Enduro Training: Time to pick up the pace!

March 18 — 2016

Kelli talks intervals and getting ready for race season.

Did you finally sign up for that Enduro race you always dreamed about doing, and now you’re left wondering, “how am I going to prepare for the challenge?”. Or, maybe, you’ve had ENOUGH with getting dropped on descents at your local group rides and you’re ready do something about it. If you want to be your best at descending, you need to start incorporating interval training into your riding routine to boost fitness and speed. Incorporate these intervals 3 days a week on your trainer or cross bike rides, and you’ll dust those guys on your local group ride and crush your racing goals.

It’s important to train how we want to race and ride, especially if time is limited. If your goal is to become faster at riding downhills or racing Enduros, long steady rides on the road bike may not be the best use of your time. We are rarely applying steady pedaling efforts while descending, and the majority of our efforts are not much longer than 7-10 seconds with high torque and/or high cadence. We are using immense pressure on the pedals to make it over rocks, roots, or accelerate out of corners. In one 5-10 minute downhill section of trail, we can do 50 or more short bursts. These interval workouts will prepare you those accelerations and kick your butt into shape!

Building Strength - Standing Start Sprints

These efforts are great for easing yourself back into riding after a long break off the bike. After a two weeks of this interval sessions and consistent riding, you’ll be ready to bump up the intensity. Extra credit? Do this after your weight training routine and you’ll transfer some of your strength gains from the gym to the bike.

Ready, Set, Sprint!

  • Shift into a difficult gear (big ring upfront, smallest cogs in rear cassette)
  • Come to a very slow roll or track stand (don’t unclip)
  • Sprint our of the saddle for as hard as you can for 8-10 seconds: the first couple pedals strokes should be very difficult.
  • Do 8-12 of these sprints throughout your ride.
  • Give yourself 5 minutes of easy to moderate riding between sprints.

Kelli demonstrates the standing start sprint

Building Speed - High Cadence Drills

Let’s get those legs moving! In mountain biking, we are often over-geared to get over tough obstacles and make it up steep climbs. Weight training can also deaden your cadence and make it very difficult to accelerate quickly. When we turn over our pedals faster, we get back up to speed after corners quicker, and put down those power pedal strokes to make it up rocky ledges and over slippery roots.

Ready, Set, Spin!

  • Shift into an easier gear (small chainring up front, bigger cogs in rear cassette)
  • Increase your cadence until you you start bouncing on the saddle
  • Once you feel yourself bouncing, slow your cadence down just a smidge
  • Hold that cadence for 3 to 5 minutes
  • Try for 5 intervals; increase length of each interval as it becomes easier

Endurance - Threshold Intervals

We can make our biggest gains in fitness by riding at 75% of our max heart rate for an extended period of time. This pace shouldn’t be too challenging at first, but after 10 minutes, it should be difficult to do anything but focus on breathing. This is a great building exercise for shorter, harder efforts and transferring uphills between stages.

Ready, Set, Go!

  • Find a moderate climb  (6%-8% grade) or shift into a harder gear.
  • Ride at 75% of your max heart rate for 8-10 minutes
  • Ride at easy zone 1 pace for 5 minutes after each effort
  • Do it again! Repeat these intervals 2-3 times

Building Power - Maximum Effort

Who doesn’t want more power to fly up those steep punchy climbs? I do!  Research has proven that doing 30 second maximum sprinting efforts can increase your overall power if done just two times a week.The more power we have, the faster we can climb and sprint. The goal of this workout is to make sure you ride very easy between sprints, so you're able to reach your maximum power.

Ready, Set, Sprint!

  • Shift into a harder gear or a steep climb
  • Standing sprint for ten seconds and then sit for the remainder 20 seconds
  • Shift into a harder gear to keep cadence low
  • After your sprint, shift to an easy gear and ride in zone 1 for 3-5 minutes
  • Start with 8 sprints and increase to 12 as you become stronger


Race or QOM Prep

Warning! This workout can be a stiff kick in the ol’ rump. I wouldn’t recommend trying this until you have a few weeks of consistent riding under your belt. This workout mimics the same type efforts as enduro racing; sprinting out of corners and pedaling over rocky, rooty technical terrain with only moments of coasting.

Ready, Start, Sprint!

  • You know the drill! Shift into a harder gear
  • From a slow roll, standing sprint for 10 seconds all out
  • Pedal easy for 20 seconds and then sprint again for another 10 seconds
  • Keep sprinting and riding easy till you fall over or 4-8 minutes
  • You’ll be whooped after 3 or 4 sets of 4-8 minute intervals, I promise!


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