Different bikes, riding & fitness

Chriso_29er

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Hey All,

Been a bit of discussion in other threads about different types of riding and bikes and how they may affect fitness.
Wanted to give my opinion and thought it might be a topic many might find interesting or have some input.

IMO it is not the bike you're riding but the type of riding on that bike which has the biggest effect on how your body responds to the riding.
For me the best approach is a good mix of different types of riding.

For example I find a 2hr single trail ride very different to a 2hr dirt road or gravel ride even if on the same bike.
The trail ride gives the full body a workout, where less demanding riding such as road or gravel really focuses on your legs and cardio.

True MTB riding, even if a XC type ride still involves a lot of coasting or pedal brakes for corners, pumping etc so you never get that same constant leg power thing going on like you do on a dirt road or non tech climb.
But on the other hand, single trail is great as it forces you into more situations where you need short sharp power for building strength.

Less demanding road, path or gravel riding regardless of what bike its done on, is IMO a great complement to MTB as I find its the best way to build true bike fitness (to move the bike forwards) if you have limited time. Off-bike exercise can make up for the rest so you don't tire out in the upper body too quick once you do get on the trails. Having the legs makes my trail riding much more enjoyable. So with the limited time I've got I like to do rides that focus just on them too, even if not as fun as being out on the trails.

Of course, none of this will make going for a long gravel ride enjoyable on a Enduro bike, but thought I'd put it out there :)

Let me know what you think, what do you find the most effective during the different types of rides and bikes available to you. What fitness benefit do you find the most useful, bike-fit legs or overall fitness from trail riding?
 

DMan

shawly the least hangeriest guy on rotorburn
Hey All,

Been a bit of discussion in other threads about different types of riding and bikes and how they may affect fitness.
Wanted to give my opinion and thought it might be a topic many might find interesting or have some input.

IMO it is not the bike you're riding but the type of riding on that bike which has the biggest effect on how your body responds to the riding.
For me the best approach is a good mix of different types of riding.

For example I find a 2hr single trail ride very different to a 2hr dirt road or gravel ride even if on the same bike.
The trail ride gives the full body a workout, where less demanding riding such as road or gravel really focuses on your legs and cardio.

True MTB riding, even if a XC type ride still involves a lot of coasting or pedal brakes for corners, pumping etc so you never get that same constant leg power thing going on like you do on a dirt road or non tech climb.
But on the other hand, single trail is great as it forces you into more situations where you need short sharp power for building strength.

Less demanding road, path or gravel riding regardless of what bike its done on, is IMO a great complement to MTB as I find its the best way to build true bike fitness (to move the bike forwards) if you have limited time. Off-bike exercise can make up for the rest so you don't tire out in the upper body too quick once you do get on the trails. Having the legs makes my trail riding much more enjoyable. So with the limited time I've got I like to do rides that focus just on them too, even if not as fun as being out on the trails.

Of course, none of this will make going for a long gravel ride enjoyable on a Enduro bike, but thought I'd put it out there :)

Let me know what you think, what do you find the most effective during the different types of rides and bikes available to you. What fitness benefit do you find the most useful, bike-fit legs or overall fitness from trail riding?
It's definitely both for me. I did the 55km Epic pursuit last Sunday and the overall fitness got me through the fact that the temp was 35c coming from 20c rides here at home, but the leg fitness got me through the hills. I really watched my pace and although I didn't cramp this year I still got twinges (There were riders dropping like flies due to cramping). So the long gravel/ road style rides I do helped in one part, probably the endurance style fitness, but the mtb sketchy climbing rides I also do were paramount to getting me through the hills. I find I can do much more climbing on a gravel ride as most of the time the climbing is much more constant. I need the single track climbing to build my legs up for the pinchy, skatey shit climbing that was what the Epic was about. Make sense?
 

Plankosaurus

Spongeplank Dalepants
One thing that surprised me was the first time I came out of winter after having a trainer. I felt strong, had been spinning my legs much more frequently than I usually did over the miserable months, and thought I was going to come out strong.

