Mountain Biking for Ski Training?
See the first article
in this mini-series for intentions and goals for these articles.
Mountain Biking may be the most Cross-Country ski-like (and common) summer sport
in terms of the demands on the cardiovascular system – work hard going
uphill, rest (relatively) coming down, changing gears (ala ski techniques) on
undulating sections. If we timed the World’s best mountain bike racers
biking the Soldier Hollow Olympic courses, their times would probably be close
to the times recorded during the 2002 Olympic Games. The average speed for the
Men’s Olympic CC events were between 26 – 32 km/hour (about 16 –
20 miles/hour) depending on the distance.
Mentally the two sports are also alike. The athlete must constantly make choices
of techniques and cadence (gears), adjust for obstacles on the trail, maneuver
in groups (mass-start), choose the best line (both up and down) and think ahead
in terms of race or course strategy.
We could therefore assume that Mountain Biking would be a great training method
for Cross-Country skiers. It is, but in moderation. If used correctly as part
of an overall training plan, Mountain Biking should enhance the cardiovascular
capacity, leg strength and mental toughness of a Cross-Country skier.
As part of the overall training plan, the athlete must always look at the overall
load of the training. The overall load is the combination of training volume
and training intensity. Mountain Biking on trails is often "intense"
or hard training. Who does ever goes "easy distance" biking on trails,
especially in a group? We always seem to challenge the group, and ourselves.
Many mountain bike racers I know take their mountain bike more often on the
paved roads than onto the trails – to do "easy distance" days.
Several years ago when I was using biking heavily in my training for Olympic
Games, I remember wondering if sitting or standing when going uphill would favor
certain skiing muscles. I also remember an old coach back in Norway recommending
standing up off the bike seat to train legs for classical technique movements,
but to sit in the seat and "burn the legs" to strengthen the "skating
The nice thing training for Cross-Country skiing is the natural cross training
we must do. Our quadrapedal sport requires training of all limbs and the whole
body using different methods. However, it is the overall training plan that
matters – the right mix of intensity, methods, volume and strength.
if you are looking for a personal coach to help you with training planning and
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