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  1. #1
    Yasmine A.
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    Slow rate of MTB improvement

    I would like to ask about training and how much faster/technically good a rider can really improve. Ever since I discovered my passion for MTB (a year and a half ago) I've been pushing pretty hard with riding (training 4/5 times a week in a variety of terrains, riding with faster riders, cross training by running twice a week and most recently getting a coach). Although I am improving and getting personal records on strava, my rate of improvement is far lower than I would like and I'm not so close to top 10 riders in my local trails. Well, I'm still enjoying it and still challenging myself on every ride but what is it that allows big jumps in quality/speed.. Is it just time?

    im a girl- 35yrs

  2. #2
    Hi There!
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    You can get good at mountain biking in a year and a half, but it takes way longer to get great at it. If you're trying to be one of the "top 10 riders in my local trails" maybe try talking to them and find out how long they've been riding and if they have any tips.
    NTFTC

  3. #3
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    Do you feel it is your technical skills slowing you? Much as I hate to say it, you need to put in road miles to improve your mountain biking - or at least some equivalent . Long rides, time trial type intense rides, intervals, long climbs.
    Also, road riding with other riders teaches you the facts of life - there is a huge difference between an average rider, a talented amateur, a gifted amateur and someone ready for semi-pro, pro level.
    I was involved in a club for several years and as a low average rider, no amount of training and riding ever got me to the level of the good riders in the club - it comes down to genetics.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasmine Adel View Post
    I would like to ask about training and how much faster/technically good a rider can really improve. Ever since I discovered my passion for MTB (a year and a half ago) I've been pushing pretty hard with riding (training 4/5 times a week in a variety of terrains, riding with faster riders, cross training by running twice a week and most recently getting a coach). Although I am improving and getting personal records on strava, my rate of improvement is far lower than I would like and I'm not so close to top 10 riders in my local trails. Well, I'm still enjoying it and still challenging myself on every ride but what is it that allows big jumps in quality/speed.. Is it just time?

    im a girl- 35yrs
    The top 10 riders in your are have probably been riding for more decades than years you have been riding. There is no substitute for time in service when learning a skill or groups of skills. It takes a minimum of about 10,000 hours to be truely effective of something (taken from a pretty good book I read), and this generally equates to 4 or 5 years minimum of pretty solid training time.

    My suggestion would be to continue your lessons with your coach. It is always the stuff we don't realize and feel that we need an experienced person to hel[p us with. In time I would eventually and slowly figure out the next tid bit, have a small breakthrough if you will. Instruction will make the best leaps and biggest breakthroughs more rapidly.

    Even so expect to meet that statistical 10,000 hours in before you really start feelinig proficient.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Re: Slow rate of MTB improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by Phinias View Post
    The top 10 riders in your are have probably been riding for more decades than years you have been riding. There is no substitute for time in service when learning a skill or groups of skills. It takes a minimum of about 10,000 hours to be truely effective of something (taken from a pretty good book I read), and this generally equates to 4 or 5 years minimum of pretty solid training time.
    Was just going to quote the four years figure.

    There are a number of things that happen as you practice a physical skill, and they all take time.

    I have a copy of Friel's Mountain Biker's Training Bible that I've been following to varying degrees for the last couple years. One of the things he says, in the section on figuring out a yearly hours target, is that if you're making improvements with your current number of hours, you should probably just stick with that number. It's a little tough for someone who's been riding eighteen months to choose a number, because it's not like you have a few different years to look back on. And, if you're moving up categories, your races may be getting longer in a way that could mess with your weekly structure if you don't bump your total hours some. But for the most part, I think it's actually really good advice. Endurance athletes have a tendency to train like addicts, and overdo it.

    So, did you improve over the course of this season? Was this season better than the last? What category are you racing?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    To add, if there were any shortcuts, don't you think we'd all do them, and sell books describing how to do it? It's hard to predict or trigger those sudden, big improvements. Friel and your coach both do their best to get them to happen, and at the right time. But really, when your body and your nervous system are ready to make a big improvement, they will.

    One of the choices you can make is where to put your training time. If you have some things you don't do as well as the other women in your class, you can probably get more overall improvement by working on those than by emphasizing what you're already better at.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    It's hard to predict or trigger those sudden, big improvements. Friel and your coach both do their best to get them to happen, and at the right time. But really, when your body and your nervous system are ready to make a big improvement, they will.

    Ain't that the truth, Andrew. I think I have my timing dialed in, and I'm right maybe 30% of the time. Some days I feel like a beast and other days I'm reminded of my age.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  8. #8
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I seem to be able to trigger a post-season slump well enough, but I probably have about your same rate of success on planned peaks myself. :-P
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  9. #9
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    Are you wanting to go faster on XC trails or faster on technical trails?

  10. #10
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    If you want good trail skills; skateparks, trials and jump parks are important. I used (past tense because it was stolen) a Giant STP. Also buy shin guards unless you enjoy smashing your shins on your pedals. Fitness wise, mix in some tabatas.

    BTW, all the 12 to 16 year olds will think you're cool for hanging out at the skate park.
    Proponent for an Evidence Driven Life.
    Occupation: Disposable gene transfer machine
    Current HTFU status: 4/10; increasing

  11. #11
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    Yasmine, where I live, to be in the top 10, you are somewhat other-worldly in ability and fitness. Expecting to be there in a year and a half is very unrealistic IMHO. And no matter how good I could possibly get, there will always be some 75 year old dude on a 25 year old rigid beater that comes racing by, stops to tear my legs off and feed them to me for lunch, and continues merrily on his way.

