It Is All About Percentages


No, I am not a maths geek, although I do like Sudoku, however I just want to explain a concept to you today that involves some basic maths.

Still here?       Good!

Let’s take a relaxed trail ride with your mates as an example.  You are all spinning along a fire road climb to get to the top of the sweet singletrack descent.  You are probably chatting and catching up since your last ride out.

For the purpose of illustrating this point, let us assume that you all do similar amounts of riding and have similar levels of cardiovascular fitness.  If you all get to the top at the same time and at the same speed, and in the same gear, who will be freshest, and who will be the tiredest?

In my opinion the person with the freshest legs will be the strongest person, and the most tired person will be the weakest person (putting aside things like nutrition and age etc).  The reason why is all about percentages.

The strongest rider in the group has been in the gym, hitting the squat rack hard and he can put some serious power through the cranks due to his increased strength.  The weakest person, never does any strength work, and only rides his bike for training and fitness.  As a result there is a big difference in the maximum strength of these riders and therefore the maximum power they can put into the cranks to get up the hill.

If both these riders are ‘spinning’ at the same speed then we can see that the stronger rider is working at a lower percentage of his maximum compared to the weaker rider who is working at a higher level.  It is working at a higher percentage of your maximum effort for longer periods of time that ultimately tires you out over the course of a ride.  This is why sprinting on your bike and steep, out of saddle climbs can really take it out of you when you go out riding.

Imagine a long, winding climb for 40 minutes plus.  Now imagine you could be spinning and working at only 40% of your maximum for this amount of time because you are strong, and compare that to the weaker rider who has to work at 50% or more to get up the same hill.  I know who I would rather be and I know who will be in better shape to dominate the downhill that they worked so hard for.

Repeated long climbs, like those found on a gravity enduro event will emphasise this even more and that is why you will find most top enduro riders working hard in the gym through the winter and into the race season.

I realise that I have simplified things somewhat here to get my point across, and I am not saying you don’t need endurance training and time on the bike.  I just want you to think about the benefits of being stronger and how it can speed you up on the bike.

The message then, is that increased strength  usually means increased endurance, and if you want to ride faster, one of the things you should look to improve is your whole body strength.

Stay Strong