MTB Ride Fitness

Fitness MTB Race

Whether you ride occasionally or every day, Mountain Bike riding certainly contributes to higher fitness levels and increased endorphins. Great for body and mind and you might well feel happy just riding and doing little else in terms of physical training but if you want to perform at your best, there are a few other things that you can do for your body that will help raise your strength and overall fitness levels.

I’m not going to repeat the work of better qualified people so take a look at this link from Red Bull where you will see a few simple (but challenging) exercises that will definitely make a difference to your fitness levels.

Ready To Ride 50KM

I’m currently training for a 50 Kilometer (about 31 miles) race coming up in ten days. The word on the ground is that it’s going to be a tough one with 1443 meters of climb & descent overall and the longest constant climb of over 600 meters, 15 KM from the finish. Shall I quit now while I still have some sanity? Not a chance.

You can view the route here. It’s situated in the south of France not far from the town of Quillan in the Pyrenees. The terrain is generally hard and gritty although there will be a few soggy forest tracks because rain is forecast at the start of the day.


I wouldn’t dream of entering a race like this unless I considered my fitness and ride skills to be at appropriate levels although it’s true that there will be riders out there on the day who are going to struggle.

Training for me means riding four days on, one day off and not always on the same type of route. Some are very easy, others challenging and it works for me.

Easy Rides

An Easy Ride feels easy. I can hold a conversation with my partner and while we maintain good pace, we don’t aim to break any records. Typically, these rides are 25 KM and involve about 670 meters of climb and descent. There’s not many hazards on these routes other than a few rock gardens and sharp, flat corners which are great for tuning cornering technique.

Strength and Endurance

S & E is essential if we are going to stay in this race. Selecting a hard gear to climb a steep hill with minimal to no upper body movement definitely helps here. Beginner riders should aim for a cadence of about 70RPM and more advanced riders 60RPM.

A Hard Ride

Blasting along a trail giving it everything I’ve got is beautiful. It feels hard, my heart pounds, sometimes I feel sick, I sweat profusely and often, the odd curse escapes my lips and I wonder what I’m doing. These rides demand intense concentration and mental determination. Gone are the conversations we have on the easy rides and talk is reduced to single words.

During every ride, I practice at least five high revolution efforts for about a minute each time in an easy gear that I can spin at 100 plus rotations a minute to boost the heart and lungs. After each blast, take a one-minute break and do it again. Alternatively, there’s a 4 KM tarmac decent I use in the most difficult gear and pedal as though my life depends on it.

Switching that hill around

Start with a gear that you can comfortably pedal while keeping perfect position. Next time on the same hill, aim for a harder gear and keep repeating that process until you reach the hardest gear or simply can’t progress further.

Practice Race

Not only is this a lot of fun because the results aren’t important, it gives you some clear pointers relating to where you need to improve. I can’t practice on the course that’s coming up next week because that would mean riding some normally closed private land areas never mind an unfair advantage over out of area riders. But there are plenty of similar 50 KM trails I can use.

Apart from a great ride, the idea here is to carry everything I might need during the race: practice and assess warm up, pacing, nutrition, hydration and all the racing processes I can think of to give me an idea of fitness and identify weaknesses that need attention before the big event.

Race Activation

Typically, I take a relaxed ride the day before a race with a few Hard Ride exercises thrown in to get my body ready for the hurt that will inevitably come on race day.

Post Race

Tell your family and friends about how well you raced, drive them nuts. Share the sublime and gory details. How you nearly had the most epic crash, how long you were in the air on that jump. The organizers of the “Ronde VTT des 3 Quilles” are offering a BBQ and post race beer, I will definitely not be saying, “no thanks”. Whatever place I come in at, I will be celebrating a great achievement. Once home, I will put my feet up, have another beer and reflect on how awesome the whole training and racing journey was and then check the diary for the next event.

There will be a post race report too so watch out for that.

Comments and Questions

Ask or comment and I guarantee a reply. I value your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave them below.

Just Ride Hard, Ride Fair, Nobody Hurt

Please follow and like us:

10 thoughts on “MTB Ride Fitness

  1. This is a great post, full of inspiration and motivation and by this I mean it has inspired and motivated me, you see, I don’t exercise enough and I do realise that I should be doing more and trying harder but I don’t have anyone to motivate me, so your post here is exactly what I need and I’m sure this will also motivate and inspire many others to buy a bike, start exercising and get more active, I know it’s what I’ll be doing from now on, thank you for sharing and keep up the good work.  

    1. Thanks for your great comments, Russ. I know I’m biased when it comes to MTB but . . . get out there and give it a go, it makes a massive difference. Good luck, Steve C

  2. Hello Steve, thanks for sharing this wonderful post. I’m some one who loves to keep fit always and my home work out routine have been really nice. However looking at riding, I have not tried it before under such condition but I do the normal cycling within the area I live. I would love to be involved in this mtb fitness riding, are there any suggested locations for riders?

    1. Hi Dane, Thank you for your comments. I have a lot of information in my database and links with riders around the world. If you drop me a message with your location I will send you some links to trails that are in your area. Hope you have a great weekend, Steve C

  3. This post I think is for young men lol. I have always appreciated the sport that produces and pleasure at the same time. I live in a wonderful area, close to the sea, but on the hill. So the area makes it easy for me to ride a bicycle in which I have pleasure at the same time, And I’m 64 years old!

    1. Hi Carmen, There are some amazing female MTB riders out there too and at all levels. Perhaps I do need to adjust my language though to make sure it’s all inclusive. Keep riding! Like Albert Einstein said, 

      “It is the same with people as it is with riding a bike. Only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance.”

      Happy weekend, Steve C

  4. Excellent article on MTB Ride fitness,this is awesome and helpful,this post really opened my eyes to the benefits of fitness,riding makes one gets fit and it builds the body for high vitality.Deep riding helps the physical body building and great fitness.These rides demand intense concentration and mental determination,its true because I experience it personally,thank you for sharing this write-up,very interesting.

    1. Hi Abayomi, It’s always great to meet another rider and thanks for your kind comments. Hope you have a great weekend. Steve C

  5. MTB Ride Fitness should be very exciting activity! I love to make an opportunity and experience it. Although it is very beneficial for body,But unfortunately I am not currently in a position to ride and climb in the mountain. However, I feel very good about it and it sounds Easy Rides would be great for me,as 25KM involving 670 meters of climb and descent might not be so hard to get started. I am sure that will definitely try it in the near future.I would like to ask a question though-What kind of equipment you take along with yourself?

    Keep enjoying-Cheers

    1. Hi Shiran, Thanks for your comments. OK I am a little biased when it comes to MTB but if you get the opportunity it’s worth a go, no matter what level you aim for. Great for body and soul. I carry a backpack with a 2 liter water bladder, spares inner tubes and puncture repair kit, a multi-tool that can tighten or adjust any bike part and some lighter spares for trail side repairs. I also carry a basic first aid kit. Hope this helps. Happy Friday, Steve C

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *