We Are Recruiting Riders!

MTB Strength Factory Racer

As you may have already seen on Facebook or on the website, the MTB Strength Factory will have access to a great training facility from 1st November in SW Bristol.  After a successful spring/summer of coaching athletes for National level racing as well as helping a number of trail riders across the UK, it is time to look ahead to the winter and preparations for the season ahead.

I am currently recruiting trail riders and racers from Bristol and across the UK who want to train with MTB Strength Factory over this winter and beyond.  I can provide face to face or distance training for men and women across all MTB disciplines and across all levels of ability.  The main requirements are that you will love riding your bike, be open minded about training and willing to work hard to achieve your personal goals.

There are a range of coaching packages to suit most people’s needs and wallets and you can find them on the Coaching page of this website.  As well as that I can offer power testing on my Wattbike where we will set up your power and heart rate training zones so you can train at the correct intensity for maximum results.

If you or somebody you know may be interested in working with MTB Strength Factory, then please get in touch and we can arrange a no-obligation chat to discuss how best to work together.  ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com

Stay Strong

Ben

 

New Training Location – Bristol

MTB Strength Factory Gym

I am really pleased and excited to announce that MTB Strength Factory will be using an awesome, private gym in West Bristol from November.  The gym is called Functional Fitness and I will be training clients there for this winter off-season and going into next year.

It is not a great big globo-gym full of machines, TV’s and cardio-equipment, instead it offers a great space to develop as an athlete, with barbells, kettlebells and your bodyweight.  It is run by a couple of really good trainers with a great ethos about training and I am really pleased to start working in that environment.  If you look closely at the photo, it even has monkey bars!  How cool is that?

To accommodate the type of training I want to do with my riders I will also be adding some more barbells and discs, and a Wattbike for power training and testing.  In case you have never used a Wattbike, they really are the best tool around for indoor cycle training, measuring power, HR and many other factors, allowing us to monitor your progress and test regularly as well as putting you through some precise and gruelling winter workouts.

The gym is in Ashton, West Bristol.  It is only a few minutes cycle from Parson Street train station and 10 minutes from Bedminster. Check it out on Google Maps below:

LOCATION

I am just finalising the details of exactly what training packages and prices to offer, however if you live in Bristol or the general area and think you may be interested in training with me for recreational riding or racing, then please drop me a line on ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com.  Distance packages will also be available with details to follow next week when the website will be updated.

I look forward to seeing you in the gym soon!

Stay Strong

Ben

 

Autumn Down Time

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Before you get into this article and start shouting at the computer, I am NOT telling you to not ride your bike when you want to!

Now we got that clear……

For the racers amongst you, it is probably the end of the season.  Behind you is a long summer of racing, travelling, training and hard work as well as loads of fun and good times.  Many of you will be thinking about next season already and making plans for your training, improved fitness, new bikes and general race domination.  That is cool and it shows you are passionate about racing your MTB and I am giving you a big high-5 for your attitude.

However…… the start of October is too soon to start winter training.

After an intense season you need time to relax mentally and physically and let your body recover from the demands of the season before.  If you go straight into your winter training plan now you are probably going to burn out and be sick of riding and training by June, just when the season is getting into full swing.  It is different for everybody, and depends on where you live and at what level you are racing, but as a general rule you should look to start some sort of structured low intensity training in November or December.

Obviously if the weather is great then go and ride your bike with your buddies, but make sure it is not too hard and make sure it is for fun.  Turn off the HR monitor, the Garmin or the Strava.  Who cares?!  Just have fun.  It is also a great time to do other sports and to enjoy the outdoors on foot at a more relaxed pace.  Keep active, go swimming, hill walking, climbing, play football, ride BMX at the skate park, go for a run, it really does not matter!  Just chill, enjoy nature and don’t worry about training or racing.

If you have taken a month or 2 out from proper training, with only weekly rides with mates and a few other sports or days out in the hills then when you do start your training programme you should feel refreshed, energised and ready to commit your body and mind 100% to your goals for the next season.  You are also less likely to peak too soon and burn out like the rider who trained right through and started doing intervals in October.  That rider may be quick for the first race of the season but probably won’t last the distance.

For many racers there is always that worry about what other racers are doing.  “Do you think Dave xxxx has started training yet?  I really want to beat him, so I am going to start training a week before him!”  For a start the fastest racers will ALL be relaxing and taking a break right now and even if one or 2 are on a different programme, does it matter?  You need to go into the season as well prepared as possible, and that means taking time out now.

