Who would have thunk?

I was always amazed by Team Racer, David Sanderson’s level of fitness. When he rides his bike, its like his legs have small engines in them. I’ve never seen the guy tired or worn out from a ride or race and guess what. He actually trains for racing! Last year, I didn’t bother training at all for my Downhill Racing. I did train, but that was more of me hitting the trails. I never bothered with conditioning. To say the least, I was always spent after a race run. My legs and lungs were on fire and it was pretty darn discouraging at times.

So this year I got out of the 200 club (clyde) category and entered the Beg 27-43. This category is packed with talented riders and many of them are simply fast. Shoot, some may say that this cat has a bunch of sandbaggers. Anyhow, I wanted to make sure that I could do well enough and race within the top 10 riders. I sought out the help of my friend Dale Weber of TrainWithDale.com, he’s a personal trainer to athletes. Check this out, part of his training with some of his clients is to go mountain biking with them for hours and hours…dang that’s a sweet job!

Dale laid out a basic meal plan for me and gave me some direction on what to do with my cardio. Here’s what he said,

“…my clients that have seen the best results, I have them do one hour of cardio per week for every decade they have been alive. So, a 40 yr old would do 4 hrs of cardio per week. Us mountain bikers can do that in one weekend ride, so I don’t count that. I do 4 hrs a week of cardio not counting my mountain biking. This may not work with a full time job and family, but start some cross training like trail running or stairs. Your biking strength will sky rocket.”

I took his advice and spent the last 2 weeks on my spin bike at home. I do intervals that would get my blood pumping and legs burning. I did this for 3 hours a week and when the time came for me to get on my mountain bike, my riding experience was incredible! Let me give you some history before I go on, I’m usually the last guy of our group on Thursday nights. Plus I will often take a short cut because its too hard for me to ride (basically out of shape). Well after doing 3 hours a week of cardio for 2 weeks, I rode last Thursday with my team, and guess what. I FELT AWESOME! My legs weren’t burning, my lungs felt great and I was able to ride faster.

With that in mind, I was hoping that all this cardio could translate over to DH racing. Sure enough it did. On my race run, my legs had more energy, my lungs didn’t explode and on the dreaded “WALL” of Southridge, I was able pass up the racer that went 30 seconds ahead of me. I pedaled longer and faster than I was able to in previous races.

After the race, David Sanderson and I were talking and I told him about my 3 hours a week. He joked with me and said, “who would have thought that training could help with your riding!” Haha, well its true. I ended up doing something I didn’t think I could do that day, I took 2nd place.

I was only 5 seconds behind 1st and 3rd place was 7 seconds behind me.

Knowing what I do about this thing called cardio, I’m going to try and up my training time from 3 hours to 4 hours per week. I figure the only thing that will do is improve my conditioning and help me become a better rider. Perhaps someday I can keep up with Priscilla, David, Kim and Tony…some day…

About the author

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of MtnBikeRiders.com and BikeCommuters.com. Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).