TRAINING FOR YOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE HOLIDAY
Mountain bike trips are an awe-inspiring way of seeing a country, and I wholeheartedly recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to go on one, to grasp it with both hands. But before you set off, most people will need to do some training to get the most out of their trip of a lifetime.
Riding for six or more hours a day, on consecutive days, will not only test your fitness levels but also your buttock resilience. To mentally and physically prepare yourself, begin training three months before you depart. In my experience, as tough as a bike trip is, the hardest part is getting off the sofa a couple of months before and making a start on training. Once you get on the bike the first time, it begins to get easier and everything falls into place.
TRAINING STARTS WITH THE ITINERARY
The first thing to do is check the itinerary. You need to know what you are training for. If you are taking a route where you do 50km a day on a flat road, you will not prepare yourself in the same way as you would for a route averaging 20km a day over steep elevation. Familiarise yourself with the itinerary to set your training goals.
BUILD UP YOUR DISTANCE
You want to build up to the stage where you can handle the average daily mileage with ease. Build up to it by around 10% a week. If your average daily mileage is 40km, for instance, you can start by riding 5 or 10km, 3 days a week for the first week, then increase it by 5km increments over the next 6 or 7 weeks. You should aim to peak 2 weeks before you depart, if you can tackle 40km three times a week, you will be in a great position to start your trip. In the final week, take some leisurely rides, but don’t push yourself too hard. You won’t increase your fitness this week, you will only fatigue yourself for the start of the trip.
DO SOME BALANCE WORK
If you are a total mountain biking novice, it might be worth doing some exercises to work on your balance. It will come in handy when tackling turns and obstacles on the trail. Exercises involving bosu balls and balance boards in the gym will help you build up a strong core and improve your balance and spatial awareness. Consult a member of staff at your gym for exercises involving medicine balls, bosu balls and balance boards, to improve your balance.
TRAINING FOR HILLS
It isn’t always easy to replicate hills in your training if you live in a flat area. If you route involves a lot of climbing, try and replicate this with interval training. Try riding flat out at a sprint pace for a minute, then go back to a very slow, leisurely pace, then push yourself flat out once more. Do these 10 times on your ride and you will have elevated your heart rate and prepared your muscles for the physical exertion of tackling a hill or incline section.
LEARN A LITTLE ABOUT BIKES
For mountain biking novices, it might be worth learning a little about the mechanics of a mountain bike before you set off. Nobody is expecting a fully qualified bike mechanic, but an idea of how to do the basics like repair a puncture or change a tyre will come in handy out on the trails.
Most of all, enjoy your training. This is your holiday after all. It may be daunting, and I’m sure a few weeks into your training plan when it’s raining out, and you’re halfway through a steep hill climb, you will mumble to yourself that a beach holiday in Bali doesn’t require any training- but persevere. A biking holiday is a once in a lifetime trip and gives you a sense of satisfaction and personal achievement that you just can’t get sipping cocktails on a beach.
Have you trained for a recent mountain biking holiday? How was it? Share your comments below.