• Fabiano Araujo

Improve your mountain bike race performance

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

We've prepared some tips for you to improve your performance regardless of your training level or goal, whether to win or to finish MTB races well. To improve your mountain bike race performance, whether in XCO (circuit) or XCM (marathon), you should know your limits, develop a race plan, make sure your equipment is in good working condition, and feed yourself properly.

While it may initially seem difficult to do so, following a few steps will help you give your best in all domains of the mountain biking racing experience. So let's get down to the tips!

Understand yourself

For those who do not have a coach, the first step is to complete a comprehensive self-evaluation. One should perform recurring fitness tests and collect data from sensors such as speed, heart rate and/or power. This data will help you calibrate your performance effort and understand your body during a workout or race. Analytical tools such as the WKO software and/or the TrainingPeaks web platform can make this process a lot faster and efficient.

Know your race

In the age of communication and information, platforms such as Strava and/or the organizers’ websites can provide valuable information about the race you will be competing on. Check the elevation gain, total distance, terrain characteristics (technical level), average slope of the longest hills, your opponents’ times and everything else that is possible. If the course is delimited in advance, try to go there to ride once or twice and get to know the actual demands of the race. Platforms such as BestBikeSplit that use biological and physical models to predict the performance could make this process even more accurate.


Usually one should accumulate 20 to 24 weeks of consistent and progressive workouts to be in good shape for a race. Use your self-evaluation data to know your pace and gradually increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts. Remember that one of the most important principles of sports training is specificity, that is, your training needs to be focused on the demands of your A races.


The recovery period is critical as your body gets stronger when you are resting and getting ready to overcome your coming workouts and competitions. This process can be either active or passive and should be monitored closely. Respect your body limits and take the time needed to recover and optimize your athletic performance.


Food and hydration are very important to optimize performance in races longer than 60 minutes. According to recent sports nutrition research, during your workouts and races the recommendation is to ingest approximately 60-90 grams of simple carbohydrates per hour and enough liquids to avoid losing more than 2% of your weight (body mass) at the beginning of the training session or competition.


Regardless of the gear you have, keep it running smoothly by completing regular mechanical checks. Quite often, athletes who could be on the podium are left behind because of broken chains or even miscalibrated tires. Reliable professionals are usually needed to keep your bike in good shape and don't forget to fit your bike to your body.

Finally, the long-awaited race has arrived!!

On the race day the most important thing is to be positive and to remember that you have done your best to be there. Keep your anxiety under control, many athletes overdo their efforts in the excitement of the first few minutes of racing and run out of power near the end. Remember your workouts, thresholds, and fitness level aligned with your prior knowledge of the race to settle into a rhythm (heart rate or power) that will take you to the end at your best time.

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