The Three TR Sports

TR introduces each podcast welcoming us to the podcast that makes us faster cyclists and triathletes.

After listening to the past few podcasts with Coach Jonathan really diving into the intricacies of mountain bike racing (I have zero experience with mountain biking), I’ve come to the conclusion that mountain biking really is a different sport than road cycling. They’re related, and use the same energy systems, but they are distinct enough to be called a different sport. Finding the right lines, the technical skills, making quick decisions about staying on trail vs off… I have none of these, and I am super impressed when I listen. Its clear that Jonathan is both passionate and knowledgeable about the sport, and its super cool to hear. Likewise, I’m sure for some mountain bikers, the prospect of a hard swim before climbing onto a bike sounds daunting. So, while all three sports have distinct disciplines, and all three use the same energy systems, the cognitive loads and skill sets for each, I think, make them distinct sports.

1.) Road Cycling
2.) Off-road cycling
3.) Duathlon/Triathlon

Your roads must be great if you never have to think about line choice :smile:

I think there are many things you can do on a bike. Some of them are more related than others, and each requires some sort of skill that is a little bit different to the others. Its great to explore it a little bit, and pick up new skills.

Triathlon of course, is actually three sports!

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4 if you include nutrition (which is more akin to playing a game of chess against a reckless verison of yourself)

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Multisport is definitely a distinct sport given the need to run and swim. I think cycling is just one big sport that comes in a few different flavours though. The stuff that Jonathan talks about is getting into the pretty pointy/specialist end of the MTB spectrum. There are some pretty specialised aspects of road cycling too if you get to the pointy end of racing - pros descending mountains at >100kph, all the aero tech in TT, the insanity of a sprint lead out train, etc. Those things are as impressive to your average recreational cyclist who does the occasional gran fondo as the stuff that Jonathan talks about is impressive to you.

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I think of them in terms of where fluids are kept;

  1. In a café
  2. In a backpack with a tube
  3. Between the riders arms or inside the frame

I feel like the biggest difference in on/off road cycling is how much the course is also one of your main competitors. That to me seems like a bigger difference than the training demands between disciplines. I think in any discipline, you’re competing against the course at least a little. There’s always that guy who takes corners faster, or paces his TT better than someone else.

As a MTB guy, it seems that a lot of my tactics are how to attack the course, and a lot of road cycling tactics are how to attack eachother.

Training wise though, I feel like XCO/XCM training overlaps a ton with most road cycling. The gravity oriented MTB disciplines seem like they would train more like a track sprinter than an endurance racer. But I suppose my bias is for longer races, and not the short format stuff.

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Maybe I’m wrong, but I think “deciding your line” means something different in a peloton on the road vs on a single-track.

My post is simply to point out that I’m super impressed with mountain biking, and that I don’t think I’d have the proprioceptive coordination to do it effectively. Admittedly, developing those skills would likely make be a better road cyclist as well.

Now, this is getting SUPER pedantic, but I really view triathlon as a distinct sport with three disciplines, not three sports squeezed together. Nutrition, transition, psychology, and the cumulative effect of each disciple on the next make triathlon much more than just swim + bike + run.