What does it take to step up from racing for fun to getting right up there with the big names of marathon mountain bike racing?
1- The bike
Lose some weight. You’ll need a bike that doesn’t put much more than 10 kg on the scale, maybe a little bit more if you go for a duallie rather than a hardtail. Put your focus on the moving parts: wheels, tires and pedals. A set of race wheels will easily shave half a kilo off the total weight of the bike and get you up that hill in no time. At Subaru-MarathonMTB.com we are lucky enough to have Mt Zoom on board that provides us with light weight handlebars, bottle cages and many more goodies.
Look after your rig. Keeping your driveline clean and lubed will reduce friction and chain suck significantly. Getting your hubs and bottom bracket serviced regularly will make the ride much easier. And remember to stick with your local bike shop to get a service no wiggle or chain reaction can provide, especially when it comes to prepping your bike the day before that big race!
2- The rider
Lose some weight. Losing weight on your bike can be a very expensive affair, especially with many companies now using carbon and titanium in pretty much every light weight bike part. But only a little bit of discipline in your daily diet and losing the sugar in your coffee can make a huge difference. One of the ways to measure how good a cyclist you are, is by calculating your maximum power output per kilo of bodyweight – or ‘watts per kilo’. Same power plus less weight equals higher watts/kg so a faster you.
Look after yourself. A sports diet doesn’t necessarily mean eating less. It means eating well, take in the right mix of vitamins and minerals trough a healthy daily diet.
Get motivated. Read up on what those other guys do, get a Strava login and beat your mates on your local KOM’s. Get a morning ride in before work or join a bunch to get some fast km’s in your legs. Aim higher, enter in bigger races as you get better.
3- The coach
Get a coach. No matter how much you train, without the proper understanding of training planning and methods, you’ll never find out just how good you really are. By working together with a cycling coach that knows you, you’ll be able to peak your performance at your favourite race. And it’s not only about the personalised training schedules, it’s just as much about the feedback your coach can give you and the motivation to get out there and training.
4- The skills
Learn how to ride. Most XC Marathon races are a mix of roughly 50 km on dirt roads and 50 km on the single track. On the dirt roads, it’s your fitness level and the amount of endurance training you did that will make you go faster. On the single track, it’s all about your technical skills and there’s only one way to improve those and that’s by going riding. In general, if you train alone and wanna get your skills up, it’ll take you about two or three years. If you don’t want to wait that long or you find yourself struggling on that same obstacle over and over again, I suggest your take a mountain bike skills class. Have a search on the world wide web and you’re sure to find someone in your area that will show you how it’s done.