Hot training tips for the Fox on Rocks Gravity Enduro!
We are super lucky in Australia to have a booming ‘womens only’ race scene. Taking out some of the potential for more aggressive, faster male riders racing on top of you in the pursuit of sheep-station glory has meant that hundreds more women are lining up to have a go at mountain biking: how good is that!?
While many of the events offered as women-specific are cross country, we are lucky to have the Fox on Rocks Enduro for those who enjoy flying down the hills, and having a bit of a natter on the way back up.
In order to prepare for this years race I have put together a bit of a list of things to work on and prepare for to complete the race in 2018.
Gravity Enduro is a discipline which is growing in popularity, whereby riders have ‘liason’ stages to the top of the hill where the ‘run’ (trail) starts, and are timed on completing the descent. As a Level 2 NCAS Accredited Mountain Bike coach I have assisted numerous riders to success locally, nationally and even at an Enduro World Series Level! But today I am going to write a few helpful tips for those of you newer to the sport, or those looking to maybe step up and ride a bit quicker but are uncertain how to go about it.
1. Get a sick bike
Well you don’t need a sick bike in the $10,000 sense of the word, but you do need a working mountain bike. Front and rear brakes must be functioning, and a bit of suspension never goes astray! Many ‘gravity’ bikes have 160-170mm suspension front and rear (that’s a HEAP!!), but to start just get your hands on whatever mountain bike you can and try and get something good quality; Fox on Rocks trails are suitable for cross-country bikes, too!
Save lives. Grab a full-face as per MTBA requirements for the event.
3. Mate Rides
The foundation of Gravity racing is skill, backed up with fitness, so first and foremost the way to start training for the event is to find some mates who ride and head out with them. Trail variety is key, and there are great benefits to stopping and ‘playing’ on your bike (see that corner? I can do it faster! See that drop, I can land it smoother!). Pretending you’re a kid in the backyard may seem counter intuitive in a world where we are all racing to get somewhere, but does great things for skill acquisition. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a four-year-old again, that time was magic, what with its lack of responsibilities, no work, focus on fun….
4. Trail Variety
As mentioned, the focus is the skill, so use this training to get out and experience new and diverse trail networks. Within SEQ we have a myriad of different trail types; even if you’re tied to riding in the more metro areas the difference between Gap Creek, Bunya and Daisy/Cornubia are vast. By riding different trail surfaces with different obstacles and proportion of climbing and descending, you will become a better rider.
5. Skills Coaching
If you’re really getting into it, getting a skills coach to help iron out imperfections and point you in the right direction, which can be gold for your riding progression!
6. Fitness Base
To complete the event, all is required is a level of fitness to be out on the bike for several hours (with chatting and snack stops between runs, of course!). This can be achieved by anyone with a mountain bike that is able to ride/push up 15-25km of hilly demanding terrain, taking in the capacity to take breaks as required.
The next step, when you’re looking not to just complete but to push for faster times, is to increase fitness on top of the skill level.
To do this, you want to put some time aside for training. While those more invested in the pointy end of the sport will do adjunct fitness training on road and cross country bikes, if all you have is a gravity-stile bike that’s ok too.
In addition to skill acquisition, gravity’s demands are holding it up and riding smoothly on the rivet. Riding with someone faster than you down a descent is a great way to replicate these event demands and should be considered a couple of times a week, if possible.
In addition to this, ‘fitness’ based training, including a variety of time spent predominantly pedalling (yep, even uphill) will increase your stamina on the bike; and when you’re fresher at the top of the liaison, you have more to give on the way down!
For the time poor this could even be a commute to work a couple of times a week, or a couple of more ‘cross country’ rides where a metric of time or distance is the goal, and gently increasing that each week. For more information on specific training or efforts contact me at email@example.com
7. Race Week
While you can’t do a lot to increase your fitness in the final week of the race, you certainly can lose it by doing too much! Depending on your fitness, the taper can be longer (a few weeks if super fit!) or shorter (perhaps just a week) to reach a great balance between cumulative/chronic fatigue (that which makes you faster but TIRED!) and rest (that which doesn’t increase your fitness, but allows freshness and form to rise!). It’s a tricky relationship to get right, but for the newer rider I would recommend a week of mainly rest or recovery rides, with a short session of gravity efforts on known trails three-days out.
From here it’s all about recovering from that last ride, and doing course reconnaissance (if possible) of the race course prior to the race. Remember to keep fluids up in the heat! The day prior most riders recommend a couple of short efforts in race style at about 80% of race intensity.
8. Race Day
You’re here! Enjoy it! Make the most of the social offerings of Gravity Racing and remember to keep fluids and nutrition up to optimise that brain function in the singletrack! Being nervous is normal, but if you can focus on keeping the body soft and relaxed in the trails, keep looking up, and pedal hard where you can you’re going to have a great time!
For more info check out the Fox on Rocks FB Page here!