Saddle Up: Mountain Bike your way to better turns next season. - Ski Mag

Saddle Up: Mountain Bike your way to better turns next season.

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Serious skiing requires serious training – all year round. But come summer, if you don't keep your workouts entertaining, you'll be making excuses rather than trips to the gym. So take your cue from former World Extreme Skiing champion Chris Davenport and ski-film star Jeremy Nobis, and pedal your way to powerful turns.

From May to September, Davenport spends several hours every day biking on roads and trails near his Aspen home. "It builds a great aerobic base for ski-specific dryland training in the fall," says Davenport, who, at the suggestion of his junior race coach, took up road biking at age 14 for a fitness boost. He made it to the cycling junior nationals before eventually choosing competitive skiing over biking.

Utah-based Nobis also rides two to three times a week in the off-season, usually on trails. "Mountain biking helps you adapt better when you get back on skis," says Nobis, a two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race. "Instead of taking several weeks to get back up to speed, it may only take one."

Biking—whether on dirt or pavement—will condition your legs and lungs, burn big calories and give you a legitimate reason to forgo the gym. Cycling on roads is a better choice for precision workouts designed to raise your aerobic and anaerobic endurance (think longer runs, less quad burn), while mountain biking enhances ski-crossover skills such as balance, agility and terrain recognition. "Mountain biking helps you mentally," Nobis says. "You have to look ahead, pick your line and maneuver quickly. Skiing's all about that, so it's good training."

Both Davenport and Nobis, however, caution against relying on biking alone to carry you until the lifts rev up again. "Skiing requires very specific training," Davenport says. "Biking gives you a great fitness base so you can train harder. But come October, you should put the bike away and focus on strength training and plyometrics." In the meantime, here are six great biking workouts—three road and three mountain—that will smooth your transition back to the slopes next winter.

ON THE ROAD
GET FIT: AEROBIC CONDITIONING
Terrain: Flat or rolling
The Drill: Ride for 30 to 90 minutes at a comfortable pace (55 to 70 percent of your maximum effort). You should feel your heart rate pick up, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation. Warm up and cool down for five to 15 minutes on either end of the workout; the longer you ride, the longer your warm-up and cool-down should be.
How Often: Three to five times per week early in the off-season; one or two times per week later in the summer, when you're mixing in tougher workouts.
How It Helps: Moderate riding builds a solid fitness base, which you'll need for other workouts that have more direct crossover to the slopes.
Expert's Tip: "You don't need to go longer than 90 minutes," says Raul Guisado, assistant and conditioning coach for World Cup skier Kristina Koznick and a former strength and conditioning coach for the U.S. Women's Ski Team. He's also designed training programs for collegiate and pro cyclists, and is the author of Cross-Training for Endurance Athletes. "It helps to be aerobically fit, but skiers don't need the endurance of an endurance athlete. If you spend too much time on aerobic conditioning, your strength, power and agility could suffer."

GO LONGER: AEROBIC INTERVALS
Terrain: Flat to moderate uphill
The Drill: Don't let the word "interval" scare you off: This workout isn't as intense as its storied name implies. After a 10-minute warm-up, ride for two minutes at about 85 percent of your maximum effort, or at the point just before "the burn" sets in. Then ride at an easy pace for four minutes. Repeat five times, for a total of 30 minutes of interval riding. Cool down by riding at an easy pace for 10 minus. As your fitness improves, there are three ways to make the workout tougher: 1. Do more intervals, up to a total of 60 minutes. 2. Do longer intervals, up to five minutes of hard riding. 3. Decrease recovery time between intervals, down to half the length of the interval.
How Often: Once or twice per week.
How It Helps: Aerobic intervals raise your anaerobic threshold. Technically, that means more oxygen is delivered to your muscles and lactic acid buildup is delayed. In ski-speak it means you'll be able to ski longer before quad burn sends you beelining to the bar.
Expert's Tip: You should be able to do at least a 60-minute aerobic conditioning ride (see above) before you attempt this workout.

GO STRONGER: ANAEROBIC INTERVALS
Terrain: Gradual to moderate uphill
The Drill: After a 15-minute warm-up, stand on the pedals and ride as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Your legs and lungs should be burning. Then rest for at least 90 seconds, or until you're breathing fairly easily again. Repeat four more times for a total of five intervals. Allow more rest between later intervals if you feel fatigued. Cool down with an easy 15-minute ride. As you improve, you can gradually boost your hard efforts up to 90 seconds, but only if you can maintain the same speed for the entire time. You can also slightly decrease your rest time, but it should always be at least double the time of your intense effort. If you're dragging, you won't be raising your lactate tolerance (see How It Helps)—you'll just be wearing yourself out.
How Often: Once a week, but not until you can ride comfortably for 60 minutes and have done at least three weeks worth of aerobic intervals (see above).
How It Helps: While aerobic intervals help you ski longer before your legs start to burn, anaerobic intervals enable you to keep going even after your quads are on fire. "When you're skiing something steep, you need to make big angles with your body and resist major forces," Guisado says. "Your legs can start to burn pretty quickly. The environment in your muscles becomes so acidic that they can't contract the way you need them to. But anaerobic intervals will increase your lactate tolerance, which means you can resist the forces for longer, even after lactic acid has built up."
Expert's Tip: Rest, rest, rest. Recovery between and after your hard efforts is just as important as the intervals themselves. "This is strenuous stuff," Guisado says. "It's hard to get your intensity high enough to make a difference. If you're too tired before you start the interval, you won't be able to do it right." Make sure your rest time is at least double or triple the length of the interval, and do this workout only once a week. For two days afterward, either rest completely or limit yourself to light activity. A snack with both carbohydrates and protein 30 minutes and again two hours after the intervals will help your muscles recover and make your workout more effective.

