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  1. #1
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    Century training ... does MTB time count?

    Hey folks, I'm ramping up for the Death Valley Century on 11/2. This will unfortunately be my only full century this season () although I've done a couple metric centuries this spring/summer. I bike-commute a lot and will be ramping up more, to 100-120 miles a week (or more) for the next few weeks. I've done centuries in the past and have a good feel for the training situation overall.

    My question is this: can I substitute mountain bike time for road bike training time? Is time in the saddle the determing factor in training or is it really miles?

    I'd hate to have to back off my MTBing fun because it's such a welcome change considering that bike-commuting and road biking are so similar. And the weekend is the only time I can MTB, and to do a long ride on my roadie, while definitely a blast, will force me to forego my time with my MTB buds.

    Thoughts? Thanks all.

  2. #2
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Yes! 20 miles mtn biking is worth 50 miles on the road! At least, thats what it feels like to me...

  3. #3
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Too much emphasis is placed on miles, and too little on time in the saddle. So, if you are planning to ride 3 or 4 hours in preparation for your century, riding the MTB or road bike may not matter.

    However, 3 hours on an MTB can be very strenuous as the upper body gets involved, too. Your legs and heart may be up to 3 hours, but your back, shoulders and arms may not be up to the same length and intensity as your legs.

    Secondly, I like to spin at around 100 to 105 rpm on the road bike, but I'm more of a masher in the woods on the MTB. I find that after a week of only MTB riding it takes a ride or two to get my cadence back up and my pedal stroke "round" again on the road bike.

    If you can spend enough time in the saddle of your MTB you can get ready for a long road ride, but I would use the road bike for your long days and the MTB for shorter rides after work.

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    Thanks for responses, guys. WoodyUpstate, what you suggest sounds good but I was hoping to preserve my weekend long ride for the MTB.

    Dang. But it does make sense that you have to train specifically for the event your training for.

    Thanks for responses.

  5. #5
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    well, Andy, i think in general most of the MTB training should cross-over pretty well...

    but, for optimal performance you'd be better off putting in more miles on the road (although on the MTB on the road should make less difference)... for example, most of the pro XC racers these days do a large majority of their training on the road.

    i am primarily an XC rider, but i do some road racing (mostly crits) and there is a big difference in the course and characteristics. in a road race you ride at a sustained pace for long periods of time with an occaisonal jump during and attack or a hill-climb and an occaisonal rest on a downhill. in most XC you swing a lot more from major power acceleration out of a corner and up a climb and then can (comparatively) rest those legs for a downhill or a technical section.

    so, in general, the fitness should cross over and the saddle time is probably the most important. so the question is how well you want to do? if you just want to ride strong and finish then no problem... if you want to be competitive, you better spend at least one day a week on a long (preferably small group) road ride.

    like almost any sport: cross-training almost always provides some benefit as long as it doesn't contribute to overtraining or detract from you main-sport training, but with the exception of weight training for some sports (cycling is debatable) there is usually no substitute for the real thing...

    as an XC rider, when i get out on the road bike, i have no problem on the hills and the sprints, but i do get really winded and have to work much too hard on the flats and long sustained sections (therefore, i try and draft ALL the time) b/c i am not used to training for long continuous mid-level power output without and recovery sections like i'm used to in XC...
    why drive when you can ride?
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