It’s a brand new year, and you know what that means. Time to start training!
January: target 1-2 practices per week
Your focus for January is to get students back onto their bikes consistently, especially if you haven’t been riding together as a team already. Many will likely have been off their bikes in the winter months. Some of them might have been participating in other aerobic sports, others maybe not. So you’ll want to ease them back into riding and training.
You can do this effectively is by having two practices per week: one shorter practice during the week, and one longer and very mellow ride on the weekend.
Short and sweet
The shorter practice can be 1-1.5 hours depending on the fitness of your students, and should include lots of rest along with some efforts and skills work like what was included in last month’s Coach Kristi’s Corner.
Long and mellow
The very mellow ride on the weekend should start at no longer than 1.5 hours and gradually increase in length from there. Adding 15 minutes per weekend is a good increment to use. The goal for January is to start building base fitness, and we’ll work on adding speed later, once the students have worked up to longer rides.
The long mellow ride should also include breaks, and you want to make sure your students are eating and hydrating during the ride. It’s especially important to encourage hydration when riding during colder months–riders don’t always feel thirsty and think to drink when temps are low.
As you practice, watch your students closely for signs of fatigue. Remember that most accidents happen in the last fifteen minutes of practice, when everyone starts to get tired. Your goal should be to end practice before students’ fatigue gets to that point. Work them up in distance/time over the course of the season. Keep them wanting more!
And don’t forget what to bring along
This would also be a great time to review the League Trail Riding Readiness Guide so you can be sure that you, your ride leaders/volunteers and your students always have what they need during practices/trail rides.
Basics to bring:
Forms or waivers if required
Mountain bike in good working order
Appropriate bike-riding clothing (no cotton t-shirts, layers work best)
Gloves (full-fingered are best)
Hat (if below 60 degrees)
Glasses/eye protection (clear lenses are best)
Food (energy bar, gel or blocks)
Water (hydration pack or water bottle)
Basic first-aid kit
Medical alert/personal medications (inhaler, epi-pen)
ID, credit/debit card, insurance card, cash
Trail repair kit:
Tube (make sure you have the right size for your bike)
Air (portable pump or CO2 inflator)
Multi-tool (basic allen wrenches, screwdriver, chain tool)
Extra chain master link (make sure it’s the same size as your chain)
Change of clothes for post-ride (there may be mud on the trails, you might get wet/dirty)
Extra clothing for changing conditions
Cell phone (don’t rely on it!)
The shortest race distance for Middle Schoolers and Beginners will be 30-40 mins. Advanced Middle School and Intermediate categories will be 45-60min. JV will be 60-75 mins, and Varsity 75-90 mins. Keep in mind that practice times should reflect race times per skill level. So if you practice for one hour, with multiple stops you will likely have approximately 30-40mins of ride time. And if you ride 2 hours you will likely have 75-90 mins of ride time.
Coach Kristi Berg has been racing bicycles in various disciplines since 1994: Road (Cat 2), Cyclocross (Elite), BMX (expert in 20″) and MTB (professional downhill, crosscountry, and dual slalom). She enjoys coaching and sharing all she has learned through riding and racing, and is committed to giving back to her cycling community. Kristi is a Level 2 USAC Cycling Coach and owner of Berg’s Coaching Services. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.