MTB Stage Race - Can I make it (alive)? Fitness related ;)

Hi @ll,

I would like to participate in a MTB Stage Race but not sure if my fitness will allow to make it out alive. I really, really would like not to die during the race but have some kind of fun (even knowing I will suffer a lot) and I am not aiming for podium (or last place …).

Some background on me:

  • 39y
  • 2018 Season and 2019 Season training via TR (before that no structured training just biking). 2018 was somewhat consistent (lets say 80%) as my son was born, 2019 looks much better so far
  • 2018 plan: Sweet Spot Base, Sustained Power, MTB Marathon (all Mid vol)
  • 2019 plan so far: Sweet Spot Base (3 weeks to go), Mid vol
  • 2018 FTP (max) 279 - started from 212 beginning of season
  • 2019 FTP so far: 268 - might improve until Race days in summer (but you never know, life happens …)
  • W/kg: about 4, 4,29 in 2018, currently 4,12, lost 13kg / 28pd in 2018 (now weighing 65kg / 143pd for half a year, seems quite stable)
  • !No racing experience! Did a 3h-MTB-Race in 2017 - was fun :slight_smile:

Some background on the race - there are basically two options, both with looooong sustained climbs (Swiss and Austrian Alps) and not to technical as far as I know.

  1. End of June
    3 days
    Total of 165km/102miles with 5360m/17.585feet of elevation
    Day 1: Timetrial, 16km/10m with 881m/2890f
    Day2: 86km/53m with 2446m/8024f
    Day3: 63km/39m with 2033m/6669f

  2. End of July
    2 days
    Total of 160km/99miles with 5683m/18.645feet of elevation
    Day1: 106km/65m with 3217m/10.554f
    Day2: 55km/43m with 2466m/8090f

Any thoughts if my current fitness will fit one of these races? Which one to be preferred?

Or should I work on my fitness for another season and just start in 2020?

Or any other comments :)?


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There is always a wide range of fitness at those races and I’m sure your be fine at your current level.
There’s so much more to racing than ftp and many people get far too caught up in that. Remember, pacing and fuelling play a huge roll in stage races.
Just enter the event that takes your fancy the most.

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Thx and you are right that one should not rely on numbers (like FTP) only.
BUT having no experience in the field of MTB stage races those numbers are my only orientation.

You’ll be fine for either. Just pay attention to your pace early and manage your fueling, and Day 1 recovery.

The ability in all categories is vastly different, but I guess it kinda depends on your level to how you view other riders. As I don’t know your ability, I’m sure your always end up in a bunch of similar paced riders, so there should be plenty of opportunities for a good burn up.
The starts are often flat out in my experience and you soon end up grouped with other riders racing at a similar pace.

Race this year, so you can get an idea of what it’s all about and then it will give you experience of what to do for the next one.

Hi Chris,

If that was me, I’d look at the June event, purely based on the fact that the two long stages are shorter than the two stage race in July!

The time trial can just be taken as a bit of a laugh, considering you’re not in it to win it, and it will act in getting you primed for the next day. 16km MTB aint too bad, but at 881m climbing?? What are you doing? Riding up a cliff? :stuck_out_tongue: Thats around twice the average grade of the second day…

Any ways, I’d look to going into Sustained Power Build, and follow that up with the Century Plan (from the road section). I’d do mid volume, and if at all possible, lock in every third weekend to get outside in both the Power Build and Specialty sections to do two days back to back MTB’ing to get yourself used to the stress and hurt of two big days back to back off road. Start out with, say, 20-25km days, and end up somewhere near 55-60km - you DON’T need to do 86km to prove that you can do 86km…you’ll make it!

Look back in the annuls of the AACC podcast to where the three amigos try to ride the Singletrack 6 event in BC - start at the episode before the 1st stage wrap up - lots to be learned in there.

As for experience…there will people walking, there will be people riding. So what if you walk a bit? This is MTB and we don’t care :slight_smile: leave those frowns to the roadies, huh?

I’d look to pace between 15 and 18km/h if at all possible, so on stage 2, look for a 5hr-6hr finishtime, and the third stage a little slower due to fatigue, so 4-1/2-5hrs. If you can exceed 12km/h on your normal off-road rides now, I don’t think it would be too hard to up the pace by the end of June.

Find a smallish loop with 100-150m climbing you can do repeats on and gauge your speed improvements on that.

Eat carbs… (damn, is @Nate_Pearson around here too???)

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