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Gruntled
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have my first race in July. A 25K. I'm hoping for a little advice on how to train and any race day tips. Some quick background:

Me: busy 47yo father of 2. Only been riding for 4 years. Get out 1-3 times a week for around 100 miles/mo. I don't have much time, so 90% of my rides are out my door on the same terrain

My typical ride:


The race:


Training questions:
It's that long-ish climb that worries me. I don't have access to a similar climb to train. What can I do to prepare? Would road work suffice if I could find a 2 mile climb close to home?

Also, should I continue to try to go faster on similar distances as race, or try to go longer than race?

I've got 4 weeks left...

Race day questions:
Overall, what's a good way to attack that course? Full out the whole way? Pace for the climb to have enough left to attack the downhill to the finish? Other?

Also, should I wear a pack for lots of water, or lighten up and just go w/ a 20oz bottle in the cage?

Lastly: what kind of warm up do people like to do for a short race like this?
 

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Don't go too hard. Go out to have fun, compete a bit, and learn a bunch about what goes on in this bike racing stuff.

It's a short race. Drink a fair bit in the two-ish hours before hand, pee shortly before the gun, and carry a big bottle.

A big YES that climbing on a road bike would help on the race day climb. Most would say road training is essential for truly focussed training. Everybody would agree that some climbing training is better than none, even if it's on a unicycle.

Have fun out there!
 

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4 weeks ? go do hill repeats now for 2 weeks. that is all you do, boring hill repeats. kill your mind with it, boring. blast those legs. next two weeks just ride normally. that's about all you can do in such a short time but might wake up your legs to hill ability
 

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chasing simplicity
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Since you don’t have similar climbs, do you have any climbs? If so Jill repeats would help. If not, riding into the wind (if you have any) in a huge gear on the road would help.
 

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Wanna ride bikes?
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It's not a very long race but you likely don't have much of a base built up with your limited ride time. Adding intensity and volume for the next 2 weeks will help.

You don't need a road bike or big hills to train hard, you just need to be able to push yourself.

On race day just pace yourself on the climb.

Since you don't have similar climbs, do you have any climbs? If so Jill repeats would help. If not, riding into the wind (if you have any) in a huge gear on the road would help.
Intensity level and duration build fitness, with or without wind.
 

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Gruntled
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all!

Sounds like hill repeats are my best option. (I just looked up what those are. Turns out they're what I figured they'd be.) ;)

I have one similar dirt climb, but it's ~:20 drive from home - which makes that a once a week-er at best. Maybe I burn some points with the family and try for 2x week.

There are some road climbs out my driveway, but they're gradual compared to that race's climb. There is about a .5 mile steep climb. Would that be long enough?

How long would be an ideal climb to repeat and how many times/week should I hit that for the next couple weeks?
 

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The big climb in your race is only 1/2 mile long with 300 feet elevation gain. That's about 11% which, with MTB gearing is not that steep.
After the big climb, there are a couple short climbs that you will want to be able to attack. To do that, you want to be able to spin up the big climb and not burn up your legs.
My advice would be to get on your road bike, find a 5 minute climb that you can maintain 80-90rpm cadence and do two solid repeats followed by a couple all-out 1min. efforts a couple times a week. Don't worry about training duration so much as training your cadence and your ability to recover from hard effort while still maintaining a good pace.

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Gruntled
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The big climb in your race is only 1/2 mile long with 300 feet elevation gain. That's about 11% which, with MTB gearing is not that steep.
After the big climb, there are a couple short climbs that you will want to be able to attack. To do that, you want to be able to spin up the big climb and not burn up your legs.
My advice would be to get on your road bike, find a 5 minute climb that you can maintain 80-90rpm cadence and do two solid repeats followed by a couple all-out 1min. efforts a couple times a week. Don't worry about training duration so much as training your cadence and your ability to recover from hard effort while still maintaining a good pace.

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Cool. Thanks.

FWIW, it's more like 1 or 1.5 miles depending on where one marks the start of the climb and about 380' vert; which makes it less steep:

Text Colorfulness Photograph White Line


Does that change your suggestion (5 mins up @ cadence x2 + all out min) 2x/week?
 

