The start of any race can be crucial in deciding race outcome. When the trail narrows down to single track after the start, there is always a furious fight for the hole-shot. Getting that hole-shot and being first into the single track can be a huge advantage. If you are in the lead in the single track you can control the pace. On the flip side, there is nothing more infuriating in a race than getting stuck behind a rider who is slow through the single track.
Specific race starts workouts must be part of your training plan if you want to win short track and cross country races. Mountain bike starts are always an anaerobic effort for several minutes then a threshold effort for most of the rest of the race. The key to race start practice is training your legs to recover from an anaerobic effort while continuing at threshold pace.
To make the workout as specific as possible, simulate race conditions as closely as possible. Begin your workout with the warm up you plan on race day. This is something you should have dialed in long before race day. The starts workout involves a maximum effort followed immediately by a longer period at your lactate threshold (Friel heart rate zone 4-5a, Coggan power level 4) pace.
The Workout First warm up for 30 minutes. Then from a stand still with one foot on the ground, go max effort for 1 min. Drop to power level to 4 or heart rate zone 4 to 5a (LT threshold pace) for 5 minutes. Spin easy zone 1 back to start line. Repeat two to four times.
You can customize this workout to match your next peak race. Ideally, do this workout on the actual race course. Go max effort until you reach the single track then continue with your heart rate in zone 4-5a for another five minutes.
If you cannot travel to the race course, simulate the time to the single track for the max effort then continue at heart rate zone 4-5a for five more minutes.
This workout is a specific race workout and should be done in the four to six weeks prior to your peak race.