I wasn't wrong, but the sort of strong wasn't what I was used to. I'd been spinning at my comfortable cadence and increasing my power in the sweet spot, but my low cadence work had been non existent so I struggled a lot with steep or techy climbs the first couple of rides. The quizzical look on my face as I started wheezing on climbs I figured would be easy would have been comical for sure



And I know it's a no-brainer, but singlespeeding increases your fitness for all other modes. Crank mashing torque is definitely the biggest increase, but you get a solid core and arm workout from it and the inability to change to a comfy gear has you spinning faster and slower than you'd like all the time. If fitness is the goal, Singlespeed is a tough one to beat for getting it up there fast.

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Chriso_29er

Likes Bikes and Dirt
It's definitely both for me. I did the 55km Epic pursuit last Sunday and the overall fitness got me through the fact that the temp was 35c coming from 20c rides here at home, but the leg fitness got me through the hills. I really watched my pace and although I didn't cramp this year I still got twinges (There were riders dropping like flies due to cramping). So the long gravel/ road style rides I do helped in one part, probably the endurance style fitness, but the mtb sketchy climbing rides I also do were paramount to getting me through the hills. I find I can do much more climbing on a gravel ride as most of the time the climbing is much more constant. I need the single track climbing to build my legs up for the pinchy, skatey shit climbing that was what the Epic was about. Make sense?
Makes sense. A big ride like that is a whole different situation again hey. Wouldn't get it done without the legs but you would also be in all sorts of trouble without upper body endurance as well.
 

SummitFever

Eats Squid
For pure fitness I don't think the type of bike or riding matters much if you're not doing "junk miles". Volume and intensity is what's needed and that's a good place to start to build fitness.

Beyond that, if you want to get good at a particular type of riding you need to do that type of riding and keep pushing yourself.

Once you get within 5-10% of elite XC or downhill times then you will need a very specialised training program that focuses on your weakesses to bridge that gap. Time in the gym can help, flexibilty training etc etc.
 

leitch

Feelin' a bit rrranty
Nice thread @Chriso_29er . Was going to reply to this in the other thread but didn't - I think you addressed most of it:
You won't be any fitter from riding the gravel bike for 3 hours than you would be from riding the MTB for 3 hours.
I can guarantee you will have higher average or normalised power over the duration of an MTB ride versus the gravel
IMO the way we ride MTB is, as you alluded to, much more akin to high intensity intervals. Roadie is much more sustained and "smooth" efforts (unless you're intentionally doing structured intervals obviously).

When I'm in a heavy MTB phase and neglecting the road bike, contrary to @caad9's point above, my aerobic fitness falls off. Leg strength and maximal power increases for sure, but if I go for a 3hr road ride with my roadie mates, I'm dropped in a moment on climbs etc where the winch-and-plummet I've been doing at Red Hill or Silvan hasn't helped my endurance at all.
 

Chriso_29er

Likes Bikes and Dirt
One thing that surprised me was the first time I came out of winter after having a trainer. I felt strong, had been spinning my legs much more frequently than I usually did over the miserable months, and thought I was going to come out strong.

I wasn't wrong, but the sort of strong wasn't what I was used to. I'd been spinning at my comfortable cadence and increasing my power in the sweet spot, but my low cadence work had been non existent so I struggled a lot with steep or techy climbs the first couple of rides. The quizzical look on my face as I started wheezing on climbs I figured would be easy would have been comical for sure



And I know it's a no-brainer, but singlespeeding increases your fitness for all other modes. Crank mashing torque is definitely the biggest increase, but you get a solid core and arm workout from it and the inability to change to a comfy gear has you spinning faster and slower than you'd like all the time. If fitness is the goal, Singlespeed is a tough one to beat for getting it up there fast.

Sent from my H8324 using Tapatalk
Imagine what you would have been like without the trainer work haha

I agree about the single speed thing. While the constant pedalling of a trainer or path ride or something is great for endurance. Still need to put in forced efforts. My technique is to find what would be the comfortable way to get up a given hill, but then force yourself to do it 1 or 2 gears up. But like you say, spinning is just as important as building the low cadence strength. It's hard to replicate a techy climb, but having overall leg strength still makes them easier IMO.
 

Rorschach

Paid $250 for this custom title
Chucking my 2c in, I really notice when I do some base kms on the roadie and then jump on the mtb
Those kms can be on a trainer or a lunch ride but if those kms aren't there I really notice it.

Having said this, my lifestyle is pretty sedentary with a couple of young kids and I don't do much if any exercise and my rides are 30-50km on the roadie and 10-15km on the mtb with about 300-350m climbing on each

I do agree though with the interval-heavy style of mtb riding compared to continually turning the legs over for a period of time on the roadie
 

goobags

Likes Dirt
The single speed part is a bit more than just bulk torque and pedal mashing, it comes down to rate of ascent.

