The Second Half of Mountain Bike Season

Wendel and Oliver Knott ride their bikes

My sons, Wendel and Oliver, have been training hard for the kid’s race at Alum Creek. Wendel, age 5, just upgraded to a new bike with 16 inch wheels (not pictured). Oliver is reluctant to learn how to pedal, but he flies down hills at light speed on his balance bike.

Six weeks of nothing.

Not exactly nothing…  just six weeks with no races.

There was a clump of races in the early spring leading up to my longest race of the year, the Mohican 100.  With that over and done, there is a six week gap before the next XC mountain bike race at S&S Trails near Zanesville, Ohio.

This actually worked out perfectly for me in terms of training.  I was able to divide the season into two halves.  Even though, most of my races in the spring were XC races between 10 and 25 miles, I focused most of training on building endurance for the Mohican 100.  This allowed me to construct a good base of fitness early in the year.

My structured workouts were focused mainly on the lower power zones of endurance, tempo and lactate threshold.  Even when I did interval training it was longer intervals with lower intensities.  I only logged a handful of standing VO2Max intervals to mix things up and work on my upright pedaling.  But, my training will start to change quite a bit in the coming weeks.

James Knott's workout white board

My magic white board with all my stats. The latest Functional Threshold Power test came in at 292 watts.

I have been using the first part of my six weeks off to recover a little bit.  The week after the Mohican 100 I did some light spinning and some running.  My first intense workout was a functional threshold power (FTP) test.  I scored 292 watts, an all-time high, 7 watts higher than where I was at the previous month, a 2.4 percent gain.  This was offset in my power-to-weight ratio a little by the 5 extra pounds I put on.  It’s also 3 watts higher than my peak last season.  Hopefully, I can score a few more FTP watts later in the season.

I also used that test to find my lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) for the first time.  It was 153 beats per minute.  This is the approximate point where lactate is building up in your muscles faster than your body can expel it.  I hope to use this information to build heart rate zones and design workouts based on my heart rate.  As a bonus, it’s definitely helpful to have this information when the power meter runs out of batteries and you need to change your planned workout on the fly.

Knowing both your FTP and LTHR is a good way of gauging your inputs and outputs.  Heart rate measures the effort you put into your riding, while power measures the output of those efforts.  Your LTHR isn’t supposed to change much over time, so your goal as an athlete is be able to produce more power at that heart rate as your body becomes more effiicient.

How will my training change?  Here is a typical workout week for the second half:

  • Monday – off
  • Tuesday – Sweet Spot Intervals on the spin bike – to help build FTP
  • Wednesday – 60 Minutes of running on Treadmill
  • Thursday – Some mix of VO2Max, Anaerobic and Neuromuscluar Intervals on the spin bike
  • Friday – off
  • Saturday – 3-4 hour ride with plenty of singletrack mixed in if the weather/schedule allows
  • Sunday – Long Run outside, between 8 and 15 miles (I’m still training for my marathon in December)
Wine blind taste test tournament.

June Madness: My wife Chrissy and I have been slowly working our way through a wine blind taste test tournament to determine our favorite styles. This does not help my mountain bike racing, but it is fun. Once we determine our favorite style, we plan on buying 8 different brands in that style and finding out which we’d like to have as our house wine.

3 days of riding per week.  How does this compare to your workout schedule?  Let me know in the comment section.

I’m hoping to try and squeeze a few more mid-week mountain bike miles in but it’s going to be tough from a scheduling point of view.  During the work week, I need to be done with my training by 6:30 or 7:00 am, which doesn’t give me a lot of sunlight to work with.

My training is definitely lacking specificity this season.  It’s really hard to mimic the efforts required for mountain biking on a spin bike in the basement.  The XC races require a lot of short, punchy bursts of power, so that is where I am going to focus a lot of my training.  There will be a lot of intervals between 10 and 90 seconds in length because that’s usually how long you are pushing hard up a hill (at least in my part of Ohio) before coasting down the other side.

