DH training with limited terrain
I live in Mt. Airy, MD where there are no pump tracks or dirt jumps. I go Dh ing every sunday. I am planning on starting dh racing in the spring and summer. I just picked up some Kreitler rollers for fun. What can i do on the other days of the week to get prepared.
P.S. I am so jealous of all the places you guys have to ride.
We can (and eventually will) go into a ton of detail, but for now let’s keep it very simple:
Technique and mindset are more important than the actual situation. Eric gets some excellent DH training.
What you need
When you put together a training plan, no matter how basic or detailed, you should start with the demands of your event.
To race downhill, you must be able to:
– Pin it for 3-5 minutes. During that time you’ll either be sprinting and pumping or tucking and resting. The higher the class you race in, the less you can afford to tuck and rest.
– Execute all of the various riding skills — cornering, hopping, dropping, pumping, jumping, picking lines, etc. — smoothly, consistently and under pressure. That last item is crucial.
– Maintain a focused yet relaxed mindset, aka a flow state.
In short, you need a well balanced combination of fitness, skill and confidence. You must develop all three together; if you ignore fitness, skill or confidence (as most racers do), the weakest one will hold you back.
Work these types of efforts into your week. Real terrain is more event-specific and fun, but the rollers will make you tough and angry (in a good way).
Any old curb can teach you a lot. Naoko dials in her hops during a clinic.
– DH runs at full speed. If you want to race fast, you must train fast.
– Explosive acceleration for 10-30 seconds, as hard as you can. Rest until you feel fresh. Repeat as many times as you can until you start to slow down. This is about quality.
– Race-length intervals. Practice maintaining the hardest pace you can for 2-5 minutes (or the length of your local DH races). Rest until you feel fresh. Repeat as many times as you can without dying. This is about pain.
– Longer, easy rides for endurance and recovery. A good XC ride combines all of the above.
Basically: If you feel tired, take it easy. If you feel fresh, go hard.
The BMX track was almost unrideable on this day, but we made a fun slalom course.
Many successful racers have limited time and terrain. Mix it up. Be creative.
– Timed DH runs. The best preparation for DH racig. If you ride DH once a week, you’re lucky. Few of us get to rock the big bike that often.
– Trail riding. Probably the best overall way to build fitness, skill and confidence. If you think your trails are too easy, go faster. Kain Leonard is one of the top Mountain States Cup pros, and almost all of his training is on pavement or trails. That guy named Lopes only rides DH when he’s in Whistler. Otherwise, he’s all about XC.
– Urban. Hop over and onto things. Drop off of things. Create tricky courses where you have to hop, drop and turn. Skate parks are excellent fun. Spend half your time dialing in your basic skills. Spend the rest going as fast as you can. Matt Fisher is another great racer, and I remember him spending the winter goofing around on a 20.
– Pump and jump. Get a shovel. Get permission. Get digging.
Remember: As long as you’re having fun and learning new skills, you’re training.
Whatever you do, do it with a racer’s mindset.
Practice being aggressive yet relaxed. Notice which state of mind helps you ride best, and practice getting into that mood. You want to access that state for every race.
Ride with a purpose. Hammering to the store as fast as you can will do you more good than dirt jumping for no particular reason.
Have fun. Pin it!
Thank you for your quick and thorough response.
Definitely agree with lee pinning it on the AM bike makes you fast and you pick good lines
Great advice. I’m printing this out and re-reading it once a week.
Hey Mt Airy,
Have you been to Deep Creek?? In Western Maryland. Great DH
Also there are some places not far from you to train ride and do cross country.