From Ski Shape to Mountain Bike Race Shape in 8 Weeks

Monday, March 9, 2015 | By Lynda Wallenfels
 
 
 
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From Ski Shape to Mountain Bike Race Shape in 8 Weeks

You’ve skied all winter and your first mountain bike race is in eight weeks. How do you get into mountain bike race shape in two months?

Luckily, after season of skiing you will have great core strength, leg strength, and endurance. These are top priorities for mountain bike base training. That means you come off the slopes with ski fitness you can use and massage nicely into bike fitness in eight weeks.

Now let’s look at what you don’t have: saddle time, sport specific movement adaptation, threshold power, VO2max power, sprint power and technical ride skills. These are the areas to focus on in your eight week mountain bike training plan.

Start with caution. Spring weather can fire up the mountain bike stoke but it is important to ease into a bike training routine. Sure, you are adapted and hardened for skiing, but mountain biking uses different muscle groups and movement patterns. Gradually building up your mountain bike training hours is important to avoid those too-much, too-soon, overuse injuries.

The first week of your eight weeks to mountain bike domination plan is a great time to introduce new equipment. A new bike and shoes take time to adapt to, so batch them up with the start of your training plan while everything feels new. In week one, take your new gear into a bike fit expert to get set-up correctly. This is good insurance to avoid any bike fit issues. With only eight weeks to your first race you have little time to absorb any equipment set-backs or bike-fit related injuries.  

Strength

Your skiing strength will carry over nicely. Put strength training into maintenance mode. Focus on core strength, personal weaknesses and rehabbing any lingering injury. Each week do 3 x 30 minute core and rehab training sessions and stretch for 10 minutes daily.

Technical Ride Skills

Riding trails and dry dirt to polish up your rusty ride skills is a priority. Start back on the single-track at an easy pace and gradually build up to race pace over a few weeks. Taking a skills class early on is a good way to fast-track this ability.

The Eight Week Ski Shape to Race Shape Plan

Here’s the weekly breakdown.

Week #1 

The best use of your first week of bike training time may be as a rest week to unload your skiing fatigue. Be honest with how tired you are coming off ski season. Start your bike training fresh. Spend week one getting your bike set up, bike fit done, and put in a few short easy rides on trails. Find some dry dirt and get your single-track groove back on. Also during the first week, do a performance test to set a performance benchmark, heart rate training zones and power training levels. If you start this week rested, do the test early in the week. If you start this week tired, do the test after logging several rest days.

Week #2: Ride three to four times this week.  

  1. VO2max intervals: 15 x alternating 30 seconds hard with 30 seconds easy.
  2. Tempo: 45 minutes at tempo pace.
  3. Trail ride in the dirt with focus on technical ride skills.
  4. Add a fourth ride if your body is still feeling fresh with another trail ride in the dirt with focus on technical ride skills.

Week #3: Ride four to five times this week.

  1. VO2max intervals: 15 x alternating 30 seconds hard with 30 seconds easy.
  2. Tempo: 60 minutes at tempo pace.
  3. Long aerobic ride in the dirt. Duration of this ride is 2 to 4 hours depending on length of your peak race. Choose longer for endurance races and shorter for cross-country races.
  4. Trail ride in the dirt with focus on technical ride skills.
  5. Short recovery spin. Miss this out in favor of passive rest if very tired or busy. This is a low priority ride.

Week #4: Rest week

Take it easy and unload your training fatigue to prepare for the next training block. Add a performance benchmark test later in the week and compare it to your test in week #1. Adjust your heart rate training zones and power training levels to match your performance gains.

Week #5: Ride four to five times. This is the week to add in race-specific workouts.

Cross-Country Focus

  1. Race starts
  2. Short-track
  3. Skills at race pace
  4. Endurance
  5. Recovery

Endurance Focus

  1. Threshold
  2. Tempo climbing
  3. Skills at race pace
  4. Endurance
  5. Recovery

Week #6: Ride four to five times this week.

Cross-Country Focus

  1. Race starts
  2. Short-track
  3. Skills at race pace
  4. Practice race or race pace group ride
  5. Recovery

Endurance Focus

  1. Threshold
  2. Tempo climbing
  3. Skills at race pace
  4. Race pace group ride
  5. Recovery

Week #7: Rest Week 

Take it easy and unload training fatigue to prepare for racing next week.

Week #8: Race week.

Workout order is important in race week to arrive at your race fresh and ready to fly.

  • Monday: Rest day off the bike. Normal core training session.
  • Tuesday: Opener session.
  • Wednesday: Cross-country focused racers do a low volume threshold session. Endurance focused racers do a low volume tempo session. Both groups do a half volume core training session.
  • Thursday: Rest day off the bike.
  • Friday : Course pre-ride.
  • Saturday: Race fast and fly!

Turn over your ski fitness into mountain bike race fitness and be ready to fly through your event in eight weeks flat.

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