- Quite thorough, includes most mountain disciplines (DH, 4X, DS, XC)
- Not too wordy or too detailed in the science of training
- Great read to get familiarized with training
- $17.20 on amazon.com, but listed at $19.95 on back cover
Before I get into my thoughts on this book, I want to give you all a quick rundown on my own riding and racing background, and from where I'll be pulling my frame of references. I've been mountain biking for about 17-years, and about 6 of those were very heavy in road training and racing. I primarily tried my luck in crits, time trials, and duathlons (one triathlon; I'm definitely NOT a swimmer). I had an amazing coach for about 3-years, and then just built upon what I had learned from him. My mountain racing resume covers downhill, super-D, cross-country, and short-track; I also suffered through about 3 seasons of cyclo-cross as well (such a fun sport). At this point I'm just riding for fun, but am eager to get back on the start line.
First things first, this is a 250-page book containing a great deal of information, so I'm not going to make this a long read, or an in-depth summary, there is simply too much information to cover. To start, the author is a sport scientist at the Institute of Outdoor Sports and Environmental Science, Cycling Department, at the German Sport University Cologne. He's been active on pedal-driven wheels since 1985, competes (still), and coaches as well; basically, he's a cycling mass of knowledge and experience. This is a good thing but of course the key to a book like this is whether he is able to convey all that knowledge into usable bits for the average reader. Fortunately he has laid out the book very well, and starts out with a "how to use this book" introduction as well as a background of the sport of mountain biking itself. After that he goes into the physiology and anatomy of the body and how it's affected by exercise/biking. There are some very interesting points made in this chapter that I found fascinating. For instance, he details what happens, where it happens, and when it happens after eating a basic bar. The single longest chapter is the 3rd, which covers training: Everything from heart rate training, cross training, testing, periodization, training camps, power meters, performance categories, and even training errors. I found this last one particularly interesting because I was reminded of a few things that I am guilty of and will definitely keep in mind when it comes time to ramp up my fitness. The good doctor also mentions a method of cross-training that I didn't think of which is fin-swimming as a method of strength training. Another mention he makes is laying out a solid circuit directed at mountain bike strength training (pushups, crunches, squats, calf-raises, etc).
One part of training that I was slow to learn was nutrition while riding, and when to refuel myself. In the book, he lays out what goes on while riding and how your body burns its fuel. He suggests some basic timelines and general food options for mid-race refueling. If you're just getting started on a mountain bike, a couple of chapters I highly suggest are chapters 8 and 9; Technique Training, and Psychological Training, respectively. I started riding with a buddy who's fairly new to mountain biking, and one thing I told him to work on is his on-bike balance, track-standing. Someone suggested that to me years ago and in college I would watch the Disorder DH videos while learning to track-stand; once I got good at it, my technical skills went through the roof. That then automatically connected to the psychological side of riding by giving me more confidence in my skills. He then closes out the book with a short chapter talking about mtb racing for beginners.
All in all, if you're looking for training ideas and knowledge in the form of a book, this is a very solid choice. I already have my new riding buddy wanting to get his dirty mitts on my copy, and of course I'll spread the wealth. I do plan to re-read parts of it in a while to refresh my memory and make sure I'm putting his suggestions into practice. Like I said, I will most likely use it when I ramp up my efforts to jump in a race or two as this isn't a book that has to be read and absorbed cover to cover so much as it can act as a reference tool for whatever it is you happen to be trying to accomplish at a given time. Even if you're a seasoned rider/racer, there's still a ton of knowledge and experience that you're likely lacking, sometimes it takes a book like this to let you know how much you don't actually know, you know? This is a serious training resource for riders of all skill levels and something that belongs on the bookshelf of just about any athlete looking to gain an edge.