All right, it’s been a while but I feel a rant coming on. Every once in a while I have to get something off my chest and sometimes people get offended in the process. Good, it’s been a while since I’ve pissed someone off…

One of my biggest pet peeves in life is when someone asks me “is your program for XC or is it geared more towards DH because around where I live we have a lot of XC riding.” There are 3 reasons this makes me want to slam my head into my keyboard.

1. I have a lot of XC riding where I live as well. Anyone who has been to the Grand Junction/ Fruita CO area will tell you that even the shuttle runs have a good bit of pedaling on them. I write programs for how I ride and how other mountain bikers I know ride so I assume that you are going to be going on longer trail rides –you wouldn’t be much of a mountain biker if you didn’t, would you?

2. There is feedback from XC riders/ racers on my website. In fact, I have testimonials posted on my blog from 24 hour riders, marathon racers, MegaAvalanche racers and many other types of riders. If the programs didn’t help endurance based mountain biking I wouldn’t have over 50% of my testimonials from them.

3. My biggest headache comes from the confusion between “XC riding” and “road riding on dirt”. The real question should be “are your programs for mountain biking or road riding on dirt”? Not sure what I mean? Here is a quick breakdown so you know which category you fall into:

– Mountain Biking: This is riding a bike on singletrack that contains rocks, ledges, roots, stumps, jumps, drops, berms and steep pitches (both up and down) or some combination thereof. It also entails actually riding said features and not simply walking everything that intimidates you or, worse yet, changing the trail so you don’t have to dismount. Mountain biking requires a tremendous amount of upper body, hip and core strength as well as technical skills, balance and anaerobic endurance.

– Road Riding on Dirt: Road riding on dirt is characterized by long, uneventful miles on double track or jeep roads/ fire roads. All you really need to be able to do is keep your legs spinning – just like on the road. Technical features are avoided and seen as an annoyance in the quest to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. Road riding on dirt requires more “sit and spin” endurance and doesn’t require the core strength, upper body strength or technical skills needed on a mountain bike trail.

Now, most of you are reading that list saying that the mountain biker sounds like you, or at least you would like it to. Therein lies the problem – you’ve been lied to and lead to believe that programs geared towards road riding on dirt are the best way to get better at mountain biking. The truth is that mountain biking, even regular trail riding, is a much different sport than road riding and programs heavily influenced by road riding will get you better at road riding on dirt but not real mountain biking.

I am writing this so that I can help riders, especially XC riders, understand that in order to see significant results on the trail you have to train like a mountain biker, not a roadie on dirt. You can’t simply pedal your way to being a great mountain biker, you have to work on specific strength, power, mobility and technical skills just like any other athlete would. Just because they both take place on a bike doesn’t mean that road riding and mountain biking require the same physical qualities and technical skill level.

So, in answer to the real question, my programs are for mountain biking. If your main goal is to improve your “sit and spin” endurance so you can pound out boring mile after boring mile then they probably aren’t for you. However, if you want to ride trail faster, longer and with more confidence then nothing could be a better investment for you.

-James Wilson-

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