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Does that change your suggestion (5 mins up @ cadence x2 + all out min) 2x/week?
Maybe increase the duration of your longer sustained effort to 10 minutes. It really depends on how fast you can go at that grade Andrew at a sustained effort. The key though I'd to keep your cadence high, less stress on your muscles will incorporate more of your cardiovascular system and reduce muscle fatigue.
Save your legs for the short climbs after and you will pass riders at the end. That's always a good way to end a race!

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Gruntled
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You guys rock.

Here's my 4 week plan, shout if I missed something / this looks dumb:

Week -4: Hill repeats 2x/ week. Increase dirt mileage as much as possible. Dirt Dawn Patrol!
Week -3: Hill repeats 2x/ week. Increase dirt mileage as much as possible
Week -2: Pound dirt miles like its my job
Week -1: Ride my normal ~20-25 mile of dirt week.

Race: Pace myself from start of race, through the "long climb", then go hard through the finish.

Lastly, what's a good recovery time period pre-race? I'm thinking a light ride (10 miles?) 2 or 3 days before, then rest till race day. Spin a couple miles the morning before start.
 

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Don't over train. 2x weekly hill repeats along with other workouts is a lot for a week, in my opinion. Especially since this will tire you out with minimal amount of taper time.

At this point, just train smart. don't try to cram a training plan into the last few weeks of what is meant to be the end of a training schedule. Pounding dirt miles AND hill repeats won't allow you to do either of them properly, too tired out for the hills, or too many repeats and too tired for a 'hard ride'.

When deciding how to handle your repeat effort: Make sure you choose a plan that is consistent. Choose your distance, or time interval. Choose the number of intervals you intend to do. The last interval should be the same time as your first.

For example, if you choose to do 6 intervals of 1/4 mile in "X" time, your 6th interval should take the same amount of time as the first. If you can't sustain that time properly, that means you over exerted for the previous interval sessions.

You can choose to ride for time- one minute up the hill then come back down. On your 6th one, you should go as far as you did in one minute on your first interval.

You don't need much of a hill. You can do it on an overpass to a highway or road crossing if you have a sidewalk to do this with. Be creative and look for the hill that will give you time, or distance you wish to achieve.

At the start of your race you will be full of nervous energy. Don't let that consume you.
A running coach taught me this about the start:
If you feel like you went out too hard, you probably did.
If you feel like your effort is perfect, you probably went out too hard.
If you feel slow, you probably started properly.

You will always feel best if you can finish strong, even reel in people or pass them instead of coming to finish line just barely holding it together and slipping backwards in position or effort.
Fifteen miles will be a good race length. It will allow you to push just a little and enjoy the race adrenaline. But not tank (if you ride a smart race). Do not over ride some of the steeper or technical areas. The more inconsistent your pedaling/effort is the quicker you'll tire out. Riding an aggressive technical section with on/off power will cost you big compared to being slower and smoother.

I'm sure you'll be fine. You're going into it as prepared as you can be. What I always tell myself regarding a level of performance I expect of myself is that I can only expect results based on my training. If I haven't adequately trained I don't expect it to be my best race. Go get 'em!
 

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My advice is a little different and stems from lots of experiences of first time racers I know who now race a lot.

1. XC races stat extremely hard. You have to understand that they will not stay at that pace. It’s a game of attrition. If you let them go, you will not catch anyone front half pack.

2. Know that You have no idea how to pace. You can’t possibly. Whatever you choose will be wrong and that’s OK. This is why my advice is to GO FOR IT. You will have no regrets if you blow up and have to slow down... finishing the race and telling your new friends and Family “I could have/should have gone harder” Sucks!

You observe this a lot as people may get 7th or worse in their first race and move to podium in subsequent races as they just learn to go deeper in the pain cave.

3. Always be chasing. There is always someone just ahead that you can’t see. It only takes about 7 seconds to close those gaps but you would never know it. When people are alone they fall into “their pace” which is usually a not as fast as they should go. You can use the reverse of this to shake a pesky competitor.

Hill repeats are not the best workouts to do all the time. Do 1 per week. Work on pushing up and over the top. The top is not the finish, the finish is when it starts to go downhill. So many people lose positions in a race over not pushing over the top hard.

Your flat practice loop doesn’t make you a bad climber. Power is power. If you are heavy... that’s the only thing that will really hurt you on the steeps.

If your normal practice route you average 10 mph all out. I would work on your hard starts. Sprinting in, and riding at a 12-13 mph average for the first 10 minutes and then taper back to sustainable speed. Then finish the loop all out. Do this once per week.

