinks you can ride the mountain bike only and still be in the front half of the pack?

    I'm a long time mountain biker that just got serious about endurance racing in the past year. I started doing most of my training on the road last spring, and I can tell my fitness has improved drastically. But after numerous close calls, and with several cyclists being hit and killed in my area in the past year, I am leaning towards getting rid of the road bike.

    Do you think you need the steady state training that road riding gives you, or can you make that up with time on the trails? I cant sit on the trainer for more than an hour so that's out for me.

  2. #2
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    Gravel. All of the training benefit. 1/10 the cars.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_riddler View Post
    ...I cant sit on the trainer for more than an hour so that's out for me.

    you can, you just don't want to.

  4. #4
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    Iím riding more gravel for the same reason. Interested to hear peoples thoughts.


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  5. #5
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    I also have given up on the road thing after too many close calls. I don't have much gravel in my area, so I have been on the trainer following a Trainer Road plan all winter. I am no stranger to riding the trainer or rollers all winter but this is the 1st winter following a structured plan. I have yet to test it out but thus far I like it and think TR will become the backbone of all my training. It is very time efficient which is huge!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    you can, you just don't want to.
    I really canít. Iv got TrainerRoad and do enjoy it at times, but I go numb after about an hour.

    Gravel is sweet! I just raced the Bootlegger this past weekend. But at 45-ish minutes away itís definitely not a daily experience. Maybe you could interval train on the mtb through the week and do your long stuff on gravel on the weekends? I bet you could build a solid plan off of that.

  7. #7
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    Sorry if that sounded obnoxious. going numb does point to a fit issue though (could be as simple as the wrong saddle or height or shit, any number of things).

    I do most of what you're alluding too - intervals during the week on mtb (usually) and tend to do most of my long stuff (in the early season until the high country opens) on gravel and pavement. Mostly because I believe putting in bigger efforts on the flats is a pretty big mental game. It's (somewhat) easy to put out 10 - 30 min efforts uphill as there is usually no respite and you simply have to do tempo or higher to get wherever you're headed. On the flats though it's all about willpower and churning out sweet spot or LT for whatever duration requires staying on top of your cadence/gearing. I'll often ride my hard tail (2x w/ 38/26 chainrings) on the road if I need to re-acclimate.

    Trainers offer (IMO) a similar experience. It's hard and not particularly fun but I'd wager it'll make you a stronger rider.

    I'm a pretty mediocre climber (typically top half to maaaaaaaaaaaybe top third) so I use that "roadie power" to make up ground on flats and false flats.

    edited for rambling so hopefully it's still coherent

  8. #8
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    Is there a reason you can't stand up on the trainer? I usually do my indoor intervals by alternating in and out of the saddle.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    you can, you just don't want to.




    /\/\/\ This. The mental fortitude developed by spending hour after hour on a trainer is preparation for the real tough stuff that awaits you in actual racing.
    "These things are very fancy commuter bikes or really bad dirt bikes, but they are not mountain bikes." - J. Mac

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    /\/\/\ This. The mental fortitude developed by spending hour after hour on a trainer is preparation for the real tough stuff that awaits you in actual racing.
    So are yíall saying you do big multi-hour efforts on the trainer? Or are you doing sweet spot work?

  11. #11
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    Depends on what competitive means to you and which skill/class your in. Generally speaking I think so. I know a number of competitive local expert level riders that spend little to no time on the road. I think you will find that your strengths will shift and generally not loose to much speed overall. As you start to get to the top half of the Open/Pro field it becomes more difficult to remain competitive.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_riddler View Post
    So are yíall saying you do big multi-hour efforts on the trainer? Or are you doing sweet spot work?



    Up to fours hours on the trainer. It builds mental toughness cause riding the trainer sucks as everyone can attest.
    "These things are very fancy commuter bikes or really bad dirt bikes, but they are not mountain bikes." - J. Mac

  13. #13
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    You can totally be in the front half of the pack by only riding your mtb. I dont trust people in cars, never really did, but its even worse now with all the texting.. I havent touched a road bike or trainer in years and Im always in the top 1/3 or better.. Plus single track is way more fun than pavement or a trainer.. And to me thats all its about anyway..

  14. #14
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    I may throw my mountain bike on the trainer and see if i have the same numbness issues after an hour. The trainer seems like a viable option and I can appreciate the "mental fortitude" argument.

  15. #15
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    I have trained quite a bit on a trainer and rollers for XCM races. I don't think you need to spend more than 1 - 1.5 hours on a trainer to get a great session in. I wouldn't use the trainer to just sit and spin for endurance, that makes it boring real quick. Make an interval plan to work on Z's 4-5. Pyramids are one of my favorites. Intensity is your friend when you ride inside.

