Recently (well, as far as my history of biking goes it was fairly recent), I really started to road bike full-time. I've gone years now where I'll only ride off road about 10% of the time. This year--well, starting in the fall of last year--I started to split it up a little more evenly. In fact, all told, I think I've been riding about 50-50 on versus off road.
Road cycling has made me a better mountain biker. Here's a few things I've learned from my road bike
- Pedaling in higher gears on climbs. It used to be automatic that I'd shift way down and settle into a nice high, easy cadence on every climb--no matter how steep. Now, I'll push a harder gear much longer which helps me to keep my speed up. I've also found that on some tricky loose climbs, I can maintain my momentum and traction much longer in a higher gear.
- Hardtails are good. I love the speed with which hardtails accelerate. I can stand up and sprint when I need to without worrying about bogging down the rear suspension.
- I can keep my HR higher and push myself longer. Riding on the road has more sustained efforts that have taught me to handle the long steady suffer. I'm much better at settling into a high heart-rate and patiently awaiting the end of a long climb.
- Don't brake in a corner, but brake before corners. I'm terrible and descending and cornering, but I'm getting better. The road bike has taught me how to handle braking around corners (don't, just brake before) and how to carry my center of gravity. Perhaps this is something I _should_ have learned on the mountain bike, but I think I get too lazy with the wonderful stopping power of disc brakes.
- Baggy shorts just get in the way. I find them distracting, and with a good jersey (with rear pockets), I don't really see the need to have additional pockets.
- I don't need a hydration pack. For most of my riding off road, I'm not out more than a couple hours. Usually, a couple large water bottles will do just fine. I can stuff what I need in my jersey pockets (tools, spare tube, micro pump, etc.). I've grown to hate having a pack on my back. Thanks to riding on the road, I've also gotten much better at drinking from a bottle while riding on the trail as well.
Is there anything I've learned from mountain biking?
- At least one thing comes to mind: Tire pressure. Tubeless tires on my mountain bike taught me to ride low. I can't hardly stand pressures above 25psi off road (even on skinny 1.9" tires). For the road, I've settled down on about 100psi (for 700x23c tires). That's high enough that I won't get a pinch flat, yet low enough to smooth out the road considerably. It's high enough that I don't squirm around when I stand up to sprint, but low enough that rumble strips on the shoulder of roads are little more than an annoyance.