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Open MTB coaching, Dec 2014 Q & A recap

MTB coaching

Our open coaching day in December was busting at the seams! You guys kept me engaged non-stop all day talking about mountain bike training and racing. Good work everybody!!

This open MTB coaching day was sponsored by Elevated Legs. Use coupon code LWLEGS to get our LW Coaching special 10% discount.

Read on below to see all the great mountain bike training and racing questions from this months open MTB coaching day edition.


Douglas Kubler:  Can you compare the recovery from Elevated Legs with Compex?

Coach Lynda:  I can share my personal experience and feedback from my athletes but no link to a scientific study. After a season of using Elevated Legs all my athletes are report they are still using them and would not travel to an event without them. Athletes report fresher than expected legs after hard sessions when they have used the Elevated Legs. I don’t know anyone still consistently still using their Compex and do know athletes with that machine sitting in their closet unused. Sell your Compex and buy a pair of Elevated Legs is my recommendation!


Jeff Michenfelder:  I assume questions go here. If you had to pick 5 exercises to do off the bike to help you get stronger on the bike, what would they be?

Coach Lynda:  # 1 would be any rehab exercises required or body alignment exercises. If 100% healthy with nothing to rehab then the top five are: Planks, pull ups, front squats, dead lifts, box jumps.


Cor Ruiten:  I am about to transition from the masters xc base plan to the Build/peak/race plan and I see that the strength sessions are now based on 6RM and 15RM loads. Do you have any suggestions on how to determine those loads based on what I am currently lifting in the weeks 11-12 of the masters xc base plan?

Coach Lynda:  By this time after 24 sessions of structured training in the gym you should have a very accurate idea of what your 6RM load is. Go with your best estimate.


Timmy Gunn:  Base question, I work full-time so I have about 10-12 hours to train per week. does zone 2 really help or should I try to spend more time in zone 3 ?

Coach Lynda:  Generally, yes but the most accurate answer would depend on (1) what your goals are, (2) how many weeks of training time until your peak. There could be a lot of other things you could be doing to get more ROI on your training time.


Christina Probert Turner:  Hey Lynda, I will End my cx season in January , how much time is good to take off before I start training again? I would like to do a 200km road-gravel grinder the end of April what plan wily you suggest ? It would be the longest event I’ve ever done, I’ve done a few 50milers last yr, it will be about building a good base for next cx season.

Coach Lynda:  If you are 100% healthy and motivated, the minimum recovery time between seasons is a week off the bike followed by another week of low volume, low intensity recovery based activities. After those 2 weeks honestly assess how you feel and add another recovery week if you are not absolutely chomping at the bit to get going again.

Which gravel grinder? What is the date? What are your race goals? What is your time goal or estimated finish time?

Christina Probert Turner:  It’s a pseudo-gravel grinder called the SPY Belgian Waffle Ride, its road and dirt. April 26, I want to finish it, (but I know that I am highly competitive ) and it is so close after cx season, (I wish it was 6 months out). The fastest female time last yr was 8:02 so my goal is 9 hrs. My goal for next yr is to get in great shape; I want to feel strong on and off the bike. Not sure how to do that without burning out racing to much for cx season.

Coach Lynda:  Why don’t you take more of a break now and choose a goal event that is 6+ months out? A 9 hour race really is spending fitness and not great for base building for cx season. Races more in the 3-5 hour finish time are better. If cx is your ultimate goal, reconsider this event. If this gravel grinder is a big goal in itself then go for it knowing it is not the best route to cx performance.

Christina Probert Turner:  What is a good plan for after cx to maintain fitness than, I really don’t have any goals…I will gain some wt if I take too much time off, I want to do some strength training, some running and of course riding..I can mix in some Kenda Cups and the Sea Otter Race xc just cuz .

Feb 28 Vail mtb xc

March 12 Bonelli xc

March 21 Fontana xc

April 18 Sea Otter xc

May 16 Big Bear 50 miler

May 30 Big Bear 50 miler

June 13 BB state champs 50 miler Thx

Coach Lynda:  Christina, that looks like a great schedule. Then take a rest after June 13 and focus on cx prep.

Christina Probert Turner:  What plan should I do after cross for these? Base or 50 miler? I need some sort of structure. Thnx

Coach Lynda:  Christina, do an xc base plan and then 50 miler PR.

Christina Probert Turner:  Thx


John Karrasch:  What’s your favorite workout to develop power at high rpm for single-speed mtb racing?

Coach Lynda:  John, Rap ‘n coast zone 3 tempos.

Workout description from Single-Speed mountain bike Build, Peak and Race training plan.