If you clip in, practice clipping in and going hard off the line. You should be in a hard gear. If it’s flat, I start in 14t. The resistance will help you clip in faster.

And lastly talk to everyone after the race. Ask them how their race went. Don’t be worried about how much faster anyone is or how expensive their bike and Kit is. We are all in this for the same reasons and it’s an awesome community. You will make life long friends and networks.











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The one thing I agree with from the post above is overtopping a hill. That's big in runners training too, learn how to transition from climb speed to getting your maintained speed back.

Nearly everything else I strongly disagree with. That's what makes the internet a great place. Several extreme conditions to allow people to pick and choose what option work best for them.
 

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I feel like some of the advice in this thread is great for an endurance race. Some of it is great for an XC race. (this is an XC race the OP is talking about) Some of the advice is great for someone who is fit and is able to consistently put in 12hrs+/wk. I can't say I disagree with any of it really, except once it's put into the context of a 47yr old dad of 2 who doesn't get much ride time in who is doing an XC race... just ride. and learn. and hopefully catch the bug and come back and do it again.
 

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The one thing I agree with from the post above is overtopping a hill. That's big in runners training too, learn how to transition from climb speed to getting your maintained speed back.

Nearly everything else I strongly disagree with. That's what makes the internet a great place. Several extreme conditions to allow people to pick and choose what option work best for them.
Yeah, I chose not to rip the 10 posts before me which i perceive as bad advice.

How many days are we doing hill repeats? 2? 3per week? How is this going to help him vs just learning to ride the MTB really hard and fast?

Did anyone read that he is riding 100 miles per month with an average of 10 rides? How does that suddenly turn into a training plan of hill repeats and other stuff...

"Pace yourself" until the hill? How does one pace themselves in their first race? You can't. You have no clue what is going on when you line up.

All you need to do in training is ride REALLY hard. The science backs this. There is no need for polarization with a volume this low. I would take the loop I currently do and try to set the world on fire with my effort. You have to learn where you implode before you can ever find your "pace".

"Pacing the hill" also bad, wrong, incorrect. Attack the hill. The hill is your race. But I hate telling the OP that because he might hold back too much in anticipation of the hill.

Pacing takes Tens of races to figure out. Pacing the race slowly and then getting blown off the trail by racers from age groups behind you is not enjoyable.

You also see these issues time and time again in a fast Cat 3s first race or two.

Unless you are hiding a big life of aerobic fitness from running or some other sports, Expectations for this race should be to have fun and learn. I would highly recommend you find a racer or two in the mid pack to mix it up with and "Race". If not, this will turn into a solo ride and you won't have many takeaways. Set some goals, such as Stay on the bike and don't walk any climbs. It's going to hurt bad if you do it right. Then afterward you will looking for an opportunity in the calendar to do it again.

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I have no training advice for you, none whatsoever. But adhere to some etiquette: if you're on single-track and there is a sizeable gap between you and the next person, you are not closing that gap, and there are people on your wheel who want by...let them by. There's a difference between racing and blocking.

Have fun!
 

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Gruntled
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I love the internet. Thanks for all the input.

One thing I didn't put in my OP and I see being discussed is goals. When I started this, they were:

- Do the best I can / feel like I gave it my all
- Have fun
- Beat the couple buddies I'm ridding with

Now I'd add (or maybe just replace with):

- Take this as a learning experience / come what may


Training:
I did do a hill repeat sesh last week, but not sure I'll keep that up. I think I'll focus on charging hard on as many miles as possible for now. Just got a 21 mi 1,100' ride in yesterday at decent wattage for me - gonna try do do that again on Wednesday, then hoping to get to Kingdom Trails in VT mid week next week, which will be good for both mileage and vert.

That will leave me 2 weeks away from race. With my low "training" volume, will I even need to entertain a "recover" period before the race? Maybe just take a couple, tree days off?

Race:
Thanks for the etiquette tip. Will likely be in that situation, so good to know. What about passing - should I be so lucky? "On your left" and buzz by when I can? Ask for a pass?
 

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Race:
Thanks for the etiquette tip. Will likely be in that situation, so good to know. What about passing - should I be so lucky? "On your left" and buzz by when I can? Ask for a pass?
Start with asking to pass. If they are unresponsive, uses your best judgment on where you will "take it" and make sure you don't crash them or yourself.
 
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