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More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday Photo: In2Adventure

More Matches to Burn – Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday

In cross triathlon, not only is the type of bike used completely different than it’s road counterpart, but the type of physical effort is drastically different as well. Racing on the road is all about staying in zones, whether that be power or heart rate, and staying consistent. Off-road couldn’t be further from that. You may have to hammer up a steep incline going completely to red line, then settle back down to race pace for a minute or two, then recover for 30 seconds on a downhill, then stand and sprint again, then dive into a corner and sprint out of it, and repeat any combination of all of those over and over again for 1 to 2 hours.

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday Photo: In2Adventure
Photo: In2Adventure

Think of it this way, you have a book of matches. Every time you attack a hill, sprint to pass a competitor, power through a difficult section, or accelerate out of a corner, you burn a match. You have a finite number of those matches, and your goal should be to finish using those up at the end of the bike (not sooner).

When a course is undulating, curves like a snake, and is anything but consistent, you can guarantee it’s easy to burn through your matches quickly. To help you increase the number of matches in your book, we’ve created two fun, sprint filled mountain bike workouts. These workouts are a great fit if you are preparing for a rolling, curvy course like the 2016 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship coming up this November. These workouts are brought to you by In2Adventure.

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday In2adventure

Inverted Sprints

This workout will take you through several sets of sprints that will help you be prepared for whatever the trail throws at you. After the warm up, you’ll do a set of sprints on a one minute interval. As you progress through the set, the duration of each sprint will shorten, but the intensity will increase. By the final sprint of the set, you’ll be throwing down everything you have while trying to keep your lunch from coming up. There is plenty of rest built in, so make sure to hit those sprints with everything you’ve got.

We’re going to burn all your matches now, so that you’ll have more on race day.

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday Photo: In2Adventure
Photo: In2Adventure

Warm Up

  • 10-15 minutes of casual riding.
  • 1x 3 minute moderately hard effort – This isn’t an all out sprint, but a moderately hard effort that should leave you breathing hard and sweating a little.
  • 3x 30 second builds – over 30 seconds build from easy to fast. Recover 2-3 minutes between each build.

Main Set

After completing an adequate warm up, you will go through the following set several times depending on your ability level. Beginner athletes should perform 1-2 sets. Advanced athletes should do 3-4 sets. A sign of when you should be finished is when your 10 second sprint isn’t much of a sprint. Make sure that as the duration decreases, the effort increases.

50 second sprint 10 second recovery
40 second sprint 20 second recovery
1 set = 3x 30 second sprint 30 second recovery
20 second sprint 40 second recovery
10 second sprint 50 second recovery

Tip: Stand for the first 10 seconds of every sprint, then sit down for the remainder, but don’t back off the effort/power once you sit. 

Cool Down

  • 15-20 minute easy riding. Make sure to spin those legs out to flush the lactate acid.

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday In2adventure

4 Minute Repeats with Punches

The goal of this workout is to simulate a scenario when you are riding at race pace, then must accelerate to get over a rock, up a little hill, or as you come out of a corner and then resume race pace again. Each repeat will consist of riding at race pace for four minutes, while mixing in an all out 10 second sprint at the start of each minute.

This set will help you learn to feel what burning a match is like in a race. Towards the end of the set, you’ll realize when you’ve burnt one match to many. But don’t worry, this workout will help you add another match or two to your booklet.

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday Photo: In2Adventure
Photo: In2Adventure

Warm Up

  • 15-20 minute casual riding.
  • 2x 2 minutes moderately hard effort – This isn’t an all out sprint, but a moderately hard effort that should leave you breathing hard and sweating a little. Recover 2-3 minutes between each effort.
  • 3x 30 second builds – over 30 seconds build from easy to fast. Recover 2-3 minutes between each build.

Main Set

  • 4 minute repeats with 10 second sprints. This 4 minute effort will be at race pace. Start with a 10 second, all out sprint (stand up). Ride the next 50 seconds at race pace. You keep repeating this pattern until you hit 4 minutes (that’s 4x through that pattern). It is important that you hold race pace when you come down from the sprint. It will be difficult and it will hurt, but that’s the point. Don’t back off and recovery during the 4 minutes, that will come afterwards.
  • Recover 4 minutes between each set.
  • Beginner athletes should perform 4-5 repeats, while advanced athletes should do 7-8 repeats.

Cool Down

  • 15-20 minute easy riding. Make sure to spin those legs out to flush the lactate acid. Even if you’re legs are complete toasted, just keep spinning those pedals easy. Your legs will thank you later.

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday In2adventure

Where This Will Help

One example of trails where these type of workouts will be beneficial, are the tracks at Lake Crackenback Resort in the Snowy Mountains of Australia. The video below, shot by Max Luong, shows some of the trails in the 2016 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship mountain bike course.

This article is brought to you by…

More Matches to Burn - Mountain Bike Workout Wednesday - In2Adventure

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About Will Kelsay

Will Kelsay is one of the top cross triathletes in the world with a 10 year career spanning 5 continents competing in more than 18 countries. He has 20 career wins and more than 70 top 5 finishes. Anyone who has met him knows his passion for the sport is only overshadowed by his huge smile & his appetite for fun.

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