Finished MTB season and about to start TR for Fall/Winter

We had a long summer in the pacific northwest but summer conditions have sadly just ended and I’m about to start my indoor trainer season.

I’ve enjoyed riding mtb 5-6days/week for many months (zero indoor rides), but the cool, damp months ahead will see less riding outdoors and a lot more indoor trainer. Normally at this time of year I pick a TR plan and begin Base–>Build–>Specialty. Given I already have a decent mtb base, kinda thinking I could use TrainNow for 6-8 weeks, then in January pick a TR plan and start a Base Phase or go directly into a Build Phase. If I start a Base Phase right now it almost seems like taking a step backwards, or unnecessary.

I’ve been using TR for years (3-4X/week Nov-April), ride outdoors mostly for fun/fitness with no particular events other than a couple enduros/xc events, winter outdoor mtb rides could be limited to 1-2 days/week depending on weather. I take fitness somewhat seriously but not as seriously as when I was a roadie a few years ago.

I guess my situation applies to a lot of us regardless of whether we ride road or mtb. Would love to hear what others in this situation do?

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Same as me. A lot of MTB rides for me since May.

I live in Colorado, so most of my MTB rides include long climbs. It’s hard to do much endurance zone rides in terrain like this. It’s sweet spot up the long climbs, vo2max on the steep stuff, then a different kind physical challenge on the long descents.

My winter training will skew towards endurance, as my MTB riding lacks much of this. This will include zone 2 trainer workouts during the week, as well as 3-4 hour rides on the weekend in the snow on my fatbike. With occasional sweet spot and vo2 max workouts thrown in - about one each every 7 days or so.

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I’m doing something similar.
I decided to focus heavily on base this year. Specifically, traditional endurance base.
So, my approach is:

  • Polarized low volume plan, ride indoors Tuesday (long endurance) and Thursday (shorter endurance).
    -Saturdays I often ride MTB, and do interval equivalents outside. Basically I use longer climbs to do the power interval, then singletrack (often XC descents) for leg recovery (the “descending” segments are great for skills work).

I’m experimenting with the types of endurance workouts I do - many of the TR “endurance” workouts are at pretty high power levels (some go up to 79% of TRFTP) too high for me to maintain endurance heart rate and breathing. So I’ve modified a few to stay more in the 65%-70% range…

It’s working for me so far, I’m that I’m getting in more volume (6-8 hours per week) and more endurance volume than I ever have before. It’s too early to see any impact on my power or TTE. But I’m optimistic…

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Sounds like you’ve got a good plan and some long 3-4hr rides on the fatbike!

Kudos on your commitment to a polarized plan! For me the long indoor endurance rides are tough to commit to, but I appreciate the benefits of them. I try to keep my indoor workouts in the 60-90minute range, so there’s only so much endurance fitness I can gain. Most of my outdoor mtb rides are in the 1.5-2.5hr range, so not especially long, and maybe I can get away without the longer indoor endurance rides. If I was a roadie I’d be more inclined/motivated to do longer endurance rides on the trainer I think.


Yeah you’re probably fine with 90 minutes trainer rides. For MTB, I’ve noticed that riding outside, I usually only pedal for about 50% of ride time.

So if your outdoor rides are up to 2 hours, then 90 minutes will still help you pretty significantly!

I’m racing XC marathon, so I’m trying to be ready for 4 hours, plus a lap. Long trainer rides should help with that…

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For MTB… there are always some good short punchy climbs to push up in the middle of a long ride… some long grinders too. I have found some of the endurance with bursts (i.e. Bays) at least mimic that a bit and break up an endurance ride on the trainer.

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This is the only place where Zwift shines. I only have the sub from mid-Oct mid-March. Otherwise there’s plenty of time to do those long rides outside AND get all the other stuff done that life requires.

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