As I come back from knee surgery, I have been doing more cycling than I have running. Truth be told, it wasn’t until recently that I was able to run at all. So in 2016, I won’t be racing much triathlon, so I will be doing more cycling events, including the Austin Rattler Mountain Bike Race in April. That has me on the mountain bike a lot more these days. That reminded me of an article I wrote some time ago about the benefits of getting on the mountain bike and hitting the trails.
Triathletes with the option to ride their road bike usually embrace that opportunity. Other athletes get stuck in a rut doing miles and miles in aero on the tri bike thinking that it’s really the only way to get effective cycling workouts done. While it is critically important to get the triathlon specific work in, I have found that riding my mountain bike, especially in the off season, can offer some significant benefits. Here are a few of the benefits of hopping on the knobby wheeled bike…
The mountain bike will make you stronger
The cadence is generally lower on the mountain bike. The combination of the difference in the weight of the bike and the terrain require more strength to get around the course you’re riding, even at lower speeds. Like an interval workout on the road or tri bike, this kind of riding can and will make you stronger.
The mountain bike will improve your awareness on the bike
The course is always changing. There are trees to avoid. There are fast downhills that transition quickly to fast uphills, sometimes with a sharp turn. There are so many examples of these kinds of things when mountain biking. The more I have been mountain biking, better I pay attention when I am riding on the road because you have to be focused on the mountain bike. While focus is very important on the road bike, it’s easy to get caught up in the striped line in the road and just keep hammering. This is how bad things can happen.
The mountain bike will improve your bike handling
The terrain on the course can change when mountain biking. You may hit some mud or sand. There may be some big roots running across the course. These things are typically a part of the MTB course each time you ride it. This is similar to when there is debris or a pot hole or a crack on the road except that those things tend to sneak up on us. When they do, I find that I am able to handle the bike better in those situations to avoid them when I have been on the mountain bike.
Dust off the road bike and go get dirty. It’s a fun way to get a great workout in. Call a friend or 5 and make it a social thing. Have a blast and enjoy not having to deal with stop lights and people in their cars texting their friends.