Mountain Bike Fitness
Mountain biking's need for speed can get you buffed and in sync with your surfing.
Downhill Riding Downhill mountain biking is basically a race against the clock down a mountain trail. Races usually last around 3 - 6 minutes and are designed with both high speed and tight technical sections. Downhill can be extremely physically demanding and it is great for developing technical skills and strength.
Cross-country Riding Cross country racing is definitely more endurance based. An event can go for up to 2.5 hours for the elite competitors. There are different length races, depending on what level you are at. The courses vary in distance, difficulty, and terrain. Racing aside, being on a mountain bike is a great social sport. It can be alot of fun to go out riding with a group of friends, whether you go out for 45 minutes or even the whole day. Even just taking the long way to your friend's house can become an adventurous way to get fit and have fun.
Drawing Lines Picking the right line can be the difference between a fast and a slow time, it helps you to stay smooth and keep on the bike. When you watch the best riders; bikes, surf or snow they seem effortless, they can make the harshest terrain seem smooth. That is because of the line they choose. They are able to weave their way past anything that could put them off and seem to do it in a fluid motion. Of course this is much easier said than done, but in downhill when I am choosing my lines I focus on keeping fluid and maintaining my momentum. It can be a good idea to try and imagine water flowing down a course, thinking about where it would flow and then following that. I try to imagine water flowing down a course, where would it flow? That is the line I try to take.
Balance Riding a bike, just like surfing and snowboarding is all about balance. Like the old saying goes, “It’s like riding a bike, once you learn you will never forget”. Because once you learn how to balance you can feel comfortable on the bike, and it begins to feel quite natural. The better your balance the more relaxed you will feel and it is a skill that can help you with anything. Whether you have learned balance through riding a bike, surfing, gymnastics or you are just a natural, it is a skill that will allow you to pick up any sport quicker. I didn't start cycling until I was 20, but I had snowboarded for eight years before that. Everything I learned from snowboarding made riding a mountain bike easier, from being comfortable with going fast, choosing my lines, balance and most importantly, learning my limits. But the same goes for riding a bike, everything I have learned through cycling would also make me a better snowboarder.
Endurance Fitness is the base for everything you do and how well you can do it. Whether you want to ride fast for a short time or a long time, endurance will let you do it better. I race and train for downhill. My races last only for 5-6 minutes, but my training has to include endurance, strength and sprint. My training is actually not that much different to elite cross country riders, it is just the proportions for each element that change.
Your top tips on progressing from the starters level to the next... To progress you should ask questions, keep riding and most importantly, have fun...
"Mountain Bike Fitness" SurfGirl Magazine, Spring 2002 Issue.