Multi-year Stage/Distance MTB Racing Progression

I just finished my first real season of mountain bike racing (all XC), culminating in 5th place finish in a fairly technical 25 mile course. I have a series of events I’m interested in competing in over the next ~5 years, with Leadville being the White Whale at the end.

I’d love to get some perspective from others on how to build year-over-year. I’m historically not great at long distance (and fought some pretty intense cramps in the above-mentioned 25 miler), so I’d like to target 1-2 events per year to push me out of my comfort zone.

Events I’m interested in include:

I raced XCO/XCM/MTB 100s for the past 4 years and been with TR the past 3+ years. I’ve seen massive fitness and race result improvements. Regarding training alone, for me building year over year has been consistency and increasing volume. However, I’d say of equal importance was figuring out fueling, nutrition and recovery. Was there a specific question you had?

Have you thought about Shenandoah 100 miler (or the 100k)?

I’m doing something similar - the first year everything is either XC marathon (4 hours + 1 lap) or metric century. Some of them are more gravel races (Leadville qualifier Lake Placid), while Shenandoah is much more of a singletrack race.

I figure that it’s pretty simple to judge difficulty - longer is more difficult, higher altitude is more difficult, more singletrack is more difficult. I’m picking 1-2 events each year as A races, but signing up for more in-between them for training and working out nutrition, recovery, and gear tweaks…

I think volume has definitely been a limiting factor. I’m only averaging ~6 hours a week on the bike and my mountain bike rides are seldom longer than 15 miles at a time. I’m mostly interested in hearing from folks who have participated in some of those races regarding the difficulty and some training strategies to build up to them. I do actually feel like I have a pretty good handle on fueling.

To the point @wake brought up around judging difficult, I’ve heard some of those are deceptively hard. I think it was mentioned on the LT100 podcast that Silver Rush might actually be more difficult than the actual LT100. Something like the BC Bike Race isn’t that much volume each day, but is it reasonable to take on a 7-day stage race first? Or would it be better to do a shorter duration/longer distance-per-day event like Pike Peak Apex.

Yeah, that was why I put amount of singletrack in the list. I suspect that’s one of the differences between silver Rush and LT100.

Re: stage races, I can only speak for myself. I know that I don’t recover super well from all out efforts, so I’m waiting until after I’ve done well at a few 100-milers.

I wonder if it’s worth simulating a five-day stage race with five consecutive days of hard, multi hour rides. That way, you could get a gauge of how your body would respond to the multi-day events…

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I went from single day MTB races to a 7 day stage race a few years ago.

Honestly I wasn’t “properly” racing it but just finishing it. I was very strict with my pace the first 3 days until I felt comfortable and then rode a bit more freely (faster) in the last 4 days.

It was the best cycling experience of my life, everyone should do a stage race at some point if they have the oppotunity.

In conclusion, don’t wait, just do it if you want to. :+1:


If you’re going to be up in the mountains, why not Breck Epic?!