Ride SS today geared to spend most of the ride on the high-end to spun out range of cadences when you are riding in heart rate zone 3 (power guidelines are not applicable to pace this workout). Warm up then ride a 60 minute interval with heart rate in zone 3. During this 60 min interval repeatedly rap cadence up until you are spun out, coast for a few seconds then rap again. Rap ‘n coast continuously in heart rate zone 3 for 60 minutes without a break. Finish the ride time at an easy pace. It is ok to cut the ride duration down to 90 mins today but keep the Rap ‘n Coast interval at 60 mins.

John Karrasch:  Oops! One more. What low cadence range on a ss would you consider it better to hop off and walk? 35 rpm ?

Coach Lynda:  That would depend on forces… are you on a bike path pedaling while eating an ice-cream or cranking up a hill?

John Karrasch:  Oh this would refer to a trail with like 15-20 % grade. Grind it out type climb. Pretty high force but really low cadence.

Coach Lynda:  John, in a race or in training?

John Karrasch:  Race I’d say. Although I’m curious what you’d suggest different for training as well!

Coach Lynda:  Is this the last steep hill in an XC race you have the lead for or the first steep hill in a 300 mile bikepacking race?

John Karrasch:  In the instance I’m thinking I’ll say 40 miles into a 50 mile race. I know it depends on lots but I remember seeing an interview with a 24 solo racer years ago who said his walk point was 30 rpm.

Coach Lynda:  John,  exactly – it depends. Weigh the cost of the action and the benefit in relation to the situation. One rule on when to get off is far too limiting. In training, ride everything and make yourself strong because there are only benefits. In racing your costs (trashed legs) may outweigh the benefits performance).


Mark T Snidero:  First, your training plans last year led to my best season ever of racing…thanks! After finishing the AML 400 and CFITT 250 in October and November I’ve basically taken 2+ weeks completely off. Next year’s racing plans are up on the air for at least the next month.

What I know: I’ll be racing some endurance races lasting 4 – 6 hours starting in March/April. I most likely will be racing in the Florida Divide Feb 28th (800+ miles). I may race a 24 hour race in October next year. What plan should I start now that will build a base for me to be highly competitive for whatever my plans will be next year. Thanks!

Coach Lynda:  Congrats on your best season ever and racing success – awesome!!! I’m stoked to hear that – thanks for sharing J

Give yourself plenty of recovery right now. Be honest with it as bikepacking fatigue can take 6 weeks to really unload. Right now you have 2 choices in your training (1) train to get faster with the winter training plan for endurance distance mountain bike racers (2) or train for Florida Divide with the 5-10 day bikepacking race training plan. With Florida Divide only being 12 weeks away you have to choose what your priority is. 800 mile bikepacking events make you weaker and slower.

Mark T Snidero:  Hmm…weaker and slower…I don’t like the sound of that I’ll pick up the mountain bike winter training program. If I decide to race the Florida Divide I’ll have to pivot and talk to you at that point. My kit & fueling are however dialed in at this point.

One question on the Winter MTB plan …I’m over 50, what changes if any would I make to this program?

Coach Lynda:  Here is an interesting study: Effects of an Ultra-Endurance Event on Body Composition, Exercise Performance and Markers of Clinical Health: A Case Study

No changes to the Winter plan for you. Like any age and any plan, add extra recovery, as in less training, better nutrition, more sleep etc if you are not unloading fatigue between training sessions.


Mike Welch:  Hi Lynda, I am looking ahead on my winter maintenance plan, On one of the days coming up ( AE ints, long) it says to train in zone 5 a-b. When I did my fitness test and entered it on the website it just showed zone 5 with no sub categories? Did I miss something?

Coach Lynda:  Aim for zone 5. This season I have moved away from sub-dividing zone 5 into a, b and c.


Luke Hurley:  One thing I always wondered is how does doing 45-60 min workouts with focused efforts on raising power, LT and VO2 max translate into a full tilt 1.5-2.5 XC race?

Coach Lynda:  Training a full XC distance and effort in a workout will leave you too trashed to train the next day. Being consistent in training and training most days is better than training one day then taking 5 days off to recover. It is about metering out your efforts to get the most performance benefits.


JoAnne Butts:   Hi Lynda, I’m wanting to get into mountain biking. What would be a good bike to get? And what would be a good starting off point?

Coach Lynda:  That’s great! Come ride with me when you are in StG! I always have extra loaner bikes. To find your own bike, visit a few local bike shops and test ride a few bikes to see what you like. Good main brands are Specialized, Trek and Giant but there are a ton of other really good brands. Most shops have demo days and demo bikes too. Another option is full suspension or hard tail (front suspension only). Both are great and have pro’s and con’s and either will work great for you. Find some friends and go ride!

