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This “Tool for MTB Progress”, is a simple and quick guide to
help you improve your riding.

  • Are you paying attention?
  • Are you getting stronger, faster, more skilled, more confident on the trail?
  • Why? Or Why not?
  • What went well on the trail today?
  • What didn’t go well? Why?
  • What did you learn today that will help you improve?
  • What is your plan of action?

IF you missed last week’s article on Assessing your 2019 season and planning your 2020 season CLICK HERE!

It is amazing to me how much time and money we invest in Mountain Biking and how little attention we pay to our performance and what may have positive and what may have negative effects on our performance.

Since I stopped racing professionally 10 years ago, I spend much less time analyzing my riding and the things that affect my riding. With no real plan or goal, I also don’t do my drills near as much as I used to and it shows in my less than stellar riding these days.

Ever wonder: “why do I feel so strong today? I’m climbing like a gazelle!” Conversely: “Wow, I feel so sluggish, what is going on?”

There are few sports with as many ups and downs as Mountain Biking and it can seem like an emotional rollercoaster. One day you are on top of the world the next day you are stuck at the bottom of a seemingly massive mountain.

There are so many free and nearly free tools available to help us pay attention, analyze and plan. Maybe we should start taking advantage of them! It only takes a few minutes after each ride to analyze the ride and analyze what affected the level of your performance.

That simple, inexpensive and important MTB Tool is a Riding Journal. In less than five minutes a day, you can learn a lot about yourself and your riding.

For those that enjoy automation, Strava is tough to beat! Strava does a lot of your journaling for you. It tracks your mileage, vertical feet climbed, ride time and avg speed. Furthermore, it asks you for your perceived effort and compares today’s ride with previous rides on the same trails.

Strava data alone is a good start. Add in how you slept (number of hours and quality on a scale of 1-5), how you felt upon waking (rested, refreshed, tired, fatigued, etc) and what and when you ate between this ride and your previous ride and you have a lot of information to go on.

If you are into stats (which I think most of us are, it is nice to see progress!), Strava is an amazing tool! You can also link it to your heart rate monitor and/or your power meter for real scientific training. In addition, it is really motivating as we all want to best or last effort!

Strava isn’t foolproof though, yesterday it had me riding through walls, shopping centers, and homes instead of on the trails I actually rode, but it does allow you to manually update your ride in cases like this.

What are you looking for is patterns to learn from and make changes to your riding/training. Such as, the last three times I rode after two days of no exercise I felt sluggish. I’m going to experiment with active recovery instead of just resting.

You are looking for negative and positive readings such as: “Wow, my normal resting heart rate when I wake up is 40 bpm, today it’s 46! With such an elevated resting heart rate I should probably take it easy today and make sure I eat well and get a good night’s sleep tonight.”

Include skills tracking too, such as, “Cool, my cornering is getting so much better! I’m finishing my braking to cut speed in a straight line before the corner and picking lines that are giving more exit speed, but I am sliding more than I would like. Next ride I will do some cornering body position drills before the ride so I start producing more traction.”

In conclusion, using a ride/training journal is a great Tool for MTB progress! 

Have you used a different app or tool? Have you keep a riding journal and found it beneficial?

Having so much of this done by Strava is really helpful compared to writing it all down manually. However, if you would like to do this without apps and smartphones here is a list of things you may want to track. You certainly don’t have to track everything listed below. Take the pieces you feel will help you reach your riding goals.

Fitness Tracking Tool.

Fitness tracking:

  1. Morning resting heart
  2. Morning
    • Sleep, hours slept
    • quality of sleep (1 to 5, 1 terrible sleep, 5 fantastic sleep)
  3. Morning mood (1 to 5, 1 terrible mood, 5 fantastic mood)
  4. Morning stress level (1 to 5, 1really stressed, 5 what? me worry?)
  5. Perceived energy level (1 to 5, 1 wiped out, 5 I can take on the world!)
  6. What you eat and when.
  7. Ride stats.
    • Mileage
    • Ride duration
    • Vertical feet
    • Trail conditions (30 miles on a rough trail in Moab is harder than 60 miles on a smooth trail in Fruita!)
    • How you felt on the ride
    • Heart rate
    • Power output
  8. Workout stats
    • Squat: weight, reps, sets
    • Core workout
    • etc

There is so much more to train and track regarding skills!

Stay tuned for my Hierarchy of Skills article that will explain which skills are the most important to work on.
Why spend your time working a skill that might improve your riding by 1% when practicing another skill may improve your riding by 20-30%.

Please share this article with anyone you think may benefit and feel free to call or e-mail with any questions.

Cheers
Gene