There is a minimum speed you can climb on a single speed before the cadence just gets too low therefore you end up climbing at a higher ascent rate than usual which means it’s a whole stack better to develop fitness.

I find on certain sections of climbs I will lift my cadence so I can get back in the saddle for a bit of a rest even though I’m putting more effort in after a big out of saddle climb


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ozzybmx

call me Cáitín
The addition of a smart trainer has really surprised me.

I went from reasonably fit to shit at the end of 2019, then injury, then a knee blew out, then signed up for a TAFE course, then corona... all within 5 months from December 2019 till April 2020. Fitness plummeted and weight went on.

A couple of months ago we borrowed a Kickr off a friend while they went on holiday then bought our own as we liked it. I have done nearly 600km on it in 2 months and its definitely making a big difference.

I climbed up a firetrack yesterday that has been a struggle in the past 2 years like I was back in 2016. I can only put that down to the workouts on the smart trainer.

Still carrying 10kg more than I would like but hope to get that off in the next 6 months.
 

Rorschach

Paid $250 for this custom title
The addition of a smart trainer has really surprised me.

I went from reasonably fit to shit at the end of 2019, then injury, then a knee blew out, then signed up for a TAFE course, then corona... all within 5 months from December 2019 till April 2020. Fitness plummeted and weight went on.

A couple of months ago we borrowed a Kickr off a friend while they went on holiday then bought our own as we liked it. I have done nearly 600km on it in 2 months and its definitely making a big difference.

I climbed up a firetrack yesterday that has been a struggle in the past 2 years like I was back in 2016. I can only put that down to the workouts on the smart trainer.

Still carrying 10kg more than I would like but hope to get that off in the next 6 months.
I found the same, but I assumed it was more an improvement in stamina and base level fitness - certainly is for me anyway
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Nice thread @Chriso_29er . Was going to reply to this in the other thread but didn't - I think you addressed most of it:


IMO the way we ride MTB is, as you alluded to, much more akin to high intensity intervals. Roadie is much more sustained and "smooth" efforts (unless you're intentionally doing structured intervals obviously).

When I'm in a heavy MTB phase and neglecting the road bike, contrary to @caad9's point above, my aerobic fitness falls off. Leg strength and maximal power increases for sure, but if I go for a 3hr road ride with my roadie mates, I'm dropped in a moment on climbs etc where the winch-and-plummet I've been doing at Red Hill or Silvan hasn't helped my endurance at all.
It was definitely a big generalisation that I went with, so it probably wasn’t entirely accurate.

A big problem with most people is that they ride the MTB in a completely different fashion. All of a sudden, people need to ride full bore up any slight incline. Think of it as a tortoise and the hare type scenario. Best lesson anyone can ever have is riding with power on all types of bikes and looking at the numbers you are putting out in different situations.

The simplest way to look at a ride is that you want to ride below your threshold to be able to sustain that power inevitably. To produce even power, it essentially boils down to this - ride slow up hill, moderately on flats and hard going down hill.

There have been advances in training methods and science, but volume still wins out at the highest level.
Also, the reason all pro MTB riders train on road bikes often is because the load on the body is much less taxing and it is much easier to ride in a prescribed power zone to maximise the benefit.


I should add, the best thing anyone can do is do lots of different types of rides, even if it’s just on the MTB
 
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Daniel Hale

She fid, he fid, I fidn't
going against the grain i don’t find SS’ing gives me big power gains, i have never been a power rider, prefer to spin, if i ride SS and it gets abov e10% i prefer to get off and walk-and ive kept it up regularly, if u put me on a geared bike against riders who do slightly less hrs than me /but similar weight/power i am no quicker than them on climbs

i also ride long on fixed gear tracklocross, diff to SS as you must keep turning the pedals, i avoid nasty climbs on it buy can happily punch out 75-80km, good for cadence work and with the skinny tyres - lighter weight easier to ride on climbs, only about 8kg i think

big thing ive noticed is that no road km’s in the last 2 yrs has cost me sustained power, and even though i do ride regular dirt hrs all year, ive just got back on the road so i can do some longer sustained pedalling efforts - i can;t sustain any speed at present, 5yrs ago could sit in a bunch doing 40km/hr for 1-2hrs, now get dropped within 10 mins

ill prob gets an ebike before zwift, but a local roadie/turned mtb guy i know has never been faster, he mostly races on zwift, has improved on climbs a lot, i used to be able to leave him behind without going deep, now he has reversed and is doing the same to me
 

stirk

Burner
My favourite rides for fitness and strength are the ones which combine long grinds uphill on fire trail then followed by undulating short burst terrain finished with high energy fast cadence run downhill and then single track.

