After I bot my first mountain bike, I wanted to ride it as often as possible. Oftentimes I was wondering if I overdo it and how often should I incorporate rest days in my mountain biking routine, the biggest question was if I can ride my mountain bike every day without long-term consequences.
As a general rule, mountain biking every day at a moderate pass for at least one hour is one of the best ways to lose weight and increase endurance. After high-intensity or longer rides, a rest day is highly recommended to allow your body to recover.
In this article, we will discuss the consequences of overtraining, how to avoid them and how often it is ok to ride your mountain bike for fitness, health improvement, and everyday use. I encourage you to keep reading because at the end of this article you will know how many days in a row can you ride your bike without overtraining yourself.
Is It Ok to Ride Your Mountain Bike Every Day?
On average, most people can ride a mountain bike at moderate intensity (less than 80% of their maximum capacity) every day without exposing themselves to the risk of injuries or not recovering by the next day.
Mountain biking for an hour a day is a great way to get in physical shape, but riding for three or more hours every day will highly increase the risk of overtraining. Fatigue will start to add up and your body will lose its capability to fully recover by the next day.
Keep in mind that intensity is a big factor that determines if you need to get a day off, long assents and high cadence on flat surfaces will increase the stress on your body and will increase the number of calories burned. You need to eat enough calories for your body to recover. I know that this is counterintuitive for people that are trying to lose weight, but starvation is not indicated here.
The key factor here is to listen to your body, if you feel that you don’t fully recover by the next day you need a day off. A lack of proper nutrition and hydration combined wid a high-intensity mountain biking ride is the recipe for disaster (high risk of injury).
From my experience, I can tell you that if you pay close attention to the signals that your body sends you the risk of overtraining or injury are minor.
For three months I ride my mountain bike every day for about 9-10 miles, from which 3 or 4 miles were stiff climb sections, and every ride I drank about 800 ml of water (this is the capacity of my water bottle). I keep a medium pedaling cadence and I had no problem to be fully recovered by the next day.
Before every ride, I ate a light meal and after about half an hour I started my ride. For rides longer than three hours I drank more than two liters of water and increased by at least 800 the number of calories I consumed that day.
If you think that 800 is a lot take into consideration that mountain biking is one of the more demanding outdoor sport when it comes to calorie consumption.
I have written an in-depth article on the number of calories you burn by mountain biking compared to the most popular outdoor sports, I encourage you to read it!
Can You Ride Your Mountain Bike Too Much?
Mountain biking is a full-body workout with high energy demand, long and intense rides will result in many muscle fibers torn down and lots of calories burned. A lack of proper diet hydration and sleep deprivation will result in overtraining and an increased risk of injury.
Now how do I know if I ride my mountain bike too much? The answer is straightforward if you feel more fatigue every day, then your body doesn’t have enough time to recover and to build back the muscle fibers torn down on your long and intensive mountain biking rides.
A good nutrition plan can help speed the recovery process of your body and will allow you to ride more often and at a higher intensity but will not compensate for a poor sleeping routine. You should sleep eight hours a night if you what to propper recover from long and intense mountain biking rides.
There are a few things you can do to help your body fully recover by the next day and still have long and enjoyable rides:
- Worm up before a ride: Take your bike on a short and slow pass ride on a flat surface or even road before your mountain biking ride, to pump up some blood in your muscles.
- Stretch out before every ride: A good stretch routine before a ride will reduce the risk of cramps and muscle soreness.
- Good hydration: On shorter rides take a 500ml water bottle and drink it while you ride, on longer rides take two 500ml bottles and refill them at every chance you get.
- Put an electrolyte tab in your water bottle: If it is a sunny day and the temperatures are high you will deplete your electrolytes very quickly.
- Take an energy bar on your ride: Having a quick carbohydrate snack when you take a small break is the best way to refill your energy levels.
- Take some sugar intake on longer rides: Here is where your favorite sugar beverage can help you (a nice Coca Cola 500ml bottle, etc).
- Take a power nap after the ride: If you are able to sleep 15-40 min after a long ride this will come a long way in replenishing your energy.
- Pass yourself: Don’t force yourself to ride beyond your physical capability, listen to your body.
If you what to know what muscles you use when mountain biking, this article is for you!
How Many Days in a Row Can You Ride Your Mountain Bike?
On average a mountain biker with a medium fitness level can ride three days in a row and a rider who achieved a high fitness level with proper nutrition and hydration can ride six days in a row after which he needs some days to recover.
The number of riding days in a row that you can manage is in direct correlation with your fitness levels and your nutrition plan. If you have a poor diet your body will not have the proper nutrients to recover and you have an increased risk of injury.
It’s important to know your body and if you need a day of rest after two days of riding, just rest. Don’t force another long ride without resting and risk injuring yourself because an injury will keep you from riding for a longer time. If you are consistent with your rides your endurance and overall fitness levels will rise and you will be able to ride more days in a row without the risk of injury.
One little trick you can do to increase the number of consecutive days you can ride is to ride long distances, push yourself to increase the mileage, and then give your body how many days it needs to recover. In the recovery process, your body will improve and you will be able to ride longer. After you do this a couple of times you will be able to ride shorter rides (your former long rides) more days in a row.
You may also like to read the following article: How many days a week should I mountain bike?
Are Mountain Bikes Good for Everyday Use?
In my opinion, mountain bikes are perfect for everyday use because they are built to go over rough terrain and if you use them to commute to the grocery store or to work they will absorb all the bumps on the road due to their suspensions.
Mountain bikes are designed to take a bitting and this will make them last longer and will need less maintenance than city or road bikes. The biggest benefit I think is the braking system that is designed to quickly stop the bike in the worst conditions possible. This makes mountain bikes very reliable in big cities where you need to stop quickly and securely.
The only big problem with using a mountain bike on everyday chores is that they have wider handlebars to give them more maneuverability on trails and this is a disadvantage when you ride in traffic.
If you what to know more about using a mountain bike for everyday chores, I recommend you read this article!
In summary, we can say that the number of days of break you need to take is highly dependent on your fitness level and your goals. If you just what to lose weight and your rides are sort and not very intense then I think it is safe to say that riding every day is a good choice but if you like to push yourself you need to have a good nutrition plan and when your energy levels are hard to replenish take some days off.
Always ride smart and don’t forget that the key to improvement is consistency!
I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.