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The Mountain Project's 50-mile to 100k Mountain Bike Training Plan

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The Mountain Project's 50-mile to 100k Mountain Bike Training Plan


Emily Kipp

All plans by this Coach


16 Weeks

Plan Description

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Plan overview

This 50-mile to 100k mountain bike training plan considers having a net gain and loss of 10,000+ vertical feet. It is designed for the intermediate/expert rider. The plan is a balance between the working man/woman’s life and a professional rider. Aside from recovery weeks, the shortest week has a duration of 7.5-hours. The longest week has a duration of 15.5-hours. Now, that’s a lot of time for a full-time person who might have a family or other obligations to tend to. So, with this being said, it’s okay to switch days around if you need, take an additional day off, change the workout to your personal time constraints, and so forth. Remember, as long as you’re hitting miles, and more specifically vertical feet goals, you’re going to survive. Also, consistency wins over having one big day at the end of the week. Pedal whenever you can.

This plan is based on Lactate Threshold Heart Rate. Including a heart rate monitor in your training is encouraged, but not necessary. You can also go by rate of perceived exertion (RPE).

Below is a Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (HR) Zone chart. We use these Zones in almost every workout you will do, so you have a precise barometer for the effort level you are trying to achieve. These Zones describe how hard (or easy) you should be pushing yourself in various workouts. If you are new to this type of training, you can use a heart rate monitor during this training to learn and gauge where your zones are. However, if you are a more experienced athlete, or once you learn roughly where your zones are based upon perceived effort level (how you feel when in various zones), you do not need to use a heart rate monitor.

• Zone 1: Very light, easy spinning recovery effort. 40-81% of threshold heart rate (THR). Should almost feel effortless. You should be able to easily carry on a conversation at this effort level. Rate of Perceived Exertion RPE: 1-2.
• Zone 2: Aerobic effort level, light. 81-88% of THR. Still a comfortable all-day pace, with easy consistent breathing. Continuous conversation possible. This is your typical long-slow-distance endurance days. Fatigue level should feel fairly low. RPE: 3-4.
• Zone 3: Moderate-moderately hard effort level. Also, called the TEMPO zone. 89-93% of THR. Requires concentration, and continuous conversation becomes interrupted. Greater muscle fatigue than zone 2. RPE: 5-6
• Zone 4: Hard effort level. Lactate sub-threshold zone. 94-99% of THR. This is where you work hard; muscular, and mental fatigue, alongside heavy labored breathing. Your actual lactate threshold heart rate is simply 100%. RPE: 7-8
• Zone 5A: Super Threshold. 100-102% of THR RPE: 8-9
• Zone 5B: VO2 MAX. Strong to very intense muscle fatigue. Conversation not possible. 103-105% of THR. RPE: 9-10
• Zone 5C: Anaerobic Capacity. Short intervals to increase anaerobic threshold. :30-3:00 intervals. 106-110% of THR. RPE: 9-10
• Zone 6: Neuromuscular adaptation. Anything above. Max effort sprint/power! 8-12-secs RPE: 10+

For the best accuracy, and to find your starting threshold heart rate (THR) zones you can simply do a 45-60-minute all out effort time trial, while wearing a heart rate monitor. Your average heart rate for the bout of exercise IS your Threshold Heart Rate (THR). You can do this on a bike trainer, or outside. Once you have your threshold HR, you’ll be able to calculate your zones. That said, don’t worry about using a HR monitor, unless you want to. You can also simply go off of Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE); how you feel when you are cycling, based upon your breathing, leg fatigue and HR ‘feel’. If you don't use a HR monitor, or GPS watch, that is fine.

Good Luck!

Emily Kipp
The Mountain Project, LLC | | 406.303.0603

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Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
MTB x3
07:07:00 08:00:00
Bike x2
03:02:00 04:00:00
Day Off x2
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
07:07:00 08:00:00
03:02:00 04:00:00
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • GPS

All supported devices

Emily Kipp

The Mountain Project, LLC

The Mountain Project in Bozeman, Montana was built from our passion for sharing the inspiration and fulfillment that comes from exploring the wild world with athletes of all ages and fitness levels. Our programs are meant for anyone who wants to climb higher, run stronger, ski longer, push harder, and go further—even if you’ve never set foot in a gym before. Whatever your goals, our mission is to get you to the summit that previously seemed out of reach.

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This plan is protected by our Refund Policy and may, with the author's approval, be exchanged for a plan of equal value from the same author.

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