For those that know it the Oaks in the Blue Mountains followed by a loop of knapsack is this big ride for me. Have not done it since I broke my leg and dislocated my ankle.

Start at Glenbrook at the bottom, 12 km straight uphill them another 12km up and down but mostly up. Turn around and head back but sure to pedal as fast as you can down the long ~7km all downhill middle section which is the big cardio session and smash the single track. Then hit the single tracks at knapsack which are really taxing on their own let alone after a 50km fire trail ride.

The combination of cardio, burst, strength and endurance is all in the one ride. It's a perfect combo if you can find it.
 

Calvin27

Eats Squid
I find technical single track best for developing fitness. For prolonged simple stuff I find it's easier to slack. For techy climbs you have to put enough power in and wrestle the whole bike.
 

rextheute

Likes Dirt
Disclaimer - E-mtb - heavy , did i mention heavy front end ?
Really builds upper body on a technical trail , my core , chest upper body ache after a hard ride - good for endurance in legs .
Strength not so much - understandably
Heart Rate ave 155bpm , ranges from 130 - 165
Most of my rides are 30 -40 ilm -between 400- 500m climbing .
But all on not what is would call groomed trails - mostly moto single track

Fatbike - 15 klm on this is a revelation , light fast and spins along happily , but high cadence and heart rate av similar to bike , but legs really feel it !
Gravel Roads and bike path
Path bike - 15 - 25 km loop - 3 speed old school rear drum brakes , great workout and no resting !
Gravel Roads and bike path to next town

After @Chriso_29er posted his stats , i actually started looking at mine on the strava app , and all bikes work you , but different disciplines work you differently - i.e. trail to single track as opposed to ' gravel roads cruise '

If i was chasing strength and speed , Enduro riding would be the go to - but are enduro bikes good at point to point riding involving lots of climbing , descending and cross country ?

I always come back to - " i like riding my bike " and the last few months has really made that hard , so I'm looking forward to ( hopefully ) getting out and about if / when possible , on any and all my bikes .
 

frenchman

Eats cheese. Sells crack.
going against the grain i don’t find SS’ing gives me big power gains, i have never been a power rider, prefer to spin, if i ride SS and it gets abov e10% i prefer to get off and walk-and ive kept it up regularly, if u put me on a geared bike against riders who do slightly less hrs than me /but similar weight/power i am no quicker than them on climbs

i also ride long on fixed gear tracklocross, diff to SS as you must keep turning the pedals, i avoid nasty climbs on it buy can happily punch out 75-80km, good for cadence work and with the skinny tyres - lighter weight easier to ride on climbs, only about 8kg i think

big thing ive noticed is that no road km’s in the last 2 yrs has cost me sustained power, and even though i do ride regular dirt hrs all year, ive just got back on the road so i can do some longer sustained pedalling efforts - i can;t sustain any speed at present, 5yrs ago could sit in a bunch doing 40km/hr for 1-2hrs, now get dropped within 10 mins

ill prob gets an ebike before zwift, but a local roadie/turned mtb guy i know has never been faster, he mostly races on zwift, has improved on climbs a lot, i used to be able to leave him behind without going deep, now he has reversed and is doing the same to me
If you didn't bitch out of the climbs on singlespeed you'd be miles ahead of ur hipster mates.

There's a reason I'll never try and keep up with the ss guys at a 24 hour race
 

tubby74

Likes Bikes and Dirt
It's a perfect combo if you can find it.
its been a while since i did an up and back on the oaks, cant imagine finishing that last climb from the weir and saying, you know what i need to find a bit more. but have to agree, you need to get some steady state fitness, but also train the explosiveness to get over pinch climbs or small trail features when you're tired. approaching 50 i'm still in decent shape for plodding out miles, but that short sharp burst is getting harder to find
 
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