Archive for the ‘adventure racing’ Category

Mountain biking and its effects on training

September 22, 2010

Most of us roadies love the ability to just head out the front door and off to the sunset. Mountain biking is equally as valuable of a workout just as road biking is.

There are a few distinct benefits to mountain biking that road biking can not give (unless you try very hard, but you would probably confuse your friends…)

These areas of improvement are as follows: Mental break from the road, variable zone workout, variable pedal rate and forces, and bike handling skills.

The mental break form the road is very important. By now you have tired out your favorite stretch of road and old fido no longer chases you… Heading out into the woods will bring new things to see, and maybe even reunite with some old friends. A lot of roadies I know are ex-mountain bikers anyways. This portion of the off season, a mountain bike session can be just the ticket to keeping motivation to the true end of season break.

Variable workout zones. While I as a coach recommend each workout to be just so (as to elicit a certain training effect) do encourage sometimes just to go out and have fun. Mountain biking is extremely hard to maintain a certain zone for long periods to due to having to climb, descend, dodge trees and ride over obstacles. This lends itself to having a very variable efforts over different times. Think about the last race, was each attack planned as 3 min rest, with 8mins of hard chasing? I sure hope not!!! Mountain biking will allow your cardiovascular system to adopt to having to suddenly increase work rate, rest briefly and do it again. No race is ever a set workout, so is mountain biking.

Variable pedal rates and forces: As mentioned above the constant change in course will cause you to change cadences, and torque on the crankset. One moment you might be pedaling like mad, and the next grinding away in to high a gear up a short climb. In road riding it is important to have these abilities to prepare for the next attack or to maintain pace in a group. I have never pedaled exactly 95rpm an entire race. Mountain biking will help your legs adapt to different strains and stimuli.

Bike handling skills: While road cycling you never have to hop over a root or drop off a ledge; however there are times its needed. These situations might be a tricky wet corner where your back wheel comes out, or a dropped bottle suddenly is front of your wheel. When the back wheel slips you’ll know how to change weight distribution or how to hop over an errant bottle. Mountain biking is a far safer and easier way to learn these techniques then in the middle of a crit and your best friend (or enemy) behind you.

Last, of course mountain biking is the best way to train for mountain bike races… (road has its place for training to however)

Ride Hard!



The post season…

September 16, 2010

Big local crit… Check, State Championships… check, hammer my buddy in to the ground… (priceless) Check. Whats next?

This is on the minds of road bike racers all over the country. After the racing, the hard training miles and counting every calorie what do you do the fitness you have? After all you must do something to maintain your level of fitness right?

Coming up with what to do is very important, but it must be stated you must do something. A size-able amount of fitness can be lost over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. The season between your last big important race and the base season must be filled with something to carry on all the hard work from the previous 44 to 48 weeks.

First and foremost the off season is the time to have fun again, do that which reminds you why you started pursuing the sport in the first place. I tell people to go out and enjoy riding again. Go do your favorite loop, ride with that slower friend, ride with family, ride to your favorite lunch spot. Just have fun and remind yourself why you enjoy riding.

Luckily there is a little invention of cyclocross to help ease some of the off season blues. Cross is fun, a good hard effort and usually has beer afterwards!! This is also the time to focus on a few other things

There are a few basic concepts to an off season.

-Have fun:

As stated above its important to enjoy yourself once again. It is critical for your metal sanity to let your mind rest form a rigorous training method

-Improve that which you are week in

You can take the time to focus on weakness’s. During the season it is important to focus on this as well. But during the off season you can work on it much more with out worry that it might not be a good idea before “x” race. I know this might not be the most fun, but it can be treated as a goal and use this as motivation.

-Start strength training

Start hitting the gym once or twice a week with minimal weight. The idea is to get the soreness out of the legs (from lifting) before the base miles start again. Weight lifting can be fun, and really get some mental stamina back as well. This is also the appropriate time to rebuild any weakness from miles and miles on the bike.

-Cross train

Do you enjoy skiing? skating? or something else. This can be a great way to keep aerobic activity up but still do something fun and exciting. Go out there and enjoy!

-Set a Goal

Maybe there is a big late season race coming up. This is an excellent way to keep motivated. Just like the start of the season, set a goal and stick to it. There are several bodies of research that show how well the human psyche responds to goal setting and achieving.

What about a break?

Taking a break is very important, especially in a sport that is repetitious as cycling. If you consider the average training season is 4-500 hours long; that is 2 to 2.4 million pedal strokes. You need a break. For high endurance athletes (cyclist, some runners, long distance triathletes, adventure racers) your body can not maintain this for ever. You therefore need a break at some point. After a full season it is desirable to take 2 weeks or so off. I know I mentioned above you can and will loose some fitness, it is good to have cycles to everything during the training life.

Enjoy the off season.

Ride Hard


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