Sam Arthur, strength and conditioning coach at Henley Practice is training for mountain bike endurance races. We asked him to tell us how being strong relates to endurance.
Last year I reached an all-time peak in maximal strength & power, followed by a similar high in aerobic fitness 6 months later. Unfortunately, not both at the same time!
Knowing the pitfalls of last year I should be able to hit both peaks within a shorter time frame this year without allowing one to negatively impact the other. This is important for me as I have discovered and decided to compete in Gravity Enduro MTB racing.
I entered my first enduro event last year in Surrey run by Pedalhounds and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The average race is between 30-50km in length and is 2-5hrs long. However places are decided upon not by who finishes the race in first place but by your total cumulative time for multiple downhill stages. There are roughly 10-20 of these per race, averaging 2-10 minutes in duration.
For this sort of racing you need high levels of strength and a sadistic lactate threshold, all the while having a sufficient V02 max to effortlessly pedal from one timed stage to the other. That said, bike handling skill trumps all that. My own bike handling skills will never be on par with the top level enduro racers. However, being a strength and conditioning coach in Henley with the know-how, I can match and potentially surpass some of them in my physical capabilities. That is why my goal is to be the most physically dominant athlete at every race I compete in this year.