With 2 years of triathlon and 20 years of mountain biking in the blood, Haydn Tilley shared his training suggestions for Paluma Push. Haydn was a founding father of Rockwheelers.
There are obviously many different training plans. This is for the COMP course with 3 months training.
The Paluma Push comp course is around 70km’s. It is definitely not necessary to have completed 70km’s non-stop on your bike to be able to go the distance comfortably. My father-in-law completed the 42km course twice after only ever having done 20km’s on the road! Obviously, the more preparation you do the more comfortable you will feel and hopefully the more fun you will have. The fundamental flaw many of us make is to train/ride at the same intensity all the time. Then the hard sessions aren’t hard enough and there are no easy sessions.
If we are just training for the Push at the end of July and we are a bit unfit then let's break the training into a BASE, STRENGTH, and SPEED. Using your current time schedule as the beginning.
BASE: 4-6 Weeks
This is designed to ease the body into the training. We are working on endurance first so easy, longer rides. Depending on your current level of fitness and endurance add approximately 10% each week to your schedule. Everyone’s time limits are different so I have tried to generalize. Form is very important; as is comfort on the bike. Have a bike shop or experienced friend check your bike fit. Choose gears that allow you to maintain around 90rpm on the road. As you climb this will decrease but keep it easy in this phase. We are developing new blood supplies to the muscles as well as increasing the efficiency of the heart and lungs.
This is extremely important. Do not ride every day. Have at least 2-3 days off the bike a week. At the end of the Base phase cut the time back by 1/3 for that week, this is a rest week.
Often underutilized but especially important for stressed muscles. The legs, lower back, and shoulders all get hammered with MTB. At least 2 stretching sessions weekly.
STRENGTH: 4 Weeks
Hills are our friends! I don’t believe you need to do long hill sessions. The longest sustained climb on the comp course is no longer than 2 k’s. Twice per week do as many 5-minute hill repeats as you can, without losing form i.e. maintain revs and keep shoulders steady. Better to do 2 X 5-minute intervals well than 1 X 15 min poorly. I have found Easy Street is ideal as is the new climbing trail to the summit. Alternatively, the bitumen climb to the tank is great. Some like Castle Hill. If you’re already strong then this may be OK but I still prefer shorter intervals holding good form. No point in practicing bad habits. Each week you can add another repeat. The aim is to climb faster not longer. Keep at least one long ride as well ie. 2-3 hours.
Again I have to say how important rest is. This is when our muscles repair ready for the next exercise. Drink lots of water. Have a rest week with one long ride and one hill session.
SPEED: 4 Weeks
This is when we add the racers edge. 1 long ride per week, 1 session of MTB race simulation i.e. at race pace 2 to 3 X 15minute intervals, and some shorter rides with max sprints, 30secs to 45 secs. These can be on a slight incline or on the flats. There is no need to increase distances now. We don’t want to get so tired that we get sick or injured. As our bodies get fitter we can actually lose some resistance to infection so eat and drink well and get plenty of sleep.
1 week of tapering, no long hill sessions or long rides. Just 2 X 1-1.5 hr rides at a steady pace with some short hard efforts. We want the muscles supple and a spring in your pedaling. It’s too late to train hard. You are ready to roll.