Another really good way to get into mountain biking is to volunteer for the local high school mountain bike team as a ride leader. They will teach you skills and safety and then you have all these fun local kids to go ride with too! Here is a list of all the Utah teams with contact info. Which is the one nearest you? I always make our new ride leaders join in all the skills drills at practice.


Nancy Odle:  I am looking into getting a power meter, any recommendations?

Coach Lynda: Nancy, here is DC Rainmaker’s power meter buyers guide with more info than you can digest about power Currently I recommend the Stages PM for MTB racers.


James Berry:  Hi Lynda,

I’m a 52 Y/O male with about 30 years cycling experience. The last several years, my passion and focus has been cyclocross with half-dozen or so XC races (1-1.5 hours in duration) in the summer months. I haven’t done any structured intervals or training in years. I’ve used racing and training races to gain fitness. I also do strength training + crossfit 2-3 times a week (<15 min metcons).  I want more structure in my training. What would you recommend for training with the goal of weekly cyclocross racing mid-September – January? I would like to continue strength training as I feel it helps my overall fitness, can I incorporate weights into this?

Thank you

Coach Lynda: after you have rested and recovered from your cx season I recommend you stack a base training plan, then a build, peak and race plan to gain fitness for fall 2015 cx. The Masters 40+ training plans include strength training in the weekly schedule. You can sub out crossfit for the scheduled strength sessions. Follow first the Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Base Training Plan and then the Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Build Peak and Race Training Plan. These plans will train you to be fast at your summer xc events and prepare you for a strong cx season


Trish Albert:  I’m having sinus surgery Dec. 8 that cannot be postponed. I can ride easily after 7 days and train hard again after 10 days (Dec. 18). CX Nationals start Jan. 7. I’m in CX race shape now. What should I be doing between Dec. 18-Jan. 7 to be prepared and in the best possible shape? My goal is to not finish last in Masters Women 40-44. I have no chance of a Top 10, so I want to have MY best possible race. My ENT surgeon is a cyclist, so she is onboard with me training hard again ASAP after surgery.

Coach Lynda:  post-surgery take an aerobic base training week to get yourself going again. Then focus on race-pace specific training, particularly skill sets needed for the cx nationals course.


Chris Plesko:  When following the SS base and the peak plan when would be the best time for artificial high o2 workouts? Also as the SS peak plan ends and I transition into probably the 100 mile pr plan, when would a binge fit best?

Coach Lynda:  VO2 max workouts are the ones to target for sup O2 sessions. Do schedule extra recovery into the plan to unload the additional fatigue created by supp O2. The plan does not take this addition into account as-is. Without extra recovery you will expose yourself to over-training and performance decreases.

Describe your definition of a binge so I can tell you where that fits.


Barb Martin:  Hi Lynda — Recreational rider, mostly road during the week, doing about 80 miles a week (10 miles there a.m., 10 miles back p.m.) on a flat course (final mile home is up a steep hill) with no stops (ave 16-18 mph) riding to my office and back. I do hill repeats maybe every other week/2x a month for an hour. I mountain bike 1-2x a week maybe 10-15 miles. What’s a good jumpstart training plan for the next 4 months to race Cat 3 Sea  Otter XC route on April 19, 2015. It’s only 19 mi, but I don’t want to bog. 2014 finishing time range in my age group (Open women 60+) is 1:49:50 to 2:33:40.

Coach Lynda:  Barb, you have 19 weeks to train for Sea Otter. I recommend you follow the 12 week Masters 40+ cross country base training plan and then progress on to the Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Build Peak and Race Training Plan. Follow weeks 6-12 of this second plan to peak for Sea Otter.


James Maguire:  Hi Lynda, I am currently on my second round of using your 24hr PR program which gave me good results for Wembo last year. I have just completed the week 4 power test, felt sick immediately after the test and came down with cold like symptoms. Took the day off afterwards. And have come right. My question is I am intending on ignoring the numbers from the test, power and hr were down, but same distance on same course was covered. Should I redo the test next week and how to schedule it . Or just continue using my original numbers from the beginning of the program. I was tending towards the latter. Cheers.

Coach Lynda:  James, Continue to use your original numbers until you perceive your power has risen above those levels and you are bumping over all your levels in training – then retest in place of an interval session.


Kyle Wilhite: Just want to say thanks for what you do. I am really enjoying and benefiting from my first plan. Down 20 lbs and have 3 weeks left. Ready to start 100k training plan!! Enjoy hearing you on MTB Radio also!!