ON THE TRAIL
BUILD YOUR LEGS: STOMP REPEATS
Terrain:Flat or gradual uphill on a fairly smooth trail
The Drill: After a 15-minute warm-up, shift into a high gear so it's hard to turn the pedals. Do 12 "stomps," or pedal revolutions (each foot should come down 12 times), then ride at an easy pace for four minutes to recover. Repeat nine times for a total of 10 sets. As you progress, you can do up to 15 sets, but don't overdo it or you may stress your joints.
How Often: Once or twice per week.
How It Helps: "Stomp-repeats require a lot of force," says Joe Friel, author of The Mountain Biker's Training Bible. That force strengthens your legs and prepares them for ski-specific power-building exercises come fall.
Expert's Tip: Stay seated to better target your leg muscles, Friel suggests.

FIND YOUR LINE: DOWNHILL REPEATS
Terrain: About 50 to 100 yards of technical downhill
The Drill: Pause at the top of the hill and scan the trail below. Choose a route and head down the hill, keeping your eyes focused about five feet ahead of your front wheel. When you get to the bottom, ride or walk your bike back up, and repeat as many times as you can find new lines.
How Often: Twice a week.
How It Helps: "You can often tell what level skiers are by how they approach terrain," Guisado says. "More advanced skiers look ahead and decide what to do instead of just reacting to whatever the terrain throws at them." Downhill-repeats train you to keep your head up and your eyes focused on where you want to go.
Expert's Tip: Your eyes are your rudder: Wherever they look, your skis or bike will follow. Consequently, glue your eyes to the line you want to take, not to the rock pile you'd like to avoid.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER: CROSS-COUNTRY TREK
Terrain: A rolling, technical trail
The Drill: Warm up on flats for 10 minutes, then ride for 30 to 60 minutes. Ride hard uphill. Work on technique on the downhills, and recover on flatter terrain.
How Often: Two to three times per week.
How It Helps: Cross-country rides boost your general fitness level, improve your athleticism and keep you more entertained than slogging through long miles on the road. Plus, they build ski-specific skills. Technical downhills teach you to shift your weight to stay upright—a vital skill for any skier. To balance on the downhills you need to stand on the pedals, which, as in skiing, forces you to absorb shocks with your quads. Uphill efforts also strengthen your quads, and both uphill and downhill riding refine your balance and ability to choose a line.
Expert's Tip: Go to dirtworld.com or trailsource.com to find mountain bike trails in your area.

PEDAL POINTERSFor efficient workouts, follow these technique tips:
* As in skiing, keep your upper body still when you're pedaling. Don't bob up and down.
* Make smooth circles with your feet, pulling on the upstroke and pushing on the downstroke.
* When descending on a mountain bike, shift your weight back—even behind the seat for very steep trails.
* For road workouts, your revolutions per minute (rpm) should stay between 90and 110, regardless of the terrain, Guisado suggests. "If you drop below 90, you spend too much time training your slow-twitch muscle fibers, which aren't as important for skiers," he explains. "But if you go over 110, your technique usually suffers. You get a lot of bouncing."

YOUR LINE: DOWNHILL REPEATS
Terrain: About 50 to 100 yards of technical downhill
The Drill: Pause at the top of the hill and scan the trail below. Choose a route and head down the hill, keeping your eyes focused about five feet ahead of your front wheel. When you get to the bottom, ride or walk your bike back up, and repeat as many times as you can find new lines.
How Often: Twice a week.
How It Helps: "You can often tell what level skiers are by how they approach terrain," Guisado says. "More advanced skiers look ahead and decide what to do instead of just reacting to whatever the terrain throws at them." Downhill-repeats train you to keep your head up and your eyes focused on where you want to go.
Expert's Tip: Your eyes are your rudder: Wherever they look, your skis or bike will follow. Consequently, glue your eyes to the line you want to take, not to the rock pile you'd like to avoid.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER: CROSS-COUNTRY TREK
Terrain: A rolling, technical trail
The Drill: Warm up on flats for 10 minutes, then ride for 30 to 60 minutes. Ride hard uphill. Work on technique on the downhills, and recover on flatter terrain.
How Often: Two to three times per week.
How It Helps: Cross-country rides boost your general fitness level, improve your athleticism and keep you more entertained than slogging through long miles on the road. Plus, they build ski-specific skills. Technical downhills teach you to shift your weight to stay upright—a vital skill for any skier. To balance on the downhills you need to stand on the pedals, which, as in skiing, forces you to absorb shocks with your quads. Uphill efforts also strengthen your quads, and both uphill and downhill riding refine your balance and ability to choose a line.
Expert's Tip: Go to dirtworld.com or trailsource.com to find mountain bike trails in your area.

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