The sport of mountain biking began in the 70’s as riders
ventured cross-country or onto off-road deserts, forests
and mountainous areas. Outdoor unpaved paths may consist
of trails encompassing many types of terrain including
descents, inclines, dirt, sand, rocks and washouts. The
sport provides an overall body and cardio workout.
Cross-country treks may last an hour or numerous hours,
depending on the rider. These journeys require physical
fitness, strength and endurance. Enthusiasts employ
efficient riding techniques and use many methods of
training to attain the fitness level necessary for such
a physical challenge.
One of the techniques used to maximize comfort and
improve endurance on long distance rides is to have a
bike that is properly fit. Bike fitting is performed by
professionals at a bike shop and involves adjusting
various measurements on a bike to the proportions of an
individual rider. Fitting ensures a proper riding
position that is comfortable and efficient. An
improperly fitted bike results in discomfort in various
parts of the body, including the neck, upper and lower
back, the shoulders, arms, hands, knees and feet.
Additionally, an improper fit reduces the aerodynamic
effect, causing the rider to work harder to compensate
for riding against drag. The extra energy expended over
long distances for long periods of time hastens fatigue.
The angle and height of the seat along with the height,
reach and width of the handlebars are compared with
measurements of the rider to obtain the optimum fit and
degree of comfort.
Total body fitness is required for endurance riding and
is accomplished in a variety of different ways including
callisthenic, isometric, and weight training exercises,
which are performed individually or in combination to
achieve proper fitness. Stretching exercises are also
necessary to ensure the proper amount of flexibility and
to prevent possible injury.
There are various means for increasing leg strength for
endurance riding. During the winter months, many
individuals enjoy cross-country or downhill skiing.
Hiking is also recommended. Many bikers implement indoor
exercises performing squats, leg presses and step ups.
Various training workouts are accomplished using indoor
or outdoor bikes.
Jumps or sprints are a training technique that increase
strength and prepare for endurance. This exercise
involves pedaling forcefully and quickly for 10 to 12
evolutions of each leg in a standing or sitting
position. The rider then pedals normally for 3 to 4
minutes and repeats the process, exercising for a total
of 15 to 20 minutes.
Another means of strength training involves one leg
pedaling, which not only improves leg strength but also
teaches riders how to pedal more efficiently. A rider
performs this exercise by pedaling with one leg for 30
to 60 seconds, then pedals with both legs for a few
minutes and repeats the process with the other leg. The
rider repeats the exercises until 15 to 20 minutes have
elapsed. Climbing short, steep hills as quickly as
possible using fast, forceful pedaling strokes is yet
2010 Gary Denniss