The final thing I will add to this is more personal but still really important.  Many of you will place demands on your friends and family to support you through your race season and whilst you are in intense training.  Whether that is missed family gatherings, your wife driving you to the trails, your parents paying for your bike and race entries, there is usually some sacrifice by somebody close to you.  Now is the time to spend some time together, thank them for the help, catch up with people and restore a bit or normality (normal does not have to be boring!) to your life.  Let them know that their help is valued and do something they want to do instead, even if that means going to Ikea on a Saturday instead of riding!  I know it all sounds a bit sensitive and some of you are probably wondering if you have wandered onto the wrong website, but having a stable home and personal life is super important to the success of any athlete.

Chill out and stay strong.

Ben

Post-Season Assessment

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For most mountain bike racers across the UK, the racing season has finished, barring a few smaller regional races and we are going into a more chilled out period of riding for fun, doing other off-bike things and just not worrying about racing, training or performance.  Typically, after this down time, racers will start training again in late October or November with a new programme and full of motivation for another winter of hard work to prepare for the next season.  Whilst, on the whole I am talking about racers, many recreational riders may be going through a similar process and just thinking about riding further or harder next summer too.

In order to make the most of winter training when it starts, we really need to have an appreciation of how the most recent season went.  Which tracks suited you?  Did you feel strong on sprints?  Did you perform better on long or short courses? Wet or dry races? etc etc.  This is called a post-season assessment, although no doubt other people have different names for it too.

Without carrying out a post-season assessment of your performance and abilities it is hard to properly plan for the next season in order to maximise your training time and to get the best possible results.  The assessment of your previous performance allows you to build on strengths and target weaknesses to help you become an all round faster rider.  Faster riders win more races – simples!

First of all you need to look at the demands of your discipline, whether that is DH, XC, enduro or marathon and think about the qualities that matter.  For instance an XC racer will need to be able to make fast starts, race up long climbs at a relatively high power output and will need good race tactics, which are quite different to the demands placed on a DH racer.  You then need to measure or record how weak or strong you think you are at each factor, based on the last season of racing and training.  You can use a simple scale from 1 to 5, where 1 means you are one of the worst in your category at any particular factor, and 5 is where you are one of the best.

Taking an XC rider as an example, if he immediately overtakes the few riders in front when the race starts he could put down a score of 4 or 5 for ‘Race start.’  The same rider may struggle and lose places on long, climbs and only score a 2 for ‘Long climbs.’

The important thing to do is to use your actual race results and memory to aid you and not just make it up.  You can also use results from in-season testing, like power output, HR data or gym based tests like vertical jump.  When you look over your results, think about the characteristics of that course or race and how you approached it and how you faired.  This will all help you to fill in your post-season assessment.

The assessment does not have to be based purely on hard facts however, and the way you feel and perceive your racing is also important.  For instance the people you ride with may have opinions about the way you ride and race.  Similarly there may be photos and videos that will give you clues about your riding style.  Check out Roots and Rain for race photos and see how your body position and cornering technique measure up to the best riders.  If it is crap, then get some coaching!

Let’s look at an example for an XC racer:

Worst Below Ave Average Above Ave Best
1 2 3 4 5
Start X
Short Climbs X
Long Climbs X
Tech Sections X
Flat Course X
Mud X
Dry/Dusty X
Running with Bike X
Finish Sprints X
Short Races X
Long Races X

From this basic assessment we can see that the rider is probably a heavier, more powerful rider than many, who struggles with longer climbs and courses, but excels at short sprints and powerful moves, and with average bike handling skills.  To become a more rounded rider for the next season we could address a number of things or take a number of approaches based on the assessment results:

As the rider is already strong and powerful, less gym time may be needed to develop those qualities.

The rider may benefit from a reduction of bodyweight (without losing power).

The rider has average bike handling skills, so time should be dedicated to becoming above average for next season.

In the new year, more long duration intervals and hill repeats should be included to develop speed on longer climbs.

None of this is very complicated, and with some careful thought and analysis of your results you should be able to draw some conclusions to make sure you get your winter training right and don’t just go off in the wrong direction and waste your time.  I will be carrying this process out with my riders over the next couple of weeks and it will be instrumental when we are designing the programme for the winter months.

Stay Strong

Ben