    It's good to have goals and all, but if it all becomes too much like work, you may end up looking for something else to do for fun. Just keep riding, and having fun. The fitness and skill will come to you in due time.

    And, if you're really serious about fitness on a bike, get a road bike and start laying down some serious mileage. Best thing I ever did for my MTB fitness. . . . . and the second best thing is not even close.

  12. #12
    because GIANT
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    join some group rides with people at the top level, and absolutely kill yourself trying to keep up...twice a week. you should find you are working the hardest you ever thought you could work and wonder how the body can handle it. rest of week easier recovery ride and good diet. keep at this you'll come around if you are due to come around.

    must chase! the rest sorts itself out

  13. #13
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    I would really think your coach can give you a good assessment on your ability to get to an elite or top 10 level.

    Even though I'm not a racer, I would think you need to enter some races to see how you do over an entire course and not just strava intervals. Just from informal duels with friends on road bikes years ago there is a lot of psychological strategy that goes into racing that doesn't exist on strava.

    At 35 you may never beat younger opponents, but you may be competitive at your age group or set yourself up to be in a few years.

    John
    1995 Trek 970 - 80mm Atom Race
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  14. #14
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    Hmm
    As a relative noob here's my two cents. You are way more driven than most. That's half the battle.
    Secondly you gotta put in the time. Once you get where you are now you're light years ahead of the other 90% of riders. From here on out it will be the little things. Race the trail. My advice... Ditch Strava for now & compete against yourself. Race the trail. Right now you are your own worst enemy. You want what you can't have, yet. Race the trail. You have to find yourself. You have to know exactly what you can do & do it every time regardless of your physical or mental condition. Race the trail
    When you can't beat yourself anymore then you can do look for more worthy opponents.
    Did I mention race the trail yet?
    Race the trail.
    The bike doesn't make you go fast.
    You make the bike go fast.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by velo99 View Post
    Race the trail.
    Gotta a problem with race the trail if it is a widely used trail. You race the trail and and run over some kid, it will soon become a hiking only trail.

    John
    1995 Trek 970 - 80mm Atom Race
    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
    1993 GT All Terra - 46mm Mag 21
    (STOLEN)

  16. #16
    I have Flat Pedal shame.
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    Naaa, just yell STRAVA! when you do it. People will totally understand.
    We don't ride to add days to our life, we ride to add life to the days we have left here.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasmine Adel View Post
    ... what is it that allows big jumps in quality/speed.. Is it just time?
    Yes.

    I've always ridden fastest when I didn't have to think about the riding.
    I am not second-guessing my nutrition.
    I am not wondering if my training plan is good.
    I am not wondering if the course is too hard.
    I am not worried about what's-his-face, or his new bike.
    I have a job to do - right here and right now. I trained. I built my skills. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I will do my best.
    If I have to think about the rocks, logs, jumps, etc. on the course, I'm not even close to being ready for top 10. There's a lot of muscle memory and technique to be developed and honed.
    When it's all said and done, then I think about it. What was good? What was bad? Most times, my body reacts to the stress very predictably.

    All that said, if I wanted to race seriously right now, today, I'd say give me 1 full race season to prepare (to the exclusion of every other activity that I or my family does), and I might make a local top 10 the following season - and I've been riding (and sometimes racing) MTBs for over 20 yrs. That's how long it would take me to get into the top 10 from my current weekend warrior fitness level.
    Remember, everyone in that top 10 is working just as hard as you. The local ladies here ride CX and follow a local criterium series - they get faster after the MTB season is over!

    It all takes time. Just don't forget to have fun!

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  18. #18
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    What kinds of bikes do you own. 29er dual sus ? Good place to start there. Cross train, run, swim commute by bike. Why the need for speed? Do you race? As said before, road bike. How are you technical skills? Go to some camps. How is the bike fit? Group rides are awesome. Start there.

  19. #19
    Yasmine A.
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    Talking about motivation! Woah...thanks

  20. #20
    Yasmine A.
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    Yes.

    I've always ridden fastest when I didn't have to think about the riding.
    I am not second-guessing my nutrition.
    I am not wondering if my training plan is good.
    I am not wondering if the course is too hard.
    I am not worried about what's-his-face, or his new bike.
    I have a job to do - right here and right now. I trained. I built my skills. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I will do my best.
    If I have to think about the rocks, logs, jumps, etc. on the course, I'm not even close to being ready for top 10. There's a lot of muscle memory and technique to be developed and honed.
    When it's all said and done, then I think about it. What was good? What was bad? Most times, my body reacts to the stress very predictably.

    All that said, if I wanted to race seriously right now, today, I'd say give me 1 full race season to prepare (to the exclusion of every other activity that I or my family does), and I might make a local top 10 the following season - and I've been riding (and sometimes racing) MTBs for over 20 yrs. That's how long it would take me to get into the top 10 from my current weekend warrior fitness level.
    Remember, everyone in that top 10 is working just as hard as you. The local ladies here ride CX and follow a local criterium series - they get faster after the MTB season is over!

    It all takes time. Just don't forget to have fun!

    -F

  21. #21
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    Slow rate of MTB improvement

    Two things I pick up out of the OP. 1. Is overtraining occurring? Ridding five days a week plus other workouts could actually offset any other gains if you aren't allowing for recovery, and 2. One of the best ways to improve is to ride with people better than yourself and make yourself hang with them.

    Don't we have a race/train sub forum here?


    Sent from my iPad - Stupid autocorrect!

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