Mountain Bike Fitness Training - XC laps with Primal FitLab
by Janine Wolstenholme – Mountain Bike Mindset Coach and Founder of Zania Womens Mountain Bike Clothing
For the last couple of years I have been working with Adam my Personal Trainer at Primal FitLab and fellow mountain biker, he’s been helping me on my road back to health and fitness after a few years of being unwell (that’s a story for another day). We’ve been working on strength and fitness training and Adam wanted to mix things up a bit with some mountain bike fitness training. So he suggested I do some XC laps up at Parkwood Springs as part of my MTB fitness training. Gulp!! I can’t say I jumped at the chance. Not my cup of tea at all. But it happened all the same, so here’s how it went.
Initially I was like …..NO WAY, but the more I thought about my fitness and riding goals it made sense for me to challenge myself and try something new. The week leading up to the session I couldn’t help but think how I would manage to get round, what if I’m blowing out my arse, what if I couldn’t keep up, what if I couldn’t do it. All negative what if’s!! Then I decided to flip this negativity on its head …… what if I missed the opportunity to ride somewhere I hadn’t ridden in ages, an opportunity to challenge myself, push my limits and get a step closer to my goals and meet new people. With Adam's support and encouragement I took him up on the challenge.
I turned up on the morning of the session, it was cold and I needed to start moving fast. My kit for the session was my full suspension 150mm travel front and rear, flat pedals too ….. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, not exactly a set up for xc laps before anyone mentions it.
Adam took us on a sighting lap, it was a circuit he’d previously raced as part of the Midlands XC Race Series. Although it was a steady lap I had to pedal hard to follow the others (confirming my fitness isn't where it should be) this meant I skipped the warm up and straight into max heart rate! Who needs a warm up anyway!
Laps were 2.3 miles and made the most of the trails at Parkwood Springs taking in the dual track, main downhill track, fast and flowing berms and jumps and some sweet single track with the obvious ups, we had 4 intense xc laps to do in total.
I got into a steady pace on the next lap, I felt the need to compose myself, stay focused, regulate my breathing, ride my own laps and not think about the other guys, which is what I did. I had to keep pushing hard through to the end, a very different type of riding than I’m used to. It was certainly harder hitting the downhills at full pace after pedalling up, something I need to work on. Adam was a great guide and encouraged me all the way to the end. It was great to have his support. All in all I enjoyed the experience and will be doing it again very soon.
What did I learn?
1. It doesn’t matter what bike kit you’ve got you can still pedal it around a circuit, providing your bike is well maintained.
2. High intensity laps are full on and I realised that I can push my body more than my mind led me to believe.
3. It’s a challenge descending at your normal speed when you’ve been pushing it on the ups.I need more practice as this will help with training for enduro racing.
4. I underestimated the fact that I would need electrolyte replacement even though it was cold. Hmmm you’d think I’d know better with my experience.
5. I needed to find a balance between maintaining a steady pace throughout the xc laps although push myself to get the best out of the ride.
6. Initially I was panicking that I couldn't keep up with the others, this anxiety and stress was wasted energy and wasn't going to help me.
So why am I telling you this? 6 Tips for MTB Fitness
1. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and have a bash at something you’ve never done before. You may enjoy it and the sense of achievement is a real confidence boost.
2. Think outside the box when it comes to your mountain bike fitness training, make it fun and make sure it’s aligned to your goals.
3. Get yourself a personal trainer who understands mountain biking and the fitness required for you to develop and perform on your bike at your best. Who is supportive and encouraging.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others when out riding, ride your own ride/race, stay focused.
5. Say the right things to yourself when under pressure or challenging your ability or fitness.
6. Remember why you ride bikes in the first place…… for fun!!!