Welcome to Part 4 of the 6 part series on “How To Become A Better Mountain Biker”. These are tips and tricks that I have used over the years to become a better rider. You may find all or some of these useful, but I can guarantee you that every single one of these tips worked and still work to this day. These should help every rider…from the beginner to the seasoned veteran. If your goal is to become a better rider…read on and keep the rubber side down!
Miles…Miles…and More Miles…
“Has Anyone Seen My Legs?”
In case you missed it…take a look at the other articles in the series.
- Part 1 – Ride Different Trails
- Part 2 – Sessioning
- Part 3 – Diversify
- Part 4 – Miles…Miles…and More Miles…
- Part 5 – Cross Training
- Part 6 – Heavy Bike Training
Part 4 of “How To Become A Better Mountain Biker” is an obvious one. You can not expect to be better at any discipline of cycling if you do not log some serious miles. A reoccurring theme throughout this series has been that “practice makes perfect”, so logically…getting a lot of miles under your belt is essential to honing in your mountain biking skills. So now it is time…whether it is a lot of short mileage rides or several long mileage rides…to start racking up the mile count and become a better mountain biker!
What Are We Looking To Accomplish With More Miles?
- Endurance – This is a pretty logical conclusion. As you put in more miles, your endurance will increase with time and pedal strokes. Hopefully, you build up a great endurance base that, as a rider, you can build on. This does require regular riding and can be lost with increased time out of the saddle. The good news is that you can get back endurance quicker than you lose it, as long as you don’t wait too long.
- Experience – With more saddle time comes more riding experience. With this experience, whether you realize it or not, your brain is recording different encounters and you are learning how to deal with different trail conditions. Ever look back on when you were younger and think, “wow…if I knew then what I knew now?” That is the exact same thing that will happen with your quest to become a better mountain biker.
How Do I Get In The Miles?
Unfortunately, many riders do not have the luxury of getting out on long weekend rides. Even worse, some riders are able to put in serious mountain rides during the week (I hate you guys!). So how does a regular Joe get in the mileage to become a better mountain biker?
- Road Miles – Yes, I said it, but it is true. Road bikes can help you become a better mountain biker. Riding a road bike will get your endurance up and improve your pedal stroke technique. The best part about road biking is the ability to leave from your garage and get a serious amount of miles in a short period of time. For those of you with family obligations, this will be a very attractive alternative to improve your mountain biking skills. The bad part (or good depending on how you look at it)…you have to buy another bike and more gear.
- More Rides At Shorter Distances – If time is a constraint, try to get in as many rides as possible…even if they are shorter in distance. On the shorter rides, try to keep your heart rate up for longer periods of time. Basically…give yourself a lot less rests. Think of these rides as conditioning bursts that are probably better off done alone. Less talking equals more riding your mountain bike.
- Get In On a LONG Ride – Do you have friends that are doing an epic this weekend? It is time to tag along and see if the legs can handle the abuse. For this ride, bring plenty of nutrition and water…even a little bit more than you think you really need. It is always better to have a little too much than not enough. Pay close attention to pacing yourself throughout the ride so you don’t blow it in the first couple of miles. If you are already conditioned to 20+ mile rides…start pushing that envelope…30+ to 40+ to 50+.
Increasing mileage helps with all riding styles as it builds up endurance and experience for different muscle groups to help you become a better mountain biker. Mileage and saddle time will always be your friend! Any rider…from world cup downhill racer to weekend warrior cross country rider…will agree…putting in the miles makes you a become a better mountain biker.