Hard Riding

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.

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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 another method.

Copyright 2010 Gary Denniss