Many beginner riders marvel at the spectacle of nicely suited riders hiking up the mountain seamlessly. What they don’t know is that it is an athletic pursuit. Biking over rough steep terrain is an energy-draining endeavour that gets your metabolism galloping, sets your heart pumping and fills your body ecosystem with feel-good chemicals. Let’s face it, you’ll experience the burn, but ultimately you’ll feel at your best, not to mention, keeping deadly diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart conditions at bay. And that’s exactly why most indulge in it.
Mountain biking gets you at your best physically, yet at some level, the pursuit needs you to be at least fit to be able to perceive any enjoyment from it. This is why you need to draw up an ambitious action plan to get you at that minimum level. Here are some pointers:
1) Utilize the road bike to achieve steady endurance
Most beginner riders tend to use a mountain bike or technical courses to do almost all their training. The problem is that these kinds of riders often experience limitations in their capability to ride steadily at threshold or tempo pace. This mostly manifests when beginner mountain bikers present themselves to a group road race with their road bike only to become a daunting task to keep pace with their fellow bikers.
The difficulty stems from the cycle of a big effort, recover and repeat that they are used to. On numerous occasions, these very mountain bike riders make a stop at the summit of every technical section in the course of riding the bike. They might be awesome technical mountain bikers, but if almost all their rides entail injecting huge efforts lasting only two minutes, and taking the time to recover after each effort, they won’t have robust endurance, or the capability to hold high, relatively steady for low and aerobic metabolic cost.
Any race involving mountain bike does require the capability to hold a relatively steady and high pace for the whole event. But what you need to put into perspective is that this pace is completely different for each rider and every race distance.
2) Base your training schedule on the estimated race distance
For beginner mountain bike riders, it seems a no-brainer to draw their training plan based upon race distance. Nevertheless, it’s habitual for these very riders to train for short periods or long periods for objective events. Beginner mountain bike riders training their sights on races that take more than 5 hours require single day extended rides or a cycle of fairly long ride days organized uninterrupted.
In case your target race length is well below two hours, your training race should be 2 to 3 hours to gain race endurance. For shorter rides, it’s prudent to keep intensity levels optimal. Note that you’ll most likely not develop the necessary power levels to perform remarkably at conventional riding events.
3) Going all-out – Consider training in this area
It’s natural for beginner riders to sign up for races that begin with a crowd and then narrows down to a single track. If you’re one of them, then you need the capability to ride all-out for thirty to ninety seconds. To be able to do that, ensure you include these efforts in your training. If the race you’ve signed up in draws near, ensure your training is customized to match the requirements of the main races. Determine the areas that your preferences or immediate skills curb your material race day performance and deliberately initiate workouts in your training plan that deal with those issues. If possible, do reconnaissance ride on the terrain several weeks beforehand so that you can discover and address the main bottlenecks to your race performance.
With ambitious preparation and training, you will achieve a whole new level of confidence on the material day that could lead to positive results. Most beginner mountain bike riders buy the idea of riding trails for recreational purposes for extended periods before signing up for a competitive race. A rider’s speed, fitness, and skills tend to go up depending on the amount of time he or she spends on the bike. Reaching this milestone prompts riders to test their limits, which may include finishing a 50-mile ride, cross country racing and so on.
After a few races, everyone wants to blast-off, and that what racing is really all about. The fact that just riding makes you fit should not make you think that you’ll be any faster. And this training strategy is what beginner riders swear by. The strategy is full of fun and gets you fit, but to be fast enough, you need to incorporate a well-thought-out training in your plan.
One good thing is that mountain bike riders are an autonomous lot that has developed a liking for their dirt. The encouraging part is that you don’t need to acquire a road bike or surrender your trail time in order to ensure structural training goes along the grain. You could enhance your race speed in the dirt by adhering to workouts like climbing endurance, fast starts, and climbing power.
4) Analyze obstacles based on cost
If your aim is to cross the finish line in record time, you have to analyze obstacle based on costs. This simply means that you might be an impeccable technical rider, but if you use a lot of energy riding each technical section of the main race, which takes well over 6 hours to bang, it may be beneficial to just walk some of those sections. A short walk up a challenging section can energize your legs for a stronger finish.
It’s perfectly true that some mountain bikers cherish those technical sections. It’s actually a wonderful spectacle to watch these very mountain bikers dance through the drops, roots, and rocks, and it seems quite easy. These riders still risk injuries, though. But because of their immense biking skills, the risks are significantly low. For those that are not skilled enough, it’s prudent to just walk these sections, insulating the body and equipment from potential damage. It takes a lot more time to get back up and continue riding after a crash compared to hiking-a-bike and continuing the race.
5) Schedule your race training based on the nature of the trail
For a beginner mountain bike rider that wants to compete in high mountains or ski areas, you’ll need to customize your training to match the terrain. High mountains and ski areas are characterized by long climbs that take more than 60 minutes to complete. These types of rides demand time-trial-kind campaigns or well-built muscular endurance. If you’re aspiring to sign up for such a race, and your training environment lacks such kind of terrain, suffice to adopt the muscle training endurance on a road bike.
If your specific race contains short and steep climbs and technical downhill segments afterwards, performing well at such races requires the capability to put out a powerful effort beyond the required threshold. In a nutshell, the downhill segments do not allow for recovery.
If you’re a beginner mountain biker with an ambition of taking the high road to go for the sophisticated kind of races, you’ll need a prescription of a well-thought-out mountain bike training plan while staying in the dirt 100%. Some add on well-structured workouts, of just riding, to the prescription plan will exponentially increase performance and enhance race outcomes.