    Spend your long days outside on the trail if possible.

    For training indoors, make sure you have a huge fan. Overheating is REALLY easy without one. Keep your expensive MTB tires off the trainer, they are too noisy anyways. If you must work on endurance inside, I feel that rollers are better suited for that purpose as there is some freedom of movement that can help mimic real road riding.
    My bikes are faster than me.

  16. #16
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    Depends so much on what your mtb options are. I can mix in all the gravel road climbs I want in my local single track area, so wouldn't need to train one second on the road.

    I ride my road bike less every year for the reasons others have noted above.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  17. #17
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    I spend most of my training on the road now, and see the bennies big time.

    I've also learned to handle the trainer for a few hours and fill it with meaningful workouts.
    The only important thing these days, is rhythm and melody. Rhythm...and melody.

  18. #18
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    Agree, benefits from being on the road for sure are hard to get on the MTB. Really, the combination of the two does a lot for overall fitness.

    But I live in a fairly small town, close to rural roads with low traffic, and hills that are perfect for road training, almost outside my door. If you live in a large city, or an area with high traffic that scares you, I don't blame you at all for not wanting to ride on the road. Not for one second. But if you can drive 10-20 miles for a mountain bike ride, and can somehow drive 10-20 miles to get to an area to ride the road bike safely, try it. If that still has traffic that spells danger, by all means skip it. Risking your life is not worth getting in road miles.

    I too would rather ride in the worst weather on the worst roads than on a trainer. Also, there are benefits from riding in all conditions that prepare you for the real world, mentally, and physically. Though I suppose you could ride your trainer outside in the winter storms and get some of that too.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rider51 View Post
    I too would rather ride in the worst weather on the worst roads than on a trainer. Also, there are benefits from riding in all conditions that prepare you for the real world, mentally, and physically. Though I suppose you could ride your trainer outside in the winter storms and get some of that too.
    +100
    Whining is not a strategy.

  20. #20
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    My road bike now spends about 90% of its time on a CycleOps Hammer. Before that, on a regular mag/fluid trainer, I would go crazy in about 15 minutes. Now an hour or 90 minutes passes by so fast, but that's my limit. So I break the "ride" up into two sessions. I can work on my climbing from the back door (surrounded by hundreds of miles within seconds), but the roadie flat power I obviously lack gets accomplished on the Hammer. So much time is saved. Everything is in the room, no stopping, coasting, close calls, music or videos so much easier, etc.

    In my opinion it all comes down to Needs vs Wants.... situated firmly on a foundation of the cliche "where there's a will, there's a way."

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin View Post
    ...So much time is saved. Everything is in the room, no stopping, coasting, close calls, music or videos so much easier, etc
    this ^^

    i do my during the week interval rides of 1-2.5hrs on the trainer. with no stop signs, traffic, weather, etc you can nail your intervals perfectly for time and intensity and isnt high intensity training all about the quality?

    the "i hate the trainer...i do all my rides outside no matter what" guys aren't the fast ones in my group.

  22. #22
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    Marathon training NOT on the road

    This is the first year I spent any structured time on a Trainer (wahoo + trainer road). I had been the guy riding outdoors in the worst weather all winter.

    Pros: my fitness benefitted from the structure and consistency immensely. Itís efficient during the week and low hassle. I can get home from work and get a really productive hour in regardless of weather. I only have so much discipline when it comes to riding in damp cold dark winter weather. And the training app takes the thinking out of it; no matter how fried my brain is in the evening, I can just get on and train with no bike prep. I ride a tandem with my wife and she also did TR this winter...we are already up to 50-60 mile rides in hilly terrain (90ft/mile) and doing the long hill segments 20% faster than at the end of last season. So yeah, it works.

    The downside: as realistic as the new trainers are, it still isnít the same feel as what varied hilly terrain will throw at you. You still need to build up your attention span and nutrition strategy for long rides outdoors. Also, for whatever reason, I didnít lose any weight on the trainer even though my fitness went way up. And, Iíve been training since January and I am reaching my limit for the trainer. But itís still been a godsend because the weather has been Terrible this spring, leaving the trails way too muddy.

    So in sum, unless you live somewhere with great weather and lots of great unpaved terrain, and have lots of time, the trainer is your friend. I plant to ride outdoors as much as possible at this point in the year, but the trainer will be there for bad weather and busy days at work. Trainer during the week, maybe a night ride, then looong gravel/road/trail on the weekends.


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