Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mountain Bike XC Racers

Mountain Bike Desert

Mountain Biking is fun and most people can do it well enough, but if you race XC, then these are the things you need to do it well and win races.  If you have all of these traits, I’m pretty sure you’re doing well already in racing.  Most of us don’t, but are on a journey to get as close as we can.

1 kilogram times height (in inches) or better

Mountain Bike Cross Country has a lot of climbing.  If your goal is max performance, then you have to maximize power to weight ratio.  That means getting lean.. getting to a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight per inch of height…. and don’t starve yourself, you have to keep the muscle.

If you need to lose weight and gain strength, try my training plan below.  Use Coupon GOWARPSPEED to get it 50% off.

MTB XC Base Phase Lose Weight and Gain Strength

Bike Handling

Yeah of course… you need to be able to handle tight, technical trails with rocks, roots, switchbacks, mud, short & steep climbs… you need to like being on the bike.  The bike has to be an extension of you, a part of you.  Alone you’re slow, but with the bike you are part human, part machine that can go fast, skillfully and efficiently.

I got no plan for this, just ride more and get better.

Big Engine (Lactate Threshold)

Racing will be near lactate threshold a lot of the time.  The longer the race, the less this will be true and the heart rate zones will be lower.  For a 6 mile sprint event, the whole race will be at close to max heart rate, but at a 100 mile event, racers will have to pace down and manage their energy.  But, most races are somewhere between these distances, where racers are close to their Lactate Threshold heart rate. 

If you need to work on this, check out the training plan below.  It has interval sessions for this purpose.  Use coupon GOWS2 to get 50% off.

MTB Cross-Country Build Phase (Sport Class) Training Plan

Pain Tolerance and Focus

Relating to the previous section, it will hurt to push the lactate threshold during the race.  Athletes will have to tolerate the pain signals from their legs (and the rest of their aching muscles) while keeping focus on keep speed up through obstacles and keeping their attention on the race and what they need to do to beat their competition.  The athlete will have to push the pain signals down the stack and while knowing they are there, being able to instead focus on the immediate race situation.

Love the rush, lack the fear

“The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.” – Julie Furtado

Be an adrenaline junkie.  This is an extreme sport.  There is an element of danger.  If you are one of those types of people, then you will succeed more than others who hold back.  

Commitment to training

Athletes that follow a training plan and go out for rides and training for a purpose each time will make the most of their training and their ability to do their best.  People who have busy lives, but also want to be at the top of XC racing need to maximize their training time.  These racers get a plan that fits, or they get a coach who can work with them to build a plan for training.  They peak for their important races each year so that they can really put in a top level effort.

Ability to recover

As athletes get older, the ability to recover from tough training sessions gets harder.  So being young helps.  Unfortunately, no one is getting younger, so our ability to recover is constantly decreasing with age.  High level XC racers do the things to help the recovery process so that they can bounce back strong and do the training for the next day.  They maximize their rest days.  Maximize sleep.  Lower stress.  Not eating processed foods, which cause stress to the system.

These traits are my opinions, don’t think I have the only answer to this.  If you have some input on this, let me know and I’ll probably learn something.


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