August
25

Rider Emails Q&A

Q: I have been training all spring and summer for a 40 mile mountain bike race in September.  The race is not a technical race at all it is 40 miles of logging trails and cross country ski trails.   The trails are filled with tons of hills, one right after another.  For my training I have been doing more road riding and have been attacking the hills standing (this is new for me) and doing some threshold training.  I feel stronger than ever.

My question is on a long race with tons of hills will I burn out faster if I take the hills standing up, or would I burn out faster if I did the slow grinds sitting down up the hills?  Also any tips on the best form for standing like where my body should be positioned over the bike so I get the most power from my legs and traction with my rear wheel.

A: I wouldn’t go for a wholesale change in how you pedal right before a big race. You’ll do best with what you know best, although you should probably try to stand and attack a bit more. Even though you can train yourself to have much greater endurance when standing you still have to build that endurance.

As far as body position, this is a common question and one I’m going to have to do a video on to cover. It comes down to keeping a totally straight spine, any rounding will throw your weight too far forward and you’ll lose traction. It is a body position thin and Its on my short list of videos to shoot. Hope this helps…

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Q: Thanks for the follow up email. I was planning on doing a few of the workouts in the next couple of weeks to familiarize myself with the program, but seeing as I live in Alberta, our summers fly by, so I want to get in as much riding while I still can!  I am taking an extended vacation in September, so I plan to start doing the off season program regularly in October.  I have already adopted the nutrition plan and I am confident it will work as I’ve noticed I’m not waiting until I’m ravenous to eat, therefore my meals tend to be smaller and I’m making better choices for each meal.
I have a question regarding the cardio training portion of the program.  My goal for next season is to compete in one “marathon” XC race (typically 4+ hours), ride several enduro trails such as the 7 Summits in Rossland, BC, and a trip to Utah/Colorado for consecutive days of riding.  I understand the purpose of interval training and have used it successfully in the past, however I typically included intervals in longer aerobic conditioning training sessions in the off season (In the off season I can’t hit any trails even for occasional rides due to the weather).  I am concerned that by strictly doing intervals that the maximum amount of time in the saddle at any given time would be approximately 1 hour.  When it comes time to do those “epic” rides I am concerned that I may not have enough juice 2 or 3 + hours into the ride to continue.  I just wouldn’t be accustomed to it.  Can you please provide some guidance.

A: Yeah, intervals can get a bit confusing. You have to remember that since your heart rate is above the “aerobic training zone” the entire workout your getting cardio benefits even if when your recovering. Plus, studies have shown that intervals increase markers of aerobic fitness better than aerobic training does. Lastly, no one has ever contacted me telling me that they feel great on the climbs and other hard efforts but they need more work on their sub-max efforts – I always hear that they feel like they are going to blow up on the climbs and hard efforts no matter how much “base training” they do.

I have testimonials from guys who have done multi-day stage races utilizing my program and they did better than they expected. Strength, mobility and anaerobic endurance play bigger roles than just “cardio” and when you create a synergy in your training you don’t have to hammer one over-done aspect as much. You’ll achieve more with less becuase your operating at peak efficiency.

Now, with that said you’ll still need to ride your bike and put in some longer training rides, you just don’t need to have that being the focal point of your training. In fact, if your like most riders you’re a lot closer to your max in that area than in strength, mobility and anaerobic endurance so you’ll get more from putting those front and center right now.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions…

-James Wilson-

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James Wilson
Author and Professional
Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson