The Perfect Two-Week Taper for MTB Enduro Racing, Saturday Race

Average Weekly Training Hours 04:30
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 04:30
Training Load By Week

Congratulations on deciding to to take your taper seriously! I have lots of people ask me: how do I taper for an enduro race? Enduro is all about having the skill to ride down hills fast, but you also need to be fit! So what do you do? You train a lot! But if you keep training and training and training, you'll just be tired and you won't ride well! But this is avoidable; you need to taper so that you can be fresh for race day. All the hard training is behind you; this taper will help you bring out the best in the fitness that you've gained over the last several weeks or months so that you can feel fresh and fast for your big race. Inside this plan you will find: strategically placed hard sessions to keep you fresh; strategically planned rest or recovery rides so that you can keep the blood flowing to your muscles; race practice days so that you can find the best strategy for your best performance. This is the same type of taper Seamus Powell used to win two Elite national titles! This plan is 2 weeks long. Training starts on a Sunday and the race is on a Saturday. If you need more personalisation, feel free to contact coach Matt at m.miller1@massey.ac.nz

Sample Day 7
2:00:00
Practice Race

OK, you're 2 weeks out from your BIG race! Congratulations on deciding to to take your taper seriously!

All the hard training is behind you; this taper will help you bring out the best in the fitness that you've gained over the last several weeks or months so that you can feel fresh and fast for your big race!


Today's training can be a race or--if there isn't one on--a practice race that you do yourself or with friends!

Think of your upcoming big race: what will the stages look like? What is the terrain like? How long are the transitions? The descents? What will you need to carry with you? What will you ride/wear? What will you eat/drink? Take these into account when planning you day.

To start the ride, practice a good warmup you can use for race day:
Start with a long climb at an easy to moderate pace, since we'll assume race day will look like this. Ride for 5 minutes at a moderate pace. After this, throw down one all-out effort for 6 seconds. Ride easy for 5 minutes before another all-out effort for 6 seconds. Immediately after this effort bunny hop six times as quickly in succession as you can, then turn hard left and turn hard right. Spin easy for 5 minutes, practicing wheelies and manuals to get a good feel for the bike.

Now, it's time to race! Practice your race strategy, and ride smooth. Shoot for the approximate duration and number of stages as your race (unless it's super hugely epic, then cut it in alf!).

Be safe. Be respectful.
Skids are for squids.

Sample Day 9
1:00:00
Recovery spin

Super duper easy spin on the road or bike path. Keep pedalling, but not hard. Shoot for 90-100rpm. It should feel as if your legs are just falling down with every pedal stroke.

Sample Day 10
1:00:00
Figure 8 Intervals

This is a super hard skills/interval session!

Warm up by spinning easy for 10-15 minutes, practicing wheelies, bunny hops, manuals and cutties.
Set up 2 cones (or use some natural landmarks) 20-30 meters apart. Weave through in in a figure 8 on your race bike. Try this several times, going a bit faster each time.

For each interval set, sprint hard between the cones and corner as quickly as you can around them.

Try different styles of entry and exit, e.g. stoppies into them and power out, laying the bike low, foot out, feet on, drifting, early or late apex, etc. Go all out.

Try to do 6 sets of 5 times around each cone. Alternate direction each time. You'll want to spin easy for 3-5 minutes between sets, and during this time you can practice corners and also other skills.

Cool down afterwards for at least 10 minutes by pedalling easy.

Sample Day 11
1:30:00
Easy endurance road ride

Just a nice chill road ride at a conversational pace. There is no need to go hard; just ride and keep pedalling at an easy rate at 90-100 rpm

*Note: this should feel a bit more steady than your recovery pace ride.

Sample Day 12
1:00:00
Skill session

Today is not a good day to be going hard, but good day to practice skills. Try out some things to develop your feel for the bike.

Jumps are fair game, but if you go to a pump track, take it easy.

Sample Day 13
2:00:00
Practice Race--Coasting vs Pedaling

With your first race coming up next week, it's a good chance to get your ducks in a row.
Your big race is next week!

Set up your own personal pseudo-race with 2 enduro-style race stages, preferably in terrain similar to your next goal race.

For the first time down stage 1, race as you normally would; note your time.

At stage 2, coast as much as possible. During the times you would normally be pedaling, you can look for faster lines, pump for more speed, or focus on your braking points. If there is an ascent (not flat), pedal hard to get through it, then focus on your flow as soon as you can. Aside from pedaling less, try to maintain race pace. Note your time.

Today is a great day to focus on your braking points. Since you'll be fresher without all the extra pedalling, you can get back to the basics of bike control.

Next, try these same stages again, only coast on stage 1 and pedal on stage 2. Compare your times.

Note the intensity you ride the liaisons and how well you recover. Keep these intensities in mind for the race.

Try to carry all the gear you will on race day, and note your bike setup and conditions.

Sample Day 15
1:00:00
Recovery spin

Super duper easy spin on the road or bike path. Keep pedalling, but not hard. Shoot for 90-100rpm. It should feel as if your legs are just falling down with every pedal stroke.

Matt Miller
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MTB PhD

I am a PhD researcher and Assistant Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Science at Massey University in NZ. My research focus is on MTB; on top of all the physiological analyses we do in the lab, we have also been developing and understanding the brake power meter. I draw from my many years of experience of racing mountain bikes at the elite level in the US, which included XC racing, stage races, 24 hour races and enduro.