Sunday, December 17, 2006

nails in the coffin

If yesterday's ride was hard today's ride put the nails into the coffin. Scott, John and I did a road ride. I'd forgotten how hard road rides can be. Scott's a 20year veteran of road riding and he just drilled it. I wished I'd popped some sportlegs.

The route had lots of small/steep hills and one extended climb. My legs were just in agony the whole time. I'm amazed at the difference between road riding and mountain biking and how important economy of motion is.

I've got more than 17 years of mountain biking under my belt. In that time you learn how to move on a bike and how to work with the trail to be efficient. All these tricks serve to develop your economy on the bike. It seems that road riding is no different. As the snot is dripping from my nose and I'm trying to just hold a wheel while my pedaling feels like a square, my overanalyzing mind is trying to figure out why in the blink of an eye Scott is 5 bike lengths ahead of me. No standing, no sprinting, he's just gone. And why is that when I'm pulling that he is never a few inches off my wheel, regardless of my fitness.

I think it's a combo of two things. One is that there is a different economy of motion on the road bike compared to the mountain bike. The other thing is that good road riders are always pedaling. There is always power being applied to the wheels. On the mountain bike, there are hundereds of built in recovery spots where you can't pedal due to descending, cornering, rocks, etc. I believe that I'm used to not pedaling for small amounts of time. On the road ride today, I'd catch myself not pedaling when I should be. This seemd to correspond to the times when Scott would be teleported several bike lengths ahead.

The constant leg burn is something you don't see as much in mountain biking. Also my lower back and neck hurts more road riding because you're upper body is more static.

This past year I've put more time into the mountain bike. Being overly concerned that I'd lose my skills. Yesterday's ride proved to me that you don't need to ride off road every day to maintain your skills. It's more important to know the fundamentals and focus on them. The road riding I've done has been more base intensity or climbing by myself . Very few hard group road rides. It's been interesting to note the difference in my mountain biking ability to my road riding ability at high intensity.

I'm just a lot better on the mountain bike. Hence the comfort zone tends to be on the mountain bike. I think it's really time to leave the comfort zone a little. My speculation is that road riding is more complimentary of mountain biking than mountain biking is of road riding.

It's going to take some effort to overcome my trepidation of big group rides. But the benefit of getting drilled into the ground weekly will pay off big at the mountain bike races.

Today's efforts were out of the norm for this time of year. It's a special exception but I'm sort of looking forward to doing it again when the time right.


At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You bring up some great points. When I go on a group ride and find myself falling behind, I realize it's because I'm neglecting my pedal stroke. When I apply constant pressure all the way around on both sides (or at least as much as I'm able), I usually don't fall behind.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Bike Tech Racing said...

I'm basically a road rider, and I think that is because I really stink at mountain biking. I have troubles in two areas - the technical bike handling really kicks my ass and the second part is something that might concern you - I have trouble recovering after very hard efforts - which happpens after every hill, turn, log, rock, off camber thing... you get my meaning. There are alot more accelerations in Mt Biking for me and I'm not recovering. But, in road riding things are more constant - you take the effort up to nearly vomit and hold it. I guess that is why I like the wide open Mt. Bike events like leadville and Cheq. and I really like road TT's. But this is me. You might be the opposite - good bike skills and have the ability to recover often and quickly.


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