Why Nordic Skiers Make Good Mountain Bikers (and vice versa)

Posted by Jenny Beckman on Apr 29th 2019

I bought my first mountain bike in 2014 because my best friend (and 2018 Birkie Warrior Inga) Eleanor Bacso traded her rollerskis for fat tires upon moving to Duluth. It became increasingly apparent that when visiting her and her husband Mason – shredding single track was the activity, and it was time to jump on board. Since then riding more has undoubtedly made me a better skier. I am more comfortable at high speed, and I think about transitioning more when it comes to technique instead of just grinding through races. If you have thought about picking up mountain biking, here’s why you might be pretty good at it!

Aerobic Fitness – Intervals. Hills. Speed workouts. When it comes to tuning your aerobic fitness, the path that leads to improvement is the same. Training the body at different levels and durations of intensity will help you make it through whatever challenge you have next whether it’s on dirt or snow.

Race Rhythm – Faster, Fast, Fastest. When you are pacing yourself in a race – skiing or mountain biking you usually start & finish same way. Hit the gas when the gun goes off, settle into a steady effort, and then give everything you’ve got left in the tank just before the finish line.

Reading the Trail – Riders and skiers are both taught to pick a line and anticipate obstacles ahead. During your course preview in any race you will focus on the most technically difficult sections first, and make a plan regarding how to attack them. That way the nasty rock garden at mile 11 or hitting B-hill won’t be a surprise!

Quivers of Gear – We have all heard the adage, “N+1”. N being the number of bikes or skis you already own. And we all want more! We choose our equipment based on the conditions of the track that day – be it wax, structure and camber shape or tire tread, tire pressure and suspension, we consider gear the same way. A big part of having a good experience is having the right tools for the job.

Mental Toughness - Both skiers and mountain bikers are familiar with the pain cave.

Equipment Intuitiveness - Everyone has their favorite bike, or pair of skis that they know like the back of their hand. You know how much kick wax to apply, how much pressure to put in those tires, how well those skis track in corners, the limits of that tread pattern… you push to find the edge and the limits of both yourself and your equipment.

Trail time with friends - It takes no special talent to simply enjoy being outside with a fun group of people – but it’s a great byproduct of both skiing and riding. The absolute best, in my opinion. If you’re looking to create fun Birkie-like experiences but in the summer, pick up a mountain bike. You will not regret it!

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