How to improve your technique and cardiovascular capacity in mountain biking? Through structured outings and tips that rhyme performance and fun!
1. Be “Hot”, Especially in Cold Weather
If temperatures tend to warm up, early mornings can still surprise you with their cold, a factor that significantly diminishes muscle capacity. It is therefore essential to keep you warm to optimize your performance and avoid cramps or breakdowns.
Dress appropriately by favoring tuque, cuffs, leg warmers and thin layers that can eventually be stored in the back pockets of the jersey or a hydration bag.
Perform a proper warm-up including an activation period before even riding your bike. Prefer a course of increasing difficulty to gradually raise your body temperature and prepare your muscles for a more intense effort.
2. Like a Duck in the Water
Favor a fluid pedaling style and eliminate unnecessary movements. Keep the upper body stable and pedal quickly, but smoothly: the goal is to comfortably spin at 100 rotations per minute (RPM) without your trunk swinging up and down or “jump” on the saddle to adjust beforehand!
To maximize your pedal stroke and achieve a smoother ride style, you will need to minimize pedal idle when the foot is at the top and bottom. To do this, push the heels down, then pull your knees toward the handlebars.
Exercise in short intervals, concentrating on maintaining good technique: shoot as fast as possible (120 RPM or more) for short periods (30 seconds to a minute) interspersed with periods of rest, (two minutes to 80 RPM).
3. Play Derailleur
Change your speed frequently by adjusting the correct gear according to terrain variations to maintain a pedaling frequency between 80 and 100 RPM.
Climb, attack by grinding with velocity (more than 100 RPM) to overcome obstacles more efficiently, avoiding stepping on the ground! It is also better to change gears before undertaking an ascent so as not to break the tempo.
To tackle a slippery surface (e.g., roots, wet rock slab), opt for a lower frequency, about 80 RPM. To increase traction on this type of terrain, deflate the tires to 30 psi.
4. Technical Work
In the technical sections, make several consecutive passes to find balance and agility. Depending on your skills and your ease, gradually attack increasingly tricky obstacles by focusing on the trajectory and your fluidity.
Several obstacles are better crossed with speed; this notion may seem paradoxical, but in a daunting situation, you will have a better chance of succeeding by accelerating rather than braking!
Interval training, alternating between high effort and rest phases, is a great way to improve your Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP). Once you have completed a 20-minute bike warm-up, you can try one of the following three sessions:
A) Interval in successive small coasts
- Choose a hilly course
- Attack all climbs
- 100 RPM and + at 90% of your maximum effort
B) Longitudinal interval
- Choose a coast
- climb it five times in a row: 100 RPMet + at 75-80% of your maximum effort
- 10 minutes of rest when you reach 50-60% of your maximum effort
C) Timed Workouts
- Practice them every five minutes, regardless of the altitude difference
- 1 minute at 80-90 RPM at 85-90% of your maximum effort
- 5 minutes rest when you reach 50-60% of your maximum effort
6. Deep Descent
To excel downhill, you need a bit of technique and a certain amount of confidence. To improve the technical aspect, plan outings dedicated to the descent.
You could do the same thing five times in a row. Try to pedal constantly, be aggressive, but start with small gear. Each descent, you can increase gearing to accelerate further!
Take 10 minutes of rest between each extraction to visualize the controlled aspects, then the elements to improve. Gradually, you will gain confidence in your abilities …
Pamper (Too) Your Bike!
Before you escape to the woods, make sure your mount is in perfect condition. Make frequent tune-ups or bring your bike to the mechanic. A well-oiled machine will ensure optimal ride, facilitate shifting and allow safe braking.
Clean your bike at the end of each ride, especially if you have been riding in the mud or the rain. These little touches will extend the life of moving parts (derailleurs, chain, gear, bearings, pedals) while making your outings more enjoyable.
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