7 Ways To Improve Your Performance at ERock Sunrise to Sunset

Congratulations on signing up for the Elephant Rock Sunrise to Sunset 12 Hour Mountain Bike Race! It’s going to be a great day of flowing single track that’s going to test your endurance and technical skills. We want to make sure you show up to the event primed and ready to perform your best, so we’ve put together a few tips that will help you prepare and get you through your long day out on the bike.


#1 Commit to Consistent Training

Training 4 times a week (ie. twice during the workweek and twice on weekends) is good. Five training days a week is great. Six may actually be too much for some athletes, and 7 is generally not a good idea. Consistency is often more important for time-crunched athletes than the actual workout you’re doing, so make a schedule you can stick to.


#2 Get More Sleep

One of the best things you can do for your performance is to focus on recovery by getting more sleep. Aim for at least 8 hours, or commit to adding one hour of sleep to your current routine. If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, take it seriously and talk to your physician. Emerging research suggests that turning off backlit screens (phones and tablets) about two hours before bedtime may be beneficial, too. Read a book instead!


#3 Fall In Love With This Workout

3×10min SteadyState Intervals (3×20min for advanced riders), with recovery between intervals 5 and 10 minutes, respectively. It’s not sexy or complicated, but sustained time-at-intensity increases sustainable power at lactate threshold. This the performance marker that leads to higher climbing speed, less taxing rides, and overall better performance. Intensity: 90-95% of CTS Field Test power, 92-94% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate, or an 8 on a 1-10 exertion scale.


#4 Drink More During Your Workouts

Most of us ride the same set of routes, and drink the same amounts on those routes. This year try consuming an additional bottle on your 2-4 hour loops. Look at your power meter data and record your perceived exertion. You’ll feel better and your power will drop off less in the final hour of your ride.


#5 Dial In Your Nutrition

On the bike you only need to replenish 20-30% of the calories you expend each hour. So, if you’re riding at 600 kilojoules per hour (roughly equal to 600 calories), you only need 120-200 calories per hour. And for sessions under 75 minutes, you don’t need during-workout calories, just fluids and maybe electrolytes.


#6 Preserve Your Speed Through Obstacles

When the going gets rough, speed is your friend. The slower you go through rocks and roots, the more likely you are to get stuck, stopped, or bucked right off the bike. That doesn’t mean you should just close your eyes, let off the brakes, and hope for the best either. Keep your weight back, let the suspension do its job to keep your front wheel tracking over the bumps, and if you start to stall be ready to add some power with some big gear pedal strokes to keep your momentum going.


#7 Master Tight Uphill Switchbacks

Switchbacks can be the novice mountain biker’s nemesis, but with a little focus and practice you can stay on your bike and gain a lot of time over your competition. Approach the corner far to the outside of the turn, keep the bike upright, and steer your front wheel around the outside of the corner. The inside line may look tempting, but it’s often too steep, too tight, and too loose for you to maintain traction. Interestingly, on really tight turns, your rear wheel will take a shorter route and almost pivot instead of following your front wheel. Experiment with gearing during training rides – you may find that a slightly bigger gear helps you maintain traction and get back up to speed coming out of the switchback.


A pioneering company in the endurance coaching industry, CTS has improved the performance of more than 17,000 athletes over the past 18 years. Founded by renowned coach and author Chris Carmichael and home to more than 40 full-time, professional coaches, CTS provides personal coaching, training camps, and Endurance Bucket List experiences to athletes of all ability levels. For more information, visit www.trainright.com.