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Coach's Column - Get Into Top Early Season Form For 24 Hours of Old Pueblo Despite Cold Wintery Weather

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |February 20, 2014 3:38 AM
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Coach's Column with Lynda Wallenfels - Get Into Top Early Season Form For 24 Hours of Old Pueblo Despite Cold Wintery Weather

Question: "I am racing 24 Hours in Old Pueblo in 2014 on a Duo team. What is the best way to insure I am going fast for a race in February when I live in cold and snowy New England?"


Answer: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is a full-blown MTB-carnival in the desert, with a bike race inside. Lots of stoke and excitement, lots of color, major diversity and a great winter trip for any rider. The field consists of seriously fit competitive racers gunning for the win, naked guys riding laps on fat bikes and everything in between. To be racing fast relative to the top riders at OP means showing up with good form. You can’t race OP off the sofa and expect to be in the lead pack.

The course at OP is flowy and low-tech. This means that training 100% on roads, snow, rollers, a trainer or cross training is entirely reasonable. I do recommend some of those road or trainer miles are pedaled on your MTB race bike to ensure you are adapted to the bike and position. I’ve had athletes show up to OP having their pre-ride lap be their first ride on dirt in months and race themselves onto the solo podium.

From today, Dec 16th to race day, Feb 14th is 9 weeks.

Goals for this 9 week training block should contain a combination of base training to set-up for your 2014 season, and specific training to make you fast at OP. Overall the OP course is more of a tempo course than a power course. Specific training for the OP course conveniently melds with goals of getting in base miles for the main season, which makes OP a great prep event.


Here is what you need to check off during this nine-week training block to be fast at OP:

- Pedal a minimum of twice per week. Tues/Thurs interval session indoors is perfect. This will -increase fitness and maintain pedaling efficiency.

- Aerobic train an additional 3-4 times per week either riding or cross training with an aerobic based activity. Cross country skiing and snow shoeing are perfect cross training activities. Riding on the road or snow bike fit great, too. Mix it up, make it fun and get outside several times per week.

- Strength train with a focus on core 3 x per week.

- Stretch and foam roll daily.

- Yoga 1-2 x per week.

- Improve body composition if it is a limiter.

- Eat a clean, anti-inflammatory diet to improve recovery speed.

- Stay healthy.

- Sleep 8+ hours per night.



Specific OP training:


Core work:

24 hours in the Old Pueblo is hard on the lower back due to many compression dips, whoops and corners. These impacts really add up on Duo team riders who can expect to do 10-11 laps or 161-177 miles each to take the win. The whoops aren’t big but the multiple and continuous nature of them accumulates fatigue. Putting in a solid block of core training nicely jives with 2014 season base training goals. In December and January, work towards making your body injury-resilient and your core rocksolid strong. This will set you up for a consistent season void of injury-induced training interruptions.


Sub-threshold tempo training:

The prime physiological ability required to be fast on the OP course is tempo or sub-threshold. This is the ability to stay on the gas, in power L3 or heart rate zone 3, for extended periods of time without rest. This is great base training too, which again makes OP a perfect race to setup nicely for the 2014 season. Start your tempo training with 30 minutes non-stop in power L3 or heart rate zone 3 or tempo pace and build up to 75 minutes.


Cornering skill:

The OP course might have 500 corners per lap. Maybe more! Practice cornering drills and hone your skills.


Anaerobic endurance:

Near the start of each lap at OP are "The Bitches”. These are six short, steep, 50 foot hills along a 1.3 mile section of the arrow straight Gasline road.  

Hitting them at full speed in a big gear and maintaining momentum over each of them takes a fast rider about five minutes. This looks like 6 x 20-45 second intervals in 5 minutes. Putting out this much power without some training in the legs will quickly lead to muscle cramping and disproportionate fatigue. Some anaerobic training must be done before OP to be able to get over The Bitches fast and stay on the gas without blowing up.


The LW Bitches Interval session:

Warm up well, then up a steep hill (or on a trainer with high resistance) do 6 x 30 seconds at power L6 or at 90% effort level with 20 second recoveries at power L1 or spinning very easily. During your 30 seconds "on” mix seated and standing pedaling. Finish with a short cool down and stretch.

Arrive at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with some tempo and anaerobic endurance training in your back pocket, solid core strength, rad cornering skills and a ton of stoke to have a great 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race.

Lynda Wallenfels is a Category 1 certified USA Cycling coach. She coaches mountain bike, cross country and endurance athletes to personal bests and national championships. Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes for 16 years and racing for 18 years. Contact her through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching and consulting at

anonymous 09/20/2014 8:56 PM
polo 06/16/2014 1:34 AM
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