MTB 100: Leadville 100 Race Training Plan, 4.25-20 hrs/wk (only 1 wk @20 hrs)


Gale Bernhardt

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28 Weeks

Typical Week

1 Strength, 3 Bike, 1 Other, 1 Day Off, 1 MTB

Longest Workout

5:00 hrs

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking intermediate advanced

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A multiple-time Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race finisher, Gale Bernhardt knows what it takes to be successful on the course. She has a full range of trophies including the Last Ass Over the Pass, two first in category mining pans and she's one of the few women possessing the coveted 1,000 mile buckle for successfully completing 10 Leadville 100 races. She has coached others to successful finishes - she can help you succeed.

This 28-week training plan is a performance plan written specifically for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race and includes tcx files for training on the course. Because of the difficulty of the Leadville 100 course, weekly instructions include climbing goals. If you live in a location where elevation gain is not possible, the plan gives instructions for simulating climbs as well as goal times for simulated climb training.

The plan begins with preparation training to prepare for the work to come. Training in weeks 1 through 15 include a strength training program and take winter riding conditions into consideration. Long rides are capped at 3 hours and weekly training volume stays at 9 hours or less.

Training is structured so lactate threshold power (and speed) is increased before training volume increases. This format yields a bigger aerobic engine so you can go faster at an aerobic energy cost - an adaptation critical for Leadville 100 racing.

Moving into weeks 16 through 28, weekly training volume is between 6 and 14 hours. A big training week (18-22 hours) is planned three weeks prior to race day. This design is for cyclists that plan to travel to Colorado three weeks prior to race day for altitude acclimatization. It can also be used by Colorado Front Range cyclists aiming to train on the course prior to race day. TCX files are included so you don't get lost on training rides.

The big training week can be moved to four weeks prior to race day or two weeks prior, but I would not recommend including the big week two weeks prior to race day. However, you can break the course into smaller pieces and train on those segments within two weeks of race day. I don't want you wiped out from training by the time you get to the start line.

It is impossible to include all training modifications in a single document. If you have special needs for your training, or you want to include a qualifier race in your training, consider scheduling a consulting session with Gale. You can find more information on training plan consulting on her website at

You can find additional plan information on my blog at this link.

Additional information is included with the plan in the form of a 21-page pdf file. There are tips for training and racing at altitude, race day strategies and more.


Look at the plan preview. The first week should seem very manageable before beginning the plan. If your current fitness is lacking, you will need to modify the plan. Some modification tips are included.

Within the first 15 weeks of the plan, you will find lactate threshold and some anaerobic work. The purpose of this work for an experienced cyclist is to raise lactate threshold heart rate and speed. If lactate threshold moves from 80 percent of maximum heart rate to 90 percent of maximum heart rate, you’ve increased the capacity of your aerobic engine. For example if your maximum heart rate is 185 and you can move your lactate threshold from a heart rate of 148 to 167, you’ve got a larger aerobic engine. This pays big dividends in an event that lasts some seven to twelve hours.

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Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Average Weekly Training Hours: 08:52
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 08:52
Average Weekly Breakdown

Gale Bernhardt

Gale Bernhardt Consulting Inc.

I offer one-on-one, completely personalized coaching for athletes that want customized training.

For athletes that enjoy self-coaching, but need a bit of help, I offer phone consulting services.

You can find more information about these services on my website

Back to Plan Details

Sample Day 1


Warm up aerobically, running or cycling for 10-20 minutes, then complete 2-3 sets x 15-20 repetitions (reps) of the designated exercises using a light to moderate weight.

Sample Day 2

Cruise Intervals - Z3

These intervals begin work on lactate threshold speed. On a mostly flat course or indoor trainer, complete the prescribed intervals allowing heart rate to rise into the Zone 3 over the course of the interval and no higher. After heart rate is in Zone 3, try to hold it there until the end of the interval. Begin timing the interval as soon as you begin an increased effort - do not wait to begin the clock when heart rate just reaches Zone 3. All work intervals begin when effort is increased and end when effort is decreased. Rest for the indicated time between intervals.

Sample Day 3


Warm up aerobically, running or cycling for 10-20 minutes, then complete 2-3 sets x 15-20 repetitions (reps) of the designated exercises using a light to moderate weight.

Sample Day 4

Spin step -ups

This workout is intended to work on pedaling form and neuromuscular coordination. Most of the workout is in Zones 1-2. Relaxed form is more important than driving a high heart rate. On an indoor trainer: Warm up with low resistance and a pedaling cadence of 90 rpm. After 15 to 20 minutes of warm-up, increase cadence to 100 rpm for 3 minutes, 110 rpm for 2 minutes and 120+ rpm for 1 minute. If time allows, spin easy for 5 minutes to recover and repeat a second time. If just beginning to increase pedaling speed, it may be best to cut all of the times in half, in order to maintain the recommended speeds. It is important the resistance is low, to allow a focus on speed of the feet and not force on the pedals. This workout can be done on the road, if the road is flat or slightly downhill.

Sample Day 6

Endurance - Z3

This workout is used for endurance training and the beginning of lactate threshold training. Ride a rolling course in Zones 1 to 3. Stay seated on the hills to build/maintain hip power. Ride a course and use gearing that allows work intensity into 3 zone, but not so hard you dip into Zones 4 and 5.

Sample Day 7

Endurance - rolling

This level is used for aerobic maintenance and endurance training. Heart rate should stay primarily in Zones 1 to 2. How much time is spent in each zone depends on how you feel that day. The goal of an E2 ride is not to see how much time you can spend in Zone 2. Ride on a rolling course if possible, with grades up to 4 percent. For reference, most highway off-ramps are 4-percent grade. Riding in a slightly larger gear can simulate a gentle hill, if there are no hills where you live. Remain in the saddle on the hills. If you ride with a group, inner discipline is necessary to let the group go if they want to hammer.

Sample Day 8


Warm up aerobically, running or cycling for 10-20 minutes, then complete 2-3 sets x 15-20 repetitions (reps) of the designated exercises using a light to moderate weight.

MTB 100: Leadville 100 Race Training Plan, 4.25-20 hrs/wk (only 1 wk @20 hrs)

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