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Cross Country MTB Race Starts Workout

Use this cross country MTB race starts workout to be the fastest off the start line at your next cross country mountain bike race.

cross country race start

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. This can quickly create a race-winning time gap between you and the leader.

cross country mtb race starts workout

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, and then a threshold effort for most of the rest of the race. The key to strong race starts is training your legs to recover from an anaerobic effort while continuing at threshold pace.

Make your cross country mtb race starts workout specific by simulating race conditions as closely as possible. Gather some team-mates for the practice to add competition, motivation, and to train your ability to stay at speed in a crowded situation. Negotiating close calls, rubbing elbows and changing position within the starting pack are trainable factors.

Begin your workout with your race-day warm-up. This is something you should have dialed in long before race day. Use this workout as an opportunity to practice it. This starts workout involves a maximum effort followed immediately by a longer period at your threshold pace (Friel heart rate zone 4 to 5 or Coggan power level 4).

The Cross Country MTB Race Starts Workout

Practice your race-day warm-up. Then set up a start line and have a coach announce a count-down.

“Rider’s ready, 3, 2, 1, go!

Start from a stand still with one foot on the ground, clip into the pedals quickly and ride at maximum effort for 1 minute. After this 1 minute at max, drop to power level 4 or heart rate zone 4 to 5 (threshold pace) and ride for more 5 minutes at this pace. Take 5 to 6 minutes recovery riding easy in heart rate zone 1 after each effort. Repeat two to four times.

Customize this workout to match your next peak race by doing this workout on the actual race course. Ride max effort until you reach the single-track then continue with your heart rate in zone 4 to 5 or power at level 4 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 to 5 or power at level 4 for five more minutes.

This cross country mtb race starts workout is a specific race workout and should be done in the four to six weeks prior to your peak race.


Coach Lynda

Coach Lynda’s workout tip: During this cross country mtb race starts workout, practice your starts in different gears until you have your fastest combination. Remember this gear for race day. The goal is to accelerate quickly from stopped. The fastest starting gear is a balance between force and cadence. Choose a gear where you can turn the cranks quickly up to speed from a standstill without having to immediately shift into a harder gear.


By Lynda Wallenfels Google+

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