XC training regimes?

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  • XC training regimes?
  • Premier Icon adsh

    What a minefield……

    I don’t know my FTP from my threshold from my arse. I want to improve my XC race performance for 6 hour events.

    Each week I try to do a VO2 max intervals on the turbo (1hour), a 2-4 hour intense ride and a 6-7hour long distance ride at lower intensity.

    If I have a weakness it’s seated power – what I have is gone after 2 hours. When racing I’m pretty consistant laptime wise but it’s an exercise in energy management not pace! I was midfield in the Erlestoke 6hour just gone.

    I can make a bit more time for the turbo if required though I find it hard to get through the pain to HR zones I regularly access on the bike.

    Anyways advice welcome!

    just those three sessions ?

    Premier Icon adsh

    Pretty much – work, 3 kids etc. Could cut the long ride a bit for more interval sessions.

    You can get a long way with three good sessions a week, exactly as you state, long, threshold, and interval.

    However that works well for XC events, but with 6 hour events I’d say time in the saddle it going to be limiting factor, not absolute power, or VO2 max.

    Can you not add a session of two commuting to work? Keep what you’ve got and try to add to it with more cycling.


    Training for a 6hr enduro involves lots of 7-8hr rides. At least it does for me. I also do a session of intervals and weights per week along with 3-4 other rides of 3hrs. And by 3hrs and 7-8hrs I mean that long of continuous riding at a good pace, no stopping, no faffing, no hanging about at the end of every trail. Apart from stopping for cake in Peaslake – that’s allowed.



    I should say that training amount is Nov – March. This time of year it’s about maintaining form and recovering week to week between events for me and trying to squeeze in interval sessions where I’m not too ruined from the previous weekend’s race. This is hard when the events are 6hrs as it really takes it out of you.



    Maybe get hold of a copy of the “timed crunched cyclist” has some good ideas on training on a limited time scale.

    I have a long commute (25miles each way) that I do occasionally in the winter but I usually car share. Driving in, in January in the filthy rain one half dark morning, we passed a fit looking chap on a road bike, obviously commuting a long way in the drizzle. My work colleague, who was driving turned to me and said: “I bet you’re glad that’s not you today!“. I replied: “Hmmm…not really, those are the guys that will be beating me later in the year“.

    It sounds like you’re limited by time rather than by recovery so how about adding some running? It’s a lot of bang for the buck time-wise.

    Premier Icon jameso

    Reading this more for interest than to give advice as I’m relatively new to scheduled training and turbos, but “If I have a weakness it’s seated power – what I have is gone after 2 hours.” sounds like a fueling issue as much as anything?
    If not, fwiw I’ve seen gains by training at LTHR/threshold (max sustainable for 25-30 mins with a good warm up/down, a quite unpleasant session) or doing 5 mins at threshold or above, with 5 mins in low-mid Z4 to ‘recover’, 5-6 repeats where the 5-6th is hard to maintain at all. Basically long intervals not sprints. Combined with loads of steady endurance rides and some SS blasts, it’s made a real difference to my ability to go harder when I need to and not feel like I’m digging too deep. But my sprint/2hr XC race pace is rubbish, I’m working on long steady ride performance and recovery, diesel power kind of riding, so it may not be what you’re after. 6hr races may be on the border between XC race and endurance pace, prob more XC pace at the front end, I’m not sure.

    Premier Icon adsh

    That’s helpfull. I’ve improved the fuelling and that has helped but it’s still something I feel.

    I think at 49 I’m after pacing not flat out so the threshold training sounds usefull. My turbo sessions are genaerally 4 mins flat out with 2 mins recovery x5.

    I am noticing the benefits of more intense training though injury is always waiting.


    This is relevant to my interests.

    I’m usually a committed runner and a part-time mountain biker but after a running injury I am for the moment only able to mountain bike so have been wondering how best to use just the bike to improve my fitness.

    Usually I just end up ‘going for a ride’ on the bike but now I really need to try and use my time in a smarter way in the same way I would when running.

    If we’re going back to basics would something like a weekly schedule of one long ride, an interval session and *something else* be a good start? What would the *something else* be?

    I bought a book called Mountain Bike Fitness Training by John Metcalfe which I haven’t started yet but if I’m honest it seems a bit too advanced for me so not sure what I will be able to take from it.

    It’s surprising how little it seems is out there when it comes to mtb specific training 😕


    6 hr races are the domain of XCO racers who want to do something else and can sustain are large amount of what they output for a XC race for a longer period, these races are won in the first few laps and riders just hold onto the end,

    7-8 hr rides are overkill in my opinion, you need to be doing fast 3-4 hr rides plus the interval stuff and the rare 6hr (maybe just races), but you also need to blast out the first few laps,

    consider switching to 12 hr, less competition and your probably better suited if you can push out consistent lap time

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    trainerroad.com – try this combined with your turbo sessions for some guided/measured efforts


    Two 5+ hour rides a week minimum if your racing for 6 hours. Your legs have to get used to the muscle memory and slow fatigue. Speed work on the turbo is more or less a waste of time.

    I managed 13th in the recent Gorrick 100 after doing about 3 rides a week with no ride more than 4 hrs, most 1-2hrs.
    Enjoyed it too.


    i would agree with the recommendation for Trainer Road. Combine that with some of the Sufferfest videos and the focus on the turbo trainer is much better. I have been very impressed with Blender for helping improve speed on long rides. My normal riding is something like a fast 3-4 hr ride on a Tuesday night, 2hrs on the turbo Thursday night, 4-5 hr ride early Saturday morning, and a easy 1-2 hours on Sunday. On the back of that I can do okay in long events, relatively rubbish in normal XC races. With 2 kids, a busy job and a wife who races too I struggle to find many more hours to get out on the bike.

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