Getting Fit for your MTB Holiday

Packing your bike up for a trip to riding pastures new is a genuine pleasure and a treat.  Most of us only get to do it once a year and we want to make the most of the occasion.  It is possible, therefore, to overestimate what we’re capable of or, more pertinently, underestimate our fitness.

Never fear, with a little preparation and a training schedule, it’s quite possible to arrive at the start of your trip fully fit and ready to go.  In so doing, you can avoid potential injuries and the disappointment of having to spend days 3 to 5 of your precious holiday time, off the bike recovering.

There are no hard and fast rules as to what your programme should include.  It all depends on your general fitness levels, how often you normally ride per week, where you’re going on holiday and how much riding you’re planning to do whilst there.  What I’ve put together below, therefore, is only a suggestion and should be considered a starting point for your own plans.

As ever with fitness advice, one should always recommend that you don’t begin too hard and that you should always desist if you’re showing signs of serious fatigue or injury.

12 – 10 Weeks to Go:

Begin steadily especially if you haven’t stirred yourself for a while.  Aim for one or two rides a week of about one to two hours.  This can be outdoors or on a turbo.  The aim is to gently ease yourself back into being regularly back on the bike so have a low intensity: use a low gear on the hills and aim for a quick, regular cadence.  With 10 weeks to go, you should be able to put a bit more effort in and to up the intensity a little.  If not, however, don’t worry, we still have plenty of time.

9 Weeks to Go:

A rest week.  Take it easy, reduce the number of rides or shorten them and lower the intensity (if you’d upped it in the last week).

8 – 6 Weeks to Go:

Time to increase your distance and intensity.  Keep the two rides a week that you previously had and add an extra one of maybe two to three hours.  On the shorter rides, the focus should be building the intensity: push yourself a little on the hills, get out of the saddle and raise your heart rate.  On the longer ride take it a bit more easy but try to incorporate long steady climbs and use the extra time to practice skills.

5 Weeks to Go:

Another rest week.  You lucky people: relax like you did in the previous rest week.

4 – 2 Weeks to Go:

Make it count.  These are the last few weeks to build your fitness and be properly prepared.  If you have the time, add another one hour ride into your week but, if not, try getting another half hour onto your two shorter rides.  Start working hard on your rides, instead of riding at a steady pace, push hard for ten minute spells.  Sign up to something like Strava and try to improve your position on a segment or, if you’re on a turbo, use Youtube to find a training video to push you along.  Try to add another hour onto your longer ride and, again, practice skills and build stamina.

1 Week to Go:

The final rest week.  Again, take it easy and use the time to plan what you’re going to take with you and to set the bike up so that it’s running perfectly.

Holiday Time:

Enjoy.