Mountain biking and road cycling may appear to be completely different, with one being on rough terrain and the other on smooth roads, many cyclists ask the question: Does mountain biking help road cycling? This article explores the benefits of mountain biking for road cycling and explain how these two activities can complement each other to improve your overall cycling experience.
Does Mountain Biking Help Road Cycling?
By incorporating mountain biking into their training routine, road cyclists can improve their overall strength, stamina, and bike handling skills needed for high performance.
#1- Mountain Biking IMPROVES Bike-Handling Skills for Road Cycling
Mountain biking is not only an adventure sport but also a great way to improve your bike handling skills for road cycling.
It helps develop quick reflexes and trains riders to handle rough terrain. These skills are transferrable to road biking, especially when it comes to navigating through unexpected road obstacles.
Moreover, the technical aspects of mountain biking such as downhill turns, switchbacks, and jumps are also useful on the road.
#2- Basic MTB Skills Translate to Road Cycling
It is essential to understand that these two disciplines (Mountain biking and road cycling) may seem different, but the transfer of fitness is seamless.
Mountain biking requires a high power-to-weight ratio and the ability to keep your heart rate and oxygen uptake, both of which are valuable on high-speed descents in road cycling.
Even more, advanced mountain bike skills such as bunny hopping can be useful for hopping a kerb with ease.
Mountain biking’s ability to improve a rider’s bike-handling skills on varied terrain is undeniable. The technical nature of mountain biking forces riders to develop quick reflexes and adapt to changing conditions. This translates well to road cycling, where sudden obstacles like potholes or debris can be challenging to navigate.
In addition, the wider tires and aggressive treads on mountain bikes provide increased traction on uneven surfaces, making handling easier and more intuitive. This increased control transfers seamlessly to road cycling and helps riders feel more confident and in control.
Overall, the varied terrain of mountain biking can be an excellent training ground for developing the skills and confidence needed to tackle any road cycling challenge.
#3- Pedaling Technique Benefits from MTB Riding
Mountain bikers have a smoother pedaling stroke because they don’t always have the traction to just stand up and crank it out.
The varied terrain of mountain biking and the need to maintain control while pedaling can help riders develop a more efficient and effective technique.
This can translate to improved speed and endurance when transferring back to the road bike.
So, while mountain biking can’t fully replicate the effort needed for long, sustained road cycling, it can still offer great benefits for those looking to improve their pedaling technique for both on and off-road riding.
#4- MTB Increases Fitness Level for Road Cycling
Training off-road increases heart rate by 5-10bpm throughout the ride, utilizing the upper body more than road biking.
Furthermore, the exercise of riding decreases cortisol, which reduces stress and enhances recovery time after a ride.
Being an outdoor activity, mountain biking exposes riders to daylight, making it an easy way to achieve physical activity guidelines.
By increasing training time on your bike over time, there is an associated improvement in cardiovascular fitness, as well as improved lung capacity, blood flow, endurance, efficiency, and fat burn.
Additionally, mountain biking targets muscles in the lower body, particularly the quads and glutes, while also toning calves and hamstrings.
#5- Downhill MTB Performance Transfers to Road Cycling
Downhill MTB riding requires quick reactions, good judgment, and excellent control of the bike. These same skills are necessary when descending steep hills on a road bike.
By practicing downhill MTB riding, road cyclists can become more comfortable with handling high speeds and steep descents. This translates into greater confidence and superior performance when riding on hilly terrain during road cycling.
Improvements in technique, control, and speed all culminate in a more polished and effective ride on the road.
#6- Dynamic Muscle Contractions in MTB Benefit Road Cyclists
The eccentric muscle contractions required while off-road cycling helps improve shock attenuation, which translates to better endurance and sustained muscle contractions.
This is especially useful during road cycling races that require the rider to have high cardiovascular fitness and power output.
Moreover, isometric muscle contractions during MTB biking can increase the heart rate response to submaximal cycling without any increase in energy expenditure.
This technique of contracting muscles can be a valuable addition to a road cyclist’s training regime as it effectively boosts muscle strength, and facilitates better pedaling technique on varied terrain.
#7- MTB’s Gradients Build Short Burst Strength for Road Cycling
Mountain biking requires short bursts of intense effort when tackling steep climbs and technical terrain.
These repeated efforts help develop the fast twitch muscles needed for quick accelerations and breakthroughs on the road.
Additionally, the varying terrain on a mountain bike ride helps to train the body to handle changes in resistance and develop the ability to shift gears quickly.
Road cycling covers more distance, but mountain biking builds the skills necessary for quick, explosive efforts on the road.