Matt Takes on the Leadville 100: Video #3


Mountain bikes or road bikes: why not both? Matt goes over the benefits of combining your MTB training with your road bike training, and how getting better at one helps you improve the other.



It’s a tale as old as time. Mountain bike or road bike. Knobby tires or skinny tires. Rigid or suspended. The debate topics are as endless as the options for what type of carbon handle bar you’re running. The good news is that you don’t actually have to choose! There are numerous benefits to riding both road and mountain bikes, and in this blog we will explore why you should mix it up.




Road biking is great for structured training. One of the time tested methods for getting faster is interval training. At its most basic level, interval training is riding at a certain level of intensity, for a specific amount of time, with a specific number of repetitions. What the intensity, time, and repetition looks like is dependent on your training plan, but what’s true for all interval training is that having a consistent course where you can ride your intervals is key. It’s much easier to find a consistent and uninterrupted 10,20, or even 30 minute climb on a road bike than it is on a mountain bike. Even the top pro XC mountain bike riders will swing a leg over a road bike from time to time to get in their interval workouts! But road biking isn’t the only way to train, mountain biking provides a great venue for building your fitness.

Mountain biking is great for endurance miles. Endurance miles are the opposite of intervals; they are long, slow, easily-ish miles that you can do on days between interval workouts. Endurance rides give your body time to recover from intense interval work, and they teach your body how to use energy more efficiently. Mountain biking is perfect for endurance rides! You spin along through nature at a comfortable pace, and you save your legs for the downhill sections where you’ll likely want to stand on your pedals and use more energy!

Mountain biking is also great for developing body strength because mountain biking requires you to use your whole body. You’ll work out your legs forsure, but you’ll also work out your core, back, chest and other muscle groups. After a long day of mountain biking, my whole body will feel sore, compared to just my legs when I ride my road bike.

When you combine mountain and road biking, you’ll be able to do a wider variety of workouts and you’ll train more muscles in your body. What's not to love?


Riding your mountain bike will make you a better road bike rider, which probably feels like an obvious statement. But maybe more surprising is that riding your road bike will make you a better mountain biker! How can that be?! Put your shock aside for a moment and let's get into it, starting with the more obvious benefits that mountain biking can bring.

When you’re on a mountain bike, you're constantly balancing, managing bumps, steep slopes, loose surfaces, jumps, and more. Learning how to manage all of these inputs on a mountain bike will take time, but ultimately it will allow you to ride a wider range of terrain at a higher speed with more control, confidence, and fun. Those same skills will also allow you to ride your road bike faster as you’ll be able to ride faster and more confidently on wet, steep, and loose road surfaces as a result.

On the other hand, Road biking; you might be thinking, what could a mountain biker get from road biking? That’s a fair question, and before I started road biking I felt very similarly, but once I started riding the road I realized there was much to learn! One of the biggest transferable skills comes from cornering. Leaning a road bike into a corner can be terrifying, it doesn't look like those tiny tires will provide any traction. But once you trust your bike, and begin practicing this skill, you will see how capable your road bike is while cornering at an angle! That same skill of trusting your road bike in the corner will translate to trusting your mountain bike in a corner.

#3: FUN

The final reason to ride both road and mountain bikes is the fun factor. Riding the same bike on the same routes will eventually get boring. It could take weeks, months, or even years, but eventually you will tire of the routine, you’ll start riding less, and you’ll lose some of the magic of this sport. If you ride both road and mountain bikes, you’ll have a greater variety of rides, and will be able to keep yourself stoked on riding bikes!

So after all this, if you’re still not convinced that you should be riding road and mountain bikes, you’re not totally out of luck. In the last couple of years, gravel bikes have become a thing! Gravel bikes are like road bikes with mountain bike tires. They are efficient, lightweight machines that are capable of big miles in the saddle, but that can also handle fire roads and rocky descents. Gravel bikes are great for the bay area, you can do classic road rides like hawk hill behind the golden gate bridge, and then descend down gravel into the Marin Headlands. They give you freedom to explore a wider variety of terrain on a single bike. Gravel bikes come in all sorts of set ups, you can get them more road focused or more dirt focused, or right in the middle. There's something for everyone!

So that’s that! Hope to see you on the road, on the trails, or somewhere in between!

1 comment

  • MikeH says...

    Great article and video! I love both riding both road and mountain as well, and I think the extra variation definitely keeps it more fun and interesting!

    On July 26, 2021

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