How does riding time/effort on Mt. Bike compare to road riding?
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  1. #1
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    How does riding time/effort on Mt. Bike compare to road riding?

    I like to ride my mountain bike 1-2 days per week, over rolling, technical, and with occasional sustained climbing. My overall sense of effort is probably pretty similiar to the feeling I get on a road ride, but much less sustained and more varied. My typical ride is 2-3 hours. How does 2-3 hours on a mountain bike compare to riding a road bike, both time and mileage-wise? Is 2 hours on the mountain bike equivalent to 2 hours on the road bike? And, fitness wise, is 2 hours on the mountain bike equivalent to 40 miles on the road bike? (I normally ride about 20mph on the road). I want to get as good, if not different, of a workout on the MTB as I do on the road bike.

  2. #2
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by dawgcatching
    I like to ride my mountain bike 1-2 days per week, over rolling, technical, and with occasional sustained climbing. My overall sense of effort is probably pretty similiar to the feeling I get on a road ride, but much less sustained and more varied. My typical ride is 2-3 hours. How does 2-3 hours on a mountain bike compare to riding a road bike, both time and mileage-wise? Is 2 hours on the mountain bike equivalent to 2 hours on the road bike? And, fitness wise, is 2 hours on the mountain bike equivalent to 40 miles on the road bike? (I normally ride about 20mph on the road). I want to get as good, if not different, of a workout on the MTB as I do on the road bike.
    I think it's hard to compare, since terrain is a factor. For instance, a 2 hour mtb ride on smooth, firm, flat singletrack is way different than on a steep, loose, and technical trail. I think you'd need some power measurement devices be accurate.

    I get fatigued more quickly on my road bike than I do on my mountain bike. I think it's because I'm almost constantly pedalling. Whether the road is uphill, downhill, or flat, my legs are spinning. It seems as if I coast for less than 5% of the ride. While mountain biking on the other hand, I stop pedalling momentarily every time I need to work a big rock, root, drop-off, sharp turn, etc. If it's a steep and technical descent, then I don't pedal down it. We often stop more to socialize, eat, take pics, and let slower riders catch up on the mtb. I can eat while riding on the road bike, but if I tried to eat while on the mtb, I'd crash.

    I personally can ride twice as long on the mtb than on the road bike, so my completely unscientific, anectdotal, seat-of-the-pants conversion factor is a 2:1 ratio of workout road:mountain.
    Last edited by Nat; 06-25-2004 at 04:20 AM.

  3. #3
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    Dependant on terrain...

    I'm not very scientific about it. When on the MTB, my avg. speed is a little more than half of what it would be on the road bike. Therefore, I would double my MTB numbers when comparing them to a road ride.

    My MTBing tends to be on technical singletrack. I'm often alone or with close friends and we will rarely stop. We socialize in the parking lot. IMO, if you are riding rugged terrain, the MTB offers a more complete full body workout. Any time spent relaxing the legs (coasting) is offset by the increased demands on the rest of your body (getting over obstacles and bike handling). After 20 miles in the woods, I'm much more tired than after 40 miles on the road.


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  4. #4
    FTMD
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    Fwiw

    A rule of thumb a previous riding partner used to use when I was just beginning in this sport is 3 to 1. Or, one mile of mtb is equal to three on the road.

    Have no idea where he got it or anything. But, he seemed to know everything when I knew nothing about this sport, so it's sort of stuck with me.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FTMD
    A rule of thumb a previous riding partner used to use when I was just beginning in this sport is 3 to 1. Or, one mile of mtb is equal to three on the road.

    Have no idea where he got it or anything. But, he seemed to know everything when I knew nothing about this sport, so it's sort of stuck with me.
    back in the mid-80's i heard something similar. something like 40mi. off-road was comparable to 90 on. don't know where i heard it or read it but like many unsubstantiated bits of info, it stuck.

    for me there are different workouts. off-road requires more upper body strength and too some degree leg strength(ss rider on dirt).

    on the road requires more aerobic capacity. i'm constantly pedaling at a relatively consistant rate. not what's happening off-road.

  6. #6
    johnny99
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    1 hour on a mountain bike is roughly comparable to 1 hour on a road bike if you keep your intensity levels about the same. Mountain biking often has steeper hills, but usually for shorter distances and you can recover a little on the downhills.

    Note that serious mountain bikers usually do most of their fitness training on road bikes since you can ride a road bike for more hours per day without getting your upper body beat up like on a mountain bike.

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