don’t need to be a racer to benefit from
this type of training. There is something genuinely fun about forcing
yourself to go slow. The pressure of
intense workouts is replaced by the
ease of long rides with some friends at
a conversational pace.
Try to take one day a week, most
likely on the weekend, and plan an
epic ride with your buddies. Head out
for four or five hours and explore new
trails. Take it easy on the climbs and
still rip the downhills. Be sure to bring
plenty of food and water, and keep
everyone chatting on the climbs. Rides
start to get too hard when the conversation stops and you find yourself
inadvertently racing each other, one
half-wheel at a time.
CHARGE UP THE LIGHTS
As your season draws near, you will
want to add some intensity to your
rides to add some punch to your new-found base. The simplest form of this
type of training is intervals. Intervals
Skills clinic: While it is a good idea to take it easy on the climbs early in the year, that
doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of the downhills.
Keep it civil: It’s easy to let your competitive side take over when riding with
friends. When gasping breaths replace
conversation, try to back it down a notch.
are essentially timed efforts and rest
periods in succession.
While racers will look to very specific workouts with a certain number of
intervals at a certain intensity, there is
an easier way to integrate this into
your regular mountain bike rides.
Ideally, pick a ride with shorter climbs
(two to three minutes) and some
rolling mellow terrain in between. As
soon as you hit the climb, work as hard
as you can until you crest the climb. As
soon as you are over the top, back
down your effort to a cruising pace
until the next climb.
If you don’t know of a trail like
this, you can break up one big climb
into sections where you hammer for a
few minutes, and then back it off for
a few minutes and repeat. Or, hit a
short climb hard, and then turn
around and use the downhill as a
recovery period before climbing back
up again. These work just as well.
The bottom line is, you want to be
training your body to recover from
these hard efforts and be ready to hit
it again when the time for the big
race or epic ride comes along. ;
Intervals at work: There is a reason intervals are important in training. The inconsistent
pace of most cross-country races mirrors the efforts you should be putting in before you
show up to the first race.