Sorry guys – The days of racing bikes on chip butties and a hangover are long gone! If you want to stomp podiums you need to be fit and strong – and you need to work with the experts to get it right.
Team Wideopenmag’s first day of 2016 came early – in November 2015. We met up in Bristol with our brand new coach, Ben Plenge from MTBStrengthFactory. He’s the expert in mountain bike fitness coaching and he’s going to make sure we’re getting it right.
Ben will be our man for fitness and strength. He’ll bring that next level of expertise to their training and raise the bar for the whole team. Better yet, Ben is a mad keen rider, racer and freelance mountain bike journalist so knows exactly what our riders need to do and how to do it.
The team met up at Ben’s Gym in South Bristol and we dived straight into warm ups and some tests to look at how flexible the guys are. We’ve got a real range of riders and it was super interesting to see the difference between Kye as a 30something BMX’er, Charlie as a teenage World Cup racer and Rich as tree-surgeon by day elite-racer-by-night.
Ben’s wife, Leanne is a physio and used her expertise to help work out rider flexibility and spot any problems with old injuries that we need to work around. A big part of Ben’s philosophy is tailoring training around what works for you as a person so spotting strengths, weaknesses and understanding what “works” was a big first step.
With the stretches and tests done it was onto the Wattbike for some brutal power testing. The Wattbike is a fancy exercise bike that measures a rider’s power – basically how hard you can drop the hammer, how long for and how quickly you can recover. Quick recovery is super important in bike racing so this one was the real test that would highlight where the guys need to put the work in. You have to give it your absolute maximum effort and drain the tank for it to be accurate … The bucket that sits ominously next to the bike is a reminder of how tough the test is!
With 4 riders totally turned inside-out with effort we had loads of data for Ben to create each of them a personalised training plan. The plans work in school commitments, their jobs, kids, holidays, Christmas and all the real-life stuff that you need to consider when trying to train as a ‘normal’ human being. Each of them now have a personalised training plan that’s built completely around them and gives them a map for how to build on their strengths and weaknesses. They’re able to follow that and know they’re doing exactly the right thing through the off-season. 2016 is a big year for all of our riders and Ben’s expertise puts them in an amazing place to start strong and fit.
Of course, we didn’t want it to be all hard work so we rounded the day off with a few laps of the local go-kart track at Team Sport in Avonmouth. You could pretend that it was about building team spirit or fostering a spirit of competition but really, we just wanted to thrash each other round the track in some souped-up lawn mowers!
Thanks to Ben and Leanne for a great day. You can read more about MTBStrengthFactory here where you can download training plans, read Ben’s free blog or sign up for your own coaching.