How To Fend Off Fatigue
Mountain Bike Rider|October 2021
Along with general fitness, careful forethought and planning will let you ride for longer than ever, says Dr Shaun Phillips
Dr Shaun Phillips

Last month we looked at just how complex fatigue is, and how it’s brought on by a host of interrelated factors including the individual rider, the environment, and the specific demands of the activity. Those factors change from ride to ride, but we can still use them to develop a roadmap to stave off fatigue for as long as possible.

Before we look at this roadmap though, it’s useful to look at the research into the physical determinants of successful mountain biking performance. However, please remember that fatigue should be considered an individual thing, so ensure you apply research findings to yourself with caution.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

Research into mountain biking has increased rapidly in the last 10 years or so, perhaps in line with the increased popularity of our sport. Some of this research has focused on understanding the physical factors that contribute the most to mountain biking performance. Most of this work has been done on XC riders, but other disciplines are starting to receive more attention. For elite level XC riders, the power output and oxygen consumption (VO2) attainable at the respiratory compensation point (RCP; also termed anaerobic threshold, although they’re not quite the same thing) was the biggest performance determinant (1). In a slightly lower standard of competitive peak power output (PPO) relative to body mass (e.g. watts per kilo) was the biggest determinant (2). Recent research in Olympic XC riders found that maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) relative to body mass, fatigue profile during a 30-second sprint, and average and PPO during a repeated sprint test together explained 98 per cent of the difference in performance between riders.

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