This is the first year that I have owned a mountain bike. I’m pretty surprised how certain techniques and skills seem a little more fluid or take less time to react as to when I was just road cycling by itself.
- Handling Skills This is a given. Mountain biking involves paths and trails a lot tighter than the streets utilized in road cycling. You are capable of maneuvering your bike around in a more dynamic fashion.
- Opportunity Windows With mountain biking in West Virginia, there is a trail sometimes even in your own back yard or less than five miles away. With the shorter distance, you are more willing to go out for a mere 45 minutes or so… The opportunities capable of being taken for mountain biking are easier to use than when preparing for a road cycling ride that you may start planning for the next day since it will be a three hour ride. Its okay to go out for just thirty minutes, if need be.
- Pedaling Skills I’ll quote Horrible Hundred only because he said it easier than I could have:
Mountain bike riders are often climbing in loose conditions. If a rider has oscillations in power at the rear wheel, the rear tire tends to break loose and spin out. This is similar to punching the gas pedal of your car in icy conditions; it causes the tires to lose traction on the slick surface. Riding, particularly climbing, in loose conditions on your mountain bike is an effective tool to improve your pedaling mechanics.
- Short Sprints MTB’ing is full of five – to – fifty foot hills that need to be sprinted while in the saddle to keep traction. This builds explosive capabilities for road cycling for the attempt of catching someone who is trying to break away, or to get over the last section of a really long incline.
- Reaction Time Your eyes are constantly scanning the ground for rocks, roots, creatures, and pointy things that will thrash your bike or yourself. This will hopefully help you decrease those flats due to rocks or ruining your bike by running over a squirrel or hitting a pothole.
- Power Intervals Once again terrain difference in the two genres of cycling are crazily different. MTB’ing can have five steep ass hills in a quarter mile, and these are the perfect sprint and or power interval equivalents in road cycling.
- Relying on Your Senses I don’t know many people who use cycling computer equipment when they go MTB’ing. Without the gadgets, you learn to pace yourself without your little screen telling you what to do. This just might be the most vital skill gained from MTB’ing.
- Manipulating your Weight Whether it is moving your body weight around the bike when going up or down hills, taking really tight turns, or even avoiding other riders, the instances and intensity of throwing your body around for better manuvering happens exponentially more on your MTB, and with a little bit of autonomy and adaptation… these skills can gain you a few seconds in a race on your road bike.
- Appreciating your Scenery Being in the woods surrounded by the flora and fauna can some times be captivating. Going at a relatively slower speed than you go on the road bike, you can take it in a bit easier to appreciate. I’m not saying slow your roll on your next club ride, but try to pay as much attention to your surroundings for the purpose of enjoyment as you do on your MTB.
- Speed You almost forget how easy it is to hit 20mph once you get back on your road bike. People never believe in the saying about the grass is always greener, but oh man… it is so true this time. MTB’ing makes you appreciate the thrills of 50mph descents so much more than the way you felt last year mid-season.
Don’t forget that wvcycling’s freebie contest ends Feb 1st