Mountain Bikes versus Road Bikes

Mountain Bikes versus road bikes
September 29 2010

I am a bit of a loner at my workplace.  I'm the only mountain bike rider out of six regular cyclists.  We all ride to work a few times a week (at least) and up until recently have gone on lunch time rides of the 20 km 'river loop' that takes us through Indooroopilly, Chelmer, Tennyson, Yerrongapilly, St Lucia and back to Indooroopilly on an approximate 40 minutes trip.

For the first few months we were all riding pretty much together, that is, finding it equally challenging.  As the road cyclists got more conditioned I found it increasingly difficult to keep up.  I know it's not my personal fitness because I borrowed my boss's bike one ride and was faster than the others.

For a while I held on to the dream that I could keep up with the road guys by just being more determined and that riding with them would make my mountain biking and overall fitness increase at a faster rate.  Sounds good in theory;  I'm being forced to a faster pace than I would otherwise ride at and therefore am pushed harder and should improve at a greater rate.  In practice I have found I cannot ride as frequently because I am pushing myself too hard and getting DOMS, meaning I can only manage only one ride like that a week.  If I ride by myself I can cycle at a slower pace but I can cycle every day, thereby increasing my overall calorie consumption (a goal of mine) and getting more saddle time to condition my muscles away from the power-lifting they are used to.

I thought it interesting to post a few stats:

Here's a link to my fastest MTB lap of the 'river loop' and here's a link to my one effort on terms bike.  I'm sure I could go faster on than that road bike time, given I was taking it easy not knowing what I'd feel like when I got to St Lucia (expecting to hurt big-time like usual).

Below is a side-by-side comparison of my efforts on MTB and Road (from the above two links).  My MTB is on the top.

Windowslivewriter Mountainbikesversusroadbikes B72E Riverloop Mtb Vs Road Thumb


Here is a comparison from this mornings ride with Adam (term) & Ricky on road bikes and me on my mountain bike.  I'm the top line, then Adam, then Ricky.

Windowslivewriter Mountainbikesversusroadbikes B72E Riverloop Grazer Term Boba Ride Thumb

I've included the speed graph so we can see how the actual road speed translates to effort (as indicated by cadence and heart rate, the two most important factors) It should be immediately obvious that I had to work much harder to keep up.  You can see my heart rate was much higher than both the road riders.  Something that may be interesting for Adam is that his heart rate seems to drop faster than Ricky's and mine.  We both drop around 20 bpm in the first 'dip', whereas Adam drops closer to 40 probably indicating a higher level of overall cardio fitness.  This twice as large drop can be seen each trough of the heart rate graph.

During the ride the road guys were a little to fast for me to be able to catch up each time we "took off" and you can see Ricky's cadence drop as he drafts behind Adam.  Unfortunately I had no such luck and to peddle like a hamster on speed inside his wheel.

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