Road bike training off the road with a MTB/Gravel

I’m super annoyed by the traffic here in Germany at the moment. Not a training lap goes by without being

  • being overtaken too closely
  • being insulted
  • being honked at

I’m currently thinking about doing my training rides Mon-Fri here in the forest. I also have a gravel bike and an XC MTB. I feel really uncomfortable riding alone on the road at the moment, group rides with the club are fine, but more for the weekend.

Has anyone had any experience with off-road training? Can I train properly with the gravel / MTB in the forest on forest highways?

I have TR/Zwift as an indoor alternative, but indoor only is no fun either.

Yes depending on the terrain, off-road tracks tend be steeper and have more corners, which can make keeping to your workout trickier than on a flat straight road.

Another important thing to bear in mind is that the additional vibration from off-road riding increases fatigue, if you try and maintain the same weekly TSS off road you could end up suffering from burn out from the extra fatigue.

It works great. Just make sure you have your gravel and MTB setup like your road bike (same seat height, crank length, saddle set back, etc.). That way you are working the same muscles in the same way you are using them on the road bike. Which reminds me, I “need” to find a 170mm crank for my gravel bike so it will match my MTB…XC racing is my main focus.

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Uh Oh… My trail bike has 175 cranks, My XC has 165 and my gravel bike 172.5. All have different set-ups to what feels best for that bike. :grimacing:

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I wonder if the different setups really are an issue. Riding the mtb or the gravel bike with slightly different setups will still give you a good workout.


I race XC. While I will say most of my training is done on the road because it’s easier you can make it work. I use heartrate in the woods because power just is not reasonable. “Foredt highways” sounds promising for keeping in zone though. I’ve never really noticed a big issue with jumping between bikes. The only downside for XC focus would be not working on technical skills enough but sounds like your main focus is the road

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Almost all of my training is outdoors. I have a road bike and a gravel bike with power meters.

While I want to train on gravel, I haven’t figured out to do it in my area. My gravel has too many turns, climbs, and descents to decently follow a workout.

All you need is a route where you can match your power to your workout without stops.

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I use saved rides to check for appropriate sections to complete an outdoor workout and plan accordingly. For my area, I’m usually looking for consistent hills, and checking my time to complete them. If my workout calls for 5 minute intervals, I’m looking at previous rides for a five-minute steady(ish) hill. I use RideWithGPS to do this because it’s visually easy. Strava probably is too, but I never really got into using it.

I think people are now talking here about two different things: training off the road with a mtb/gravel and following a Trainerroad workout off the road with mtb/gravel.