Five off-road bike sessions

New skills and improved fitness will be yours next season


1. Technical hill reps


The looser, steeper and more technical the hill, the better this session will be. It should take about 1-2mins to climb, but have you right on your limit, both technically and physically.

Aim to ride the hill for 5-10 reps, and if you’re forced to dab your foot punish yourself by getting off and running carrying your bike. Roll back down to recover.

This is a great session for developing skill, balance, top-end fitness and a silky-smooth, traction-maintaining pedal stroke.

2. Green lanes

Head out for your long, steady winter rides on your cyclocross or mountain bike to explore byways and bridle-paths you’d never dare venture down on your road bike. With a bit of map work and pre-planning, ?you’ll discover hidden gems that you can then use to spice up your summer rides.

Although you can do your 4-6hr, steady distance rides off-road, don’t expect to cover anything near the distance you would on tarmac. A 20kmph average is top-end for non-technical trails, and don’t be surprised to drop to 10kmph on the really rough stuff.

3. Enduro race

Usually 6, 12 or 24 hours, the concept is simple: just ride as many laps as you can in the time allowed. If you’re certifiably insane, you’ll enter as a solo rider, while just slightly unhinged individuals sign up in pairs. But, for a great workout that’s effectively a super-long interval session, go in a team of four or mixed team of five.

4. Cyclocross race

You’re going to get filthy, you’re going to fall off and you’re going to question your sanity. However, this is probably the most accessible form of cycle sport to get yourself involved in – a fantastic hour of quality, threshold-level training and a fast track to improved bike handling skills.

There’s a full calendar of racing across the country and you can usually enter on the line. And if you don’t have a cross bike, most allow you to race on a mountain bike. For more information head to ?

5. Jumps and drops


If you’re already confident of your basic trail skills, a course focusing on jumps and drops will take you to the next level. The balance, feel for your bike and confidence you’ll develop will transfer to all of your riding. Many trail centres will have skills loops where you can practise on graded obstacles.