Coach Lynda:  Congrats Kyle, those are impressive results. Thanks for sharing. Awesome!!


Anthony Griffin:  I’m a 56-year-old club rider and mountain biker. I would like to finish some 6/12 hour and 50/100 mile races in 2015. I have not started base training yet and the first race is a 42 miler in March. What plan or plans should I purchase? Should I plan a later start since the 12 week base program itself would take me up to March?

Coach Lynda:  Start with a Base training plan then move on to the 100 miler or 12 hour plan. Use the early races as training experiences to learn more about endurance racing, pacing and fueling. Set your performance goals and season peak on your later races.


Kevin McMahan:  Hello Lynda, thank you once again for having these!

My questions are: I typically ride 5-6 days per week in the non winter months. Of those days, how many should be training days vs the amount of recovery days. Also the last 2 years I’ve told myself I’m going to continue working out during the year, but I end up riding just about everyday. I think I hit the gym a handful of times this summer. Last year you recommended I hit my core and that has helped me immensely. Do you have any more suggestions as to improving my biking? I interval train now, are there any particular exercises you’d recommend? I xc race for about an hour- hour and a half. Thanks again!

Coach Lynda:  Kevin, In general 2-3 training days and 2-3 recovery days per week is a good schedule. Improve the weaker parts of your racing for the best performance gains. For example, improve starts or hill climbs. Follow a cross country base plan then a cross country build, peak and race plan for your best season racing.


Norb DeKerchove:  Hey Lynda, I followed your Colorado Trail Race Training Plan for this year’s race. I was able to do about 80% of the plan and the last month was difficult due to some extraneous circumstances. I substituted Strength and Regeneration with Crossfit workouts and mobility work. Your plan, and the Crossfit workouts, got me through the race and the enormous amount of Hike-a-Bike. My question is….I am planning for the Arizona Trail Race (the 750 miler) in April and the plan was to generally follow your CTR plan. Any fine tuning I should consider

Coach Lynda:  I highly recommend switching to the Arizona Trail Race training plan.


Monica Desjardins:  Hi, I am 33y/o and have been riding for 6 years, and raced some these last 2. I prefer endurance events, such as 50 milers or 6hr races. I really don’t have a base or proper training to be very competitive at these events and have difficulty maintaining a consistent riding regime. I work 4 days on and 8 days off, and usually cannot ride my work days(13hr nights). Can you point me towards a plan that could work with my work schedule. I would like to perform well by april 25th for a 65 miler. My last 50 mile race was nov 22 and I felt pretty strong 2 days later.

Coach Lynda  I recommend you start 12/8 with the 12 week TIME CRUNCHED Category 1 Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan  Miss out the recovery rides and block the training days into your non-working days. On 13 hour work days, focus on sleeping and eating well with a short stretching session and no riding. You will have to move days around in the schedule to make this work with your shifts.

Then on 3/2/15 follow the 100 km Mountain Bike Race – Personal Record Plan. Again drop the recovery and low priority days and train only on your non-working days. Follow week’s #5 – 12 of this plan to peak for your 65 mile race on 4/25.


Scott Meulebroeck:  Hey Lynda, maybe I missed out on this but…. I’m from Minnesota, when should I arrive to a race at altitude. The day before? A week before??? Thanks!

Coach Lynda:  Arrive at altitude with as much time as you can before the race. The more time you have the better you will be adapted. A week is better than a day. 2 weeks before is better than 1 week.


Brandon Brown:  Hi Lynda, I am a Facebook rookie, so I am using my husband’s account to post a question. My husband forwards me all of your training tips and info. Thank you for everything that you do! I am looking to ramp up from a Cat 2 cross-country mtb racer to a somewhat competitive Cat 1 racer (Women 30-39). I had two strong seasons in Cat 2 racing but because of young kids and commitments, I was not ready until now to take it to the next level. What program(s) would you suggest for me to prepare for the Kenda Cup/US Cup Cat 1 XC racing beginning in late Feb 2015? I can ride (and am currently riding) 3-4 days a week, approximately 8-10 hours total. I also will be participating in a 55+ mile “Vision Quest” mtb endurance event in early April 2015, however would still like my training focus to be on the shorter Cat 1 XC races, if possible. Sorry if this is too much info  What program(s) would you suggest throughout the season? Thanks so much for your time, MB

Coach Lynda:  MB, I recommend starting asap with the  Category 1 Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan and then progressing on to the  Category 1 Cross Country Mountain Bike Build, Peak and Race Training Plan


Open MTB coaching, Dec 2014 Q & A recap was last modified: April 15th, 2015 by Lynda