If you have been riding and racing on the road for many seasons, there is a good chance you have plateaued your performance. Adding variety to your training with mountain biking could be just the change you need to bring your road racing to the next level.
This could mean an occasional off-season mountain bike ride, or even taking an entire season away from the road to race in the dirt.
Changing disciplines within a sport can keep things fresh and position you in the sweet-spot of continual development as an athlete.
Elite off-road cyclists possess physiological profiles that are similar to elite road cyclists. However, mountain biking is different enough to provide new stimulations for positive adaptation and performance development in road racers. Here are some ways road cyclists can use off-road riding to get stronger:
IMPROVE BIKE HANDLING SKILLS
Riding in the dirt forces dedicated road riders out of their comfort zone and improves their bike handling skills. Basic mountain biking skills—like staying relaxed and keeping weight in your feet—translate directly to the road. Speeds in road racing can be high, therefore building lightning-fast reflexes and bike handling skills are real advantages to both your performance and safety.
Road races are not often won on the descents, but they can be lost. Criteriums can be won with excellent cornering skills. Taking an off-road skills clinic from a licensed coach is the best place for road riders to venture into the dirt and start improving their bike handling skills.