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Underbiking your way to MTB Glory

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Gravel Bike Training for Mountain Biking Skills and Endurance Improvement

If you're a mountain biker looking to improve your skills or add some variety to your training, it might be time to add “under biking” to your repertoire. Riding skinny tires, with no suspension can be a great way to improve your mountain bike skills and confidence, while also building your endurance. While the two types of cycling might seem very different, there are actually a lot of similarities between them. In this article, I’ll explore why riding a gravel bike can help you become a better mountain biker, and offer some tips for how to get the most out of your gravel rides.

Build Endurance

The first and most apparent benefit of riding a gravel bike is that it's a great way to build endurance. Gravel rides can be long and challenging, with varied terrain and plenty of hills. By spending time on your gravel bike, you'll develop the fitness and stamina you need to tackle longer and more demanding mountain bike rides. This will allow you to push yourself harder and ride longer on the trails. While you can still build endurance on the trails, riding a gravel bike will allow you to cover more ground in less time and explore new places. In addition, gravel often requires pushing a moderately big gear for long periods of time, something you rarely get on the trail. This can be a great way to improve your aerobic and muscular endurance, while also giving your body a break from the rigors of trail riding.

Improve Handling

In addition to building endurance, riding a gravel bike can help you improve your bike handling skills. Gravel bikes require a lot of balance and control, as you navigate uneven and unpredictable terrain. This translates directly to mountain biking, where you'll encounter a wide variety of obstacles and challenges that require quick reflexes and precise handling but without the assistance of the big fat tires, and your cush suspension. By honing your skills on the gravel bike, you'll be better equipped to handle whatever the trails throw your way with confidence as things will be coming at you slower, and be less jarring.

Go Big

To get the most out of your gravel rides, there are a few things you can do to optimize your training. First, find routes that mimic the terrain and challenges you'll encounter on the mountain bike trails. This will help you train specifically for the skills you'll need to excel on the trails. Don’t be afraid to hit the single track and the chonk, if you can conquer it on the gravel bike, the MTB will be a piece of cake! Second, make sure you're using the right gear and equipment. A gravel bike with wider tires and lower tire pressure can help you navigate rough terrain more easily. Finally, be sure to incorporate interval training and other high-intensity workouts into your gravel rides, to simulate the intensity of mountain biking.

In conclusion, riding a gravel bike is a great way to improve your skills for mountain biking. By building endurance, improving your bike handling skills, and developing mental toughness, you'll be better prepared to tackle challenging trails and push yourself to new heights. With the right training and preparation, your gravel rides can become an essential part of your mountain biking routine. So grab your gravel bike and hit the road - your mountain biking skills will thank you!

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