Pain Tolerance, Body Fat, Descending and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 211

The psychological and physical benefits of openers, what role pain tolerance plays in performance, how to increase confidence and speed in descents, plus your live questions will all be covered in Episode 211 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast.

Youtube Live Video:

Topics covered in this episode:

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I must have missed it, but what was the best mountain bike for a beginner? I heard “Yeti SB150” and “Pivot Mach 4 SL”. I would think that these are too expensive for a beginner.

Does the TR team have suggestions for a hard-tail? Perhaps one which can take 29" wheels?

Just following up on a question at the end of the podcast during the live portion:

I live near sea level, and last year I did a granfondo at elevation, highest point is about 6500ft and stayed in an apartment near the summit the day before but had stayed at my parents’ home and did some rides up another mountain at 5000ft. Anyhow, did I hear correctly that it’s better to not spend any time at elevation prior to an event? I didn’t really expect to be adapted in the week or so that I had spent prior to the event, but it stunk to be climbing at 200w and be at threshold HR (275 at the time). I’d love to go back and conquer the event, but I’d have to plan it differently.

Hey: I am the ops guy for a local bike shop here in Bend, Oregon. We get asked this question a lot. I usually recommend 1). Set your budget. 2). Think about the type of riding you will be doing. 3). Test ride at least 5 bikes.

XC bikes are a good start. Specialized Epic Evo, the Pivot Mach 429 and Giant Trance are good bikes. Though the Evo and Trance will be more budget friendly. And go 29er.

Don’t overspend. Buy something for the next 12 to 24 months and after that time and riding with friends you will have a better idea of what you will know you want. Then sell that bike and get the bike of your dreams.

Nothing worse than buying an expensive bike and then find out it isn’t the type you really want.


No bike is too expensive if you want it bad enough!

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Thanks for those suggestions, they’re more expensive than what I’d consider for my first MTB. What hardtail would you recommend? I think it will be cheaper to maintain in the long run.

IMO something like this would fit the bill:


  1. Good modern geometry
  2. Dropper post
  3. Good tires
  4. Solid fork
  5. Decent brakes (plus there is a nice touch where they added a 4-piston caliper to the front)

What about the Fuse Comp 29? Would that be too much of a step down?

Anyone know the skinny on the sparkling grape juice / Champaign? The YT video starts just prior to Nate talking about descending.

Chad’s getting married!


Thanks for the info!

someone rescue Chad!!

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I’m still going to crush hard on him when he goes into Deep Dives…Deep Dives from Chad are sexy!!!

You’ll get the same frame but miss out on the 4 piston caliper on the brakes and you won’t be able to upgrade the damper on the fork (the Expert has the 35mm chassis that is comparable with the higher end Charger damper, but the Recon is a lower end fork).

IMO it’s worth the extra amount of money for the Expert if you can spare it (or save for a few extra months)

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I’ve heard it’s best to either spend enough time at altitude to adapt, or else spend no time at altitude until the day of the event. If you fall into the middle ground and spend a few days at altitude running up to the event then you’re basically just in a bit of a mess as your body has started going through the adaptation but things get worse before you start to get any benefits.

That certainly chimes with my experience of staying at altitude - first few days are tough, easily out of breath, high HR, etc, then you start to adapt and things improve. I wouldn’t want to race in those early days!

Slow to get to this…

Two items discussed raised a new question in my head. Chad said (a) a lot of calories go to thermoregulation and (b) there was a question about lower body fat helping increase FTP. Is there a chance that lower body fat makes thermoregulation easier? I’m thinking it doesn’t matter that much, but I am curious.

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Way to go @Jonathan! If I read the results for the Tahoe Trail 100 correctly, his time of 4:44:33 just squeaks into the Silver corral for Leadville (with 27 seconds to spare).


finally listened… congratulations @chad :beers: and thank you - the deep dives are my favorite episodes :+1:


On pain tolerance, I read a while back that the Norwegian cross country skier who, at the time, had the highest ever recorded VO2max of I think 96 ml/kg/min, attributed his success to being able to endure suffering longer than his competitors.

The 96 VO2 max may have helped!