'Am I fit enough?'
Many of our guests ask this question, usually over a glass of wine at the farmhouse, the evening before the first day's riding.
Pure Mountains in based the high mountains of the The Sierra Nevada. It's a huge mountain range which can challenge even the strongest of riders.
But, we are a mountain bike holiday company and the idea is that you ride as hard as you want to. We adjust each day's rides to suit your needs and the ever-present 4 x 4 back-up is there to encourage confidence and peace of mind.
If, however, you would like to put in a little preparation for your mountain bike holiday then there are a number of things you can do.
- There is no real substitute for riding your bike. All forms of exercise can help and provide variety but if you want to ride your bike quickly over a long distance then you need to ride your bike quickly over a long distance.
- Ride on the road too. Simply put, an hour spent on tarmac will involve more pedalling than an hour off-road and the muscles benefit from the repetition. All committed mountain bikers ride a road bike, too.
- Core excercises help protect you from fatigue and injuries. Sit ups, press ups and the like all stabilise and strengthen the areas around which the biking specific muscle groups work. Most serious cyclists will spend the off season (November to February) concentrating on these areas.
- It's a brutal truth, but in cycling the lighter you are the faster you will ride. Obviously there are limits, but most of us never get anywhere near them.
- Don't forget to stretch. Warm up slowly, exercise and then stretch at the end. A few minutes spent on the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps (thighs) and gluteus (bottom) will really help with recovery and injury prevention.
- Setting a goal is incredibly useful for motivation and success, but it must be realistic. Being fit and fast all year is not a realistic or measurable goal. However, to ride your local circuit in your best time or to lose a kilo or so before a set date is.
- Lots of people use heart rate monitors (HRMs) and they are extremely beneficial. Fundamentally, they tell you how hard you are working and what you need to be doing to achieve specific goals.
- Buy lots of shiny bike kit. Your domestic financial controller may object, but there is nothing like a bit of new bling to encourage you out on the trail.
For those of you who want to cross over to the dark side, lose your social life, weigh your food and develop that thousand yard stare; The Mountain Biker's Training Bible by Joe Friel (Velo Press) is the further reading for you.