Mountain Biking: Leadville 100 Race Training Plan, 4.25-20 hrs/wk (only 1 wk @20 hrs)

As a multiple-time Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race finisher, Gale Bernhardt knows what it takes to be successful on the course. She has a full range of trophies including the Last Ass Over the Pass, two first in category mining pans and she's one of the few women possessing the coveted 1,000 mile buckle for successfully completing 10 Leadville 100 races. Additionally, she has coached others to successful finishes - she can help you succeed.

This 28-week training plan is a performance plan written specifically for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race and includes tcx files for training on the course. Because of the difficulty of the Leadville 100 course, weekly instructions include climbing goals. If you live in a location where elevation gain is not possible, the plan gives instructions for simulating climbs as well as goal times for simulated climb training.

The plan begins with preparation training (base or off-season) to get you ready for the work to come. Training in weeks 1 through 15 include a strength training program and take winter riding conditions into consideration. That is, long rides are capped at three hours and weekly training volume stays at nine hours or less.

The training is structured so that lactate threshold power (and speed) is increased before training volume increases. This format gives you a bigger aerobic engine so that you can go faster at an aerobic energy cost. This adaptation is critical for Leadville 100 racing.

As you move into the next major block of training, weeks 16 through 28, weekly training volume is between roughly six and 14 hours per week. A big training week (18-22 hours) is planned three weeks prior to race day. This design is for cyclists that plan to travel to Colorado three weeks prior to race day for altitude acclimatization. It can also be used by Colorado Front Range cyclists aiming to train on the course prior to race day. As mentioned previously, tcx files are included so you don't get lost on training rides.

The big training week can be moved to four weeks prior to race day or two weeks prior, but I would not recommend including the big week two weeks prior to race day. However, you can break the course into smaller pieces and train on those segments within two weeks of race day. I don't want you wiped out from training by the time you get to the start line.

It is impossible to include all training modifications in a single document. If you have special needs for your training, or you want to include a qualifier race in your training, consider scheduling a consulting session with Gale. You can find more information on training plan consulting on her website at

You can find additional plan information on my blog at this link.

Additional information is included with the plan in the form of a 21-page pdf file. For example, there are tips for training and racing at altitude, race day strategies and more.


Take a look at the plan preview. The first week should be very manageable to you, before beginning the plan. If your current fitness is lacking, you will need to modify the plan. Some modification tips are included.

Within the first 15 weeks of the plan, you will find lactate threshold and some anaerobic work. The purpose of this work for an experienced cyclist is to raise your lactate threshold heart rate and speed. If your lactate threshold moves from 80 percent of your maximum heart rate to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, you’ve increased the capacity of your aerobic engine. For example if your maximum heart rate is 185 and you can move your lactate threshold from a heart rate of 148 to 167, you’ve got a larger aerobic engine. This pays big dividends in an event that lasts some seven to twelve hours.

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