In a nutshell, I focused on endurance until the end of May and now I’m going to start adding more intensity to my workouts in the second half of the race season to try and increase my speed.

What are your workouts like these days?  Do you call them workouts or do you “just ride”?  Is there a plan or do you just wing it?  I suspect most people just wing it and ride when they can.

That’s all for now.  Don’t forget to subscribe to Quickdirt.  Make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Also, I’ve been thinking about buying a Nashbar Singlespeed 29er mountain bike.  It would be fun to go singlespeeding from time to time, but the main purpose of it would be to ride with my kids on the bike path.  Check it out at this link – Nashbar Single-Speed 29er – and let me know what you think?  Is it a good deal?  Do you think it’s a good bike?  Why don’t you buy one and write a review for me! 😉

9 thoughts on “The Second Half of Mountain Bike Season

  1. James I usually ride three to four times a week.My training is just my riding with a busy work schedule and also I’m a husband and a father of two boys 13 and 8 . I usually ride about 1.5 hrs per ride during the week (road or MTB) depending on trail conditions.I also have a set of rollers that I used yesterday as it was raining.My long ride is on the weekend and as an example last Saturday I rode the MTB on the Towpath up to the new Bedford Singletrack then up to Canal Visitor Center with some more singletrack and then back down the Towpath. That ride was 53 miles and took me 3.5 hrs to do. Tomorrow I am hitting the road to do my longest road ride so far 80 miles.

      • No where special just a road ride that starts about 20 min away that I drive to. I am just training for some of the upcoming XC races.My next race is probably the Reagan Park (2 miles from my house)
        Time Trail that 331 racing is hosting in July and my next OMBC race will probably be either Westbranch (close to home) or Lake Hope.I just love to ride James! Dirt is my first choice I’m a former BMX er from the 80’s. I am going to be on vacation the week of July 4th and I hope to hit Alum Creek,Scioto trails. I have not been to either one and maybe we could ride together sometime? I plan on taking my 13 year old who MTB’s as well. We both ride Giant Anthems me a 29 er his is a 26er.

  2. Unfortunately I will be out of town for the 4th. Otherwise it would be a ton of fun to show you around Alum Creek. Chestnut Ridge and Dillon are closer to Columbus than Scioto Trails if you are looking for places to ride that are in the area. I enjoy riding at both places.

    • The road ride went very well James.We had 7 guys total.We rode 73 miles not a lot of climbing 1,022 ft.We knocked it out in 3hrs 52 min for an 18.6 avg. This was my longest (mileage)ride on a bike. The Mohican 100k which I did in May was my second longest miles in a day.That’s to bad you will be out of town. I might get down in your area this weekend Sunday 6/29.Would that work? You name the trail.

      • Hey George,

        Sorry I didn’t get back to you. I’ve been a little behind on my emails and website stuff. Did you end up riding in the Columbus area today. The trails were pretty wet yesterday, so I went and rode around the city for 76 miles. It was a fun little adventure.

        • James, we were heading down Saturday afternoon and got 20 miles from Alum Creek exit and we turned around because of the rain. We headed over to Mohican and we rode 6 miles before it started to rain a little bit and it was getting late. It was my sons first time there and I was impressed. We rode Sunday here at home riding Strongsville Royalview trail 9 miles then we went to Canal Visitor Center trail 2 miles then we went to Bedford trail almost 12 miles at that point my 13 year old had enough. I dropped him off at home and then I rode Reagan trail 7 miles before the rain came. All that was singletrack and anytime you would like to come up to my neck of the woods let me know I would be happy to show you around. Tell me more about your ride yesterday I would love to hear more about it.

    • That’s a great question, but I’m not sure I have a great answer. I usually try to do three “intense” rides per week and the TSS of each ride is usually between 120 and 140, but can vary from 100 to 200. I also run two or three times a week, so that throws the math off on the total training stress. What about you? How do you approach it?

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