What plan for mtb stage race

Hey I am a cat 5/ beginner level Mtb’er. I am pretty new to trained road too. I’m seeing some good improvement though with mid volume polarized. I was looking at Moab rocks or Transylvania epic which are 4 and 5 stages respectively. A marathon Mtb plan makes some sense but not sure if it has blocks of consecutive training days to get you ready. Also I’m trying to figure out how to balance indoor workouts with making sure I’m getting time on the trails. Any tips would be appreciated.

Following this with interest. I’m doing the Alps Epic 5 day mtb stage race in June.

I love riding outside and have previously found nothing even comes close to how fit and resilient I get when doing epic rides every two-three weeks or so. I have some cracking off road routes that take 12-15hrs to complete (often with a bivy halfway). Winching yourself up the 100th climb of the day with a laden bike, forcing calories down your throat, knowing that you have to keep peddling if you want to get home, brings on a whole new level of mental and physical fitness.

However, being a working man, midweek I’m having to shoehorn training into life so would like to use TR to help me.
Finding it really hard to decide how best to approach it though. Gut feeling is 1 - 2 short vo2 max sessions/wk is the way to go. Fitness is fitness, and these sessions are great for improving fitness but don’t leave you drained as it’s really easy to fuel them.

I disagree here. Fitness is NOT fitness, but rather one must tailor their fitness to the demands of their event. For example, “fitness” for a flat century is much different than “fitness” for a crit. If your training doesn’t reflect that then you’ll likely under perform.

I recommend using Plan Builder, putting in your events and let it periodize a training plan for you. Then you can adjust the Build and/or the Specialty to the demands of your race if Plan Builder doesn’t reflect your terrain. Personally, I would recommend a General Build and XC Marathon Specialty. Then I would swap out the Saturday ride for a sporty trail ride. If you chose to ride the trails again on Sunday, I would make that more of an endurance zone 2 ride. As your event gets closer (Specialty phase) you can link together those weekend rides at more of a tempo pace that will likely mimic your event pace.

As an example of fitness is fitness I’ll use my recent running example:
I’ve trained and raced bikes for over a decade. This September I started doing the local 5k Parkrun on basically no previous running experience, just the odd run/walk very occasionally.
1st week 21min15, felt like Bambi. Leg muscles didn’t know which order to fire.
2nd week, 19.30
3rd week 18.36.
Had a few weeks off to concentrate on cycling then did an 18.15.
Once my neurones knew which order to fire, my legs worked great.
Cardio wise, fitness is fitness in my opinion.

That may be your opinion and n=1 experience, however exercise physiology and kinesiology would disagree. It’s bad advise for a beginner (OP) and a common training mistake.

I have listened to other advice that states question all training dogma. So I do.
Anyway this isn’t fair on the OP.
I’ve got a thread running concurrently called ‘two indoor workouts a week’. We can discuss things on that if you like?

Be sure to put a premium on outdoor rides and outdoor workouts the closer to the event you get. I find indoor work to be beneficial for cultivating a good base during that phase and then using the trainer to knock out the VO2 max days during build and specialty. I’m of the opinion that you can over do indoor work especially for mountain biking and that spending too much time inside will make you feel disconnected with actual riding when the time comes.

Indoor work should be a supplement to your outdoor work.

Definitely plan back to back tough days on the mtb too.

Fueling strategies might even be the absolute most important factor.

Thanks for the tips. I’m at the end of my polarized plan and did a three hour ride on a flat river path and felt much improved, but then followed up with a mountain bike ride and definitely felt more awkward on it than usual.

I’m wondering a similar thing - specifically with regard to the Moab Rocks stage race. I’m using plan builder but I’m not sure if I should enter this event as XC marathon or XC Olympic. The duration of each stage is (longer but) comparable to XCO but the event may be raced more like XC marathon I suspect.

Plus one for Moab 3 day and Transylvania Epic! I chose the mid-volume XC marathon plan but am about done with the build phase. Interestingly the Vo2 workouts are phased out and the plan switches to mostly sweet spot and threshold for the next 3 months.

Would it be better to keep in some Vo2 work? Maybe during a weekend long mtb ride? The 5 day Trans Epic is raced on gnarly east coast rocks and backcountry (non groomed) trails. There will be 5 days of leg smashing, unavoidable HR spikes.

TrainerRoad team? You guys have been participating in MTB stage races since 2017, time for a stage race-specific plan?! :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance

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Hey all,

So I am posting this a few months after the BC bike race. Here are my thoughts on using trainer road for this. I feel like using the TR plan got me pretty aerobically fit. Before the BC bike race I relay’d the Tahoe 100 and was pretty decent at that distance and elevation. However the BC race was an entirely different animal. At my power levels (~215 FTP) at the time of the race the steepness killed me. my knees weren’t ready to put out power at 60 rpm for hours upon hours of climbing, and I developed some tendonitis in them even. Looking back I’d do more TR workouts on steep climbs, and probably drop my front cog to a 30. Also I think the weekend rides should be long 4-5 hour rides of mtb just gnarly trails, and save the weekly workouts for a mix of sweet spot/endurance, and threshold. I’d probably do more SS and Endurance far out from the BC race and then move to threshold as I got closer to the race. For less steep, and gnarly MTB stage races I think the training plans fit better though, or they could work if you adjust the rpms and already have good technical skills.

Nice work! The BCBR is just a unique beast in many ways. The climbs are so steep and unrelenting, you just have to hammer to keep the bike moving. Trails in BC just tend to be much harder than else where; a black in BC is often comparable to a double black elsewhere. There was a rather infamous clip from a few years ago where a bunch of riders were walking down a ladder on a stage on the North Shore; that trail is known as one of the mellower, flowier trails!

I’m heading back for my 5th Trans-Sylvania Epic and it’s my first season using TR. I’m currently in the middle of Polarized Base and will use MTB Marathon as my Specialty Phase. I’ve been keeping my weekends open for long MTB rides. I’m hoping for my best TSE yet.

Just FYI TRs Mid Volume Off Road XCM Stage Race Plans are what I have been followoing for the past few years and am currently in the build phase of one right now and VO2 max is all over it. I have 2 VO2 and a Threshold workout per week…I do the VO2 on the trainer and the threshold TR Outdoor workout road usually sometimes MTB on road or dirt climb. If you are not getting VO2 I don’t know maybe it is the AT AI machine that has something todo with it… when initially putting in the data for the plan I put multiple years of interval training… Hope that helps shed some light Good Luck.