There's no doubting that mountain biking involves a huge amount of skill, tune into any of the cross-country and downhill world cup feed and you will see riders manage their bikes with pinpoint accuracy and speed.
So it's unsurprising that we see many off-road adjacent riders crossing over to the pro peloton and finding great success. The likes of Egan Bernal, Peter Sagan, and Jakob Fuglsang all cut their teeth between the off-road tape. So if you watched in awe at Tom Pidcock's masterclass descent of the Col du Galibier and want to unlock those skills, maybe your next bike should be a mountain bike.
Here's why turning off the tarmac and heading into the woods could be a big upgrade to your road riding.
While mountain bike trails are a world away from the tarmac, the mountain bike skills you will learn off-road will cross over to your road riding to make you a more confident and controlled rider.
The less predictable surface and wildly varying gradients will force you to concentrate more on weight distribution, body position, and line choice. All these skills are important so you can corner, brake, and accelerate better, carrying extra speed through corners whilst being in more control.
The softer dirt surface will also teach you the limits of grip. Even with the bigger grippier tires, cornering and braking on loose surfaces will give you a better understanding of the limits of grip and help you maintain control.
Let's not forget that there's a whole host of secondary skills that are encouraged on mountain bikes. Learning skills like bunnyhopping is also extremely useful on the road allowing you to jump over unavoidable potholes or roadside debris.
Trails will help sharpen reaction time too, singletrack trails will frequently twist and turn through trees and rocks forcing riders to react quickly to hidden obstacles. That means when you head out on the road bike again you will be better equipped when faced with an unexpected pothole.
Escape the traffic
If your idea of a perfect road ride is an empty country lane free of cars, then heading deep into the woods on a mountain bike is going to be very appealing. With only the odd dog walker, hiker, or horse rider to contend with means you can properly enjoy your ride in peace without looking over your shoulder for what's coming up behind you.
It also gives you more peace to build confidence and practice those aforementioned mountain bike skills without having to worry about other road users, just watch out for those trees!
Boost your high-intensity power
Compared to your weekend road rides, the distances covered on a mountain bike ride will be very short. However, don't let that fool you into thinking you won't see any physical benefit. A typical mountain bike ride will be packed with steep pitches and short sharp accelerations that will work your high-end power output.
If your looking for an edge when racing your friends to the town sign or kicking it up a steep local climb on the hunt for a PB, mountain biking could be the secret weapon you have been looking for.
It will also benefit your core strength too. The more dynamic riding forces you to work more muscles to stabilize and maneuver the bike. This can translate to being able to hold a better position for longer on the road bike whilst still delivering high power output.
Keep things fresh
It can be all too easy to get stuck into repeating the same old training rides and club runs, however, mountain biking is going to get you out of the proverbial rut and revitalize your riding.
Whether it's exploring the unknown tracks and trails around your local area or venturing further afield, there is no doubt that heading out on the mountain bike is not only going to reinvigorate your love of riding but have you return to your favorite road routes faster than before.