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Training with a mountain bike

Living in (reasonably) central London it's a real effort for me to get out to a decent cycle route. Getting to a useful start point & back takes at least an hour so going for a decent cycle on top of that just takes too much time out of my family time. Regents Park laps do my head in and Richmond is 35 mins away, and trains are unreliable.

However, I live very near the Regents Canal at Kensal Rise / Ladbroke Grove which is a flat, rough track that loops all the way out north & west of London before I have the choice of continuing on towards Oxford, looping back to Brentford, or just turning back and cycling home.

To do this I bought a low/mid range mountain bike as the surface is just too rough for my commuting bike and, hey, one can't have enough bikes. My missus made me give up my gym membership in exchange!

So, every Sunday morning I now do a 45-50k spin on my MTB. This takes 2 hours - quite a bit slower than my road bike times, but I suspect this is justified by heavier bike, rough surface, thicker tyres and less aero. I don't take a HRM with me but on a Rate of Perceived Exertion measure I think it's at least on a par with a 2 hour spin on flattish roads on my road bike.

My questions are:

How useful is doing this on a weekly basis? I suspect it's very useful as the "cross training" part of a running programme, but am I also improving / maintaining my general cycle fitness with a view to OD triathlons on a proper road bike? The riding position is certainly very different.


  • PC_67PC_67 Posts: 196
    Thanks. A fellow tri-er is a MTB convert and swears by how much fun hitting proper trails is, as well as how good a workout it is for both lower and upper body. I think I'll make a point of heading down to the forest he's always going on about.
  • jamewahjamewah Posts: 113
    I do a 18km commute on my mtb and occasionally mix in a few trails on the way as well.
    I do the majority of my training on this bike and just before a race i will use my race bike just to familiarise myself with it.
    I think this has been the secret to my most successful year to date, using a heavy 12 year old bike with more rolling resistance on the tyres built up additional power in my legs.
    When it came to my first OD this year I was flying past others and for the first time posted a sub 1hr bike split (and i even crashed on a tight corner and had to re mount)

    so i say yes, absolutely, it does benefit.
  • QuitterQuitter Posts: 160
    Conehead wrote:
    smashing up 30km on the trails will not only increase your fitness but go a long way to helping the appalling bike handling skills we triathletes have.

    Anyone that thinks they're 'good' on a road bike go out with some expert MTBers and you'll soon realise how shit we (age group triathletes) are.
    jamewah wrote:
    (and i even crashed on a tight corner and had to re mount)

    so i say yes, absolutely, it does benefit.

    Does that reinforce your point or disprove it!

    Fully agree with the mix and match approach.
    No different to having a run in the woods to make a change from pounding along the roads.
    I like to think it helps tho i do it just as a change.
  • jamewahjamewah Posts: 113

    I see where your coming from, no it had pissed it down the night before and it was a damp corner under some tree's.
    I was on slicks and going in far too hot, did an ace 2 wheel drift until the kerb stones high sided me, got a wicked scar as a momento
  • PC_67PC_67 Posts: 196
    Thanks. Tomorrow am I'm gonna head east along the Regents Canal out towards Victoria Park and then head north along the River Lee (Lea?) until I get lost. I kind of figured it'd be good for my bike fitness, but I was also thrown a bit by other comments on this forum about different bikes & set ups engaging your muscles differently, reducing the effectiveness of the training.
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