Mini Enduro – Forest of Dean

Landing the drop on Stage 1

Landing the drop on Stage 1

Hot, dry, loose, dusty, rooty and loads of fun, nicely summarises the Mini Enduro this weekend at The Forest of Dean.  It was a sell out event as usual for these relaxed and friendly events with un marshalled practice on the Saturday and then racing on the Sunday.  The 4 stages provided a number of different challenges that would test the riders’ skills, fitness and line choice with wide-open taping and some pretty cheeky lines appearing over the weekend!

For me, this race was my first of the season and I wanted to treat it as a warm up for the UK Gravity Enduro season, starting in May, so although I wanted to do well, it was mostly about confirming where I am at and getting my setup dialled in.  When I was planning my season, this was a lower priority race, meaning that I trained all week as normal and was prepared to sacrifice aspects of this race in order to prepare for UKGE.  For instance, although not mandatory, I chose to wear my Bell Super 2R full face helmet this weekend as that is what I will be required to wear at the UKGE races all summer.  It was hot, sweaty and I would have preferred to wear a trail lid, but I wanted to get a feel for the best way to race with this helmet and practice detaching the chin guard etc.

Spicy on test for Wideopenmag

My race-ready Lapierre Spicy on test for Wideopenmag.

Early season races can be valuable tools for reviewing your current level of fitness and conditioning, so I have spent some time this morning reviewing my performance and seeing if there is anything that I can address in my training programme over the coming weeks.  I purposely did a lot of riding on the Friday (at my local trails) and on the Saturday, practicing at FOD in order to simulate the sort of mileage I may be covering at the UKGE races.  I found that my all-day endurance and ability to ride hard on consecutive days was absolutely fine and I went into the final stage feeling pretty fresh.  A big part of this was down to getting my nutrition right before during and after riding each day.

I felt strong on the bike all day and my conditioning over 2-3 minutes for the stages was pretty good.  I think I could still do more work on my anaerobic engine for hard and prolonged sprints between sections or up short climbs.  Having said that, you can always be a bit fitter in that respect and improving your anaerobic endurance is an almost constant aspect of MTB race training across many disciplines. Either way, I will be getting on the pain-train over the coming weeks in order to improve this aspect of my racing.

Overall I had a great weekend with my best result ever, 16th out of about 120 in Masters.  I missed a couple of my lines and made some small mistakes, so plenty to work on skills and concentration wise, but I am really happy with my performance and can’t wait for Triscombe in a couple of weeks!

Stay Strong


First MTB Strength Factory Race Win!


I am really stoked to announce that the first MTB Strength Factory trained athlete to win a race is Mart Astley who won the Forest of Dean Night Enduro last weekend.  He totally smoked the whole field on a tough and pedally course and got fasted time of the day, beating the pro category riders as well as winning Masters.  Happy Days!!

I won’t lie to you – Mart was already pretty damn quick and fit when he came to me, however since working together his fitness is really improving and he is going to be at the sharp end at a few UKGE’s this summer as well as Epic Cymru and a few other races. This is what he had to say about our training:

“I started working with Ben back in November.  I’m a busy boy and don’t have a huge amount of time to train so I wanted to use what time I have efficiently.  Ben has created me a programme that works well with a busy schedule and means I’m using my time effectively.  Best of all, I actually look forward to the sessions which is something I have never done before….well maybe with the exception of nasty interval sessions!  It’s early days still but indications show I’m heading in the right direction, I’m definitely feeling stronger on the bike!”

Well done Mart and let’s hope this is the first of many podiums for MTB Strength Factory trained athletes this summer.