Downieville and Enduro Training

Hi all,

So I finally picked up a proper “downcountry” bike and I want to dip my toes into XC. Once upon a time, I got my start in mountain racing in the NORBA XC series as a kid, but gave up after I got serious about soccer. I’ve been racing enduro primarily in the last 4 years (now 34 years old) with a healthy dose of downhill at the start of those years (aka my fitness sucks). My primary “A” race will be Downieville all mountain (assuming I can get a registration). This will promptly be followed by multiple day enduros for the 6 weeks following Downieville (a race every other week).

My training has been pretty inconsistent the last few years but I still manage to do 3-8 races a year. I’ve followed Sweet Spot base plans from other coaches in the off-seasons but never done much proper build or specialty training until last year where I followed SSB I/II and Short Power Build (low volume due to only being allowed on the trainer 3x/wk due to a broken back). My specialty phase also coincided with me being cleared to ride on dirt and I lost focus and “just rode and raced” with an occasional trainer session scattered in, and surprise surprise it wasn’t my best race season.

With all that being said, does anyone have a suggestion on what build and specialty plan to follow leading up to Downieville? Normally I’d say general build > marathon or olympic XC but considering I’ll be racing 4 more enduros after that I’m not sure if there’s a better choice.

I’ve raced the Downieville All Mountain a couple of times, and there are certainly multiple valid approaches.

For me personally, I would do:

  • Sustained Power Build
  • Marathon XC

My reasoning behind this is that I am a better descender than a lot of the racers, so having a fast and well paced effort at the start means that I don’t have to pass so many racers on the downhill. Since you are an Enduro racer, I suspect that this would be the case for you as well.

A focus on sustained efforts will prepare you the best for this ~ 1 hour sustained effort right off the line.

But this progression is not neccessarily the best way to prepare for your enduro events, but it’s important to remember that you can’t specialize in everything. You need to pick your “A” race and prepare for that above all else. Then, see how your “B” races fit in.

It sounds to me that Downieville is your “A” race, but if the Enduro races are to be your focus, something like:

  • Short Power Build
  • Gravity

…would be a good choice because it helps you to sprint out of corners and stay on the gas for the entirety of the stage.

Just some food for thought, good luck with your preparation, and be sure to be waiting by the computer when entries go on sale :wink: .

@Bryce I really appreciate the feedback. Considering I’ve never finished a specialty plan prior to my enduro seasons I think I’ll still be in good shape for the final races in the series but Downieville will definitely be my “A” race so I think focusing on a Sustained Power Build > Marathon XC is definitely the best option.

I’m sure I will be in a similar boat in that I can rely on my skills to get me through the downhill and focus on my sustained power. I had debated a General Build > Olympic XC or STXC but I think that’s trying to serve too many masters and I’ll be better served training hard for Downieville and going out and and “racing for fun” at the remaining enduros.

Now that I have training settled, onto equipment choices…

Totally agree. It’s always better to pick a goal and go for it than to try to divide your efforts itoo many ways :ok_hand:

As someone with above average descent skills, what has been your tire choice? With me not being as strong of a climber I know I should have a setup with lower rotating weight and rolling resistance but have heard how notorious the downhill is for flats. I was thinking Ardent/Ardent Race (F/R) or Maybe Ardent/Ikon in 2.35. After riding a DH casing Assegai and Dissector combo though I think anything will feel fast at this point.

Downieville is NOTORIOUS for slicing your tires, so I almost always opt to play it safe, especially if I’m used to tires with proper casings. It also tends to be extremely loose, and since the all mountain event requires you to do well in both the XC and the DH, I’ll usually run:

  • DHR II 2.4 front (DHF works okay too, I just think the DHR is a better tire in loose/dry conditions)
  • Minion SS Rear is a good choice, though I might choose the EXO Dissector rear as well

I’ve been tempted to skimp on the tires in the past, but I’ve always found that I go faster on a tire that I feel confident with and that keeps the air inside them. If I lose a few minutes on the way up, I’ll gain them back with the confidence I feel on the way down.

Not to mention, a flat could lose you 5 minutes easily, and will wreck your confidence in your equipment for the rest of the race.

Just my 2 cents. The winner of the pro race the last few years has been on Maxxis Ikon 2.35 EXO, but unfortunately I don’t have the skills of Geoff Kabush :wink: .

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I’m definitely not Geoff Kabush. I actually ran the exo Dissector up front with a Minion SS out back for a local race in Golden, CO that’s equal parts timed descents and climbs and really liked it. The Dissector seems a lot faster than the DHRII up front but I might have to try both out and maybe even a HRII in 2.3 as well, that one is great in the super deep loose stuff but not sure it’s worth the rolling resistance.