While downing a beer is the most fun way to hydrate mid ride, it’s (unfortunately) not the best method to ensuring podium success at your next enduro race. To learn more about what it takes to become a faster and more well rounded rider, we called on three experts. Pro racer Jerome Clementz won the inaugural Enduro World Series title and is always a top-step contender. Nutrition expert Dr. Stacy Sims is the co-founder of Osmo Nutrition and has worked for the Garmin/Slipstream pro cycling team, the U.S. Olympic team, and Team Leopard-Trek among others. James Wilson, better known as Bike James, creates popular training programs for cyclist and has also worked with pro racer Aaron Gwin.
Mtbr: Coming from a downhill or XC background, how do you modify your training regimen for enduro?
The Champ (Jerome Clementz): I come from a downhill background, but at that time I was a junior, so I could eat what I want. I think for enduro the physical part is more involved so you have to take care to perform. When I start training specific for enduro after winter, I fix a weight goal to aim for before starting the season. Normally my race weight is 137 pounds. I never do a diet, but I eat cleverly. A breakfast of porridge or cereals because it’s easy to digest and you can go riding fast after eating. And I forget the Nutella in that period even though it’s my favorite. After a ride it’s a lunch with carbohydrate, meat or fish, and vegetables. I don’t take desert because I prefer to wait until 4 o’clock when I usually enjoy French bread and pieces of chocolate. At diner I eat a normal meal but I don’t serve myself twice.
The Nutritionist (Stacy Sims): The change up to having endurance plus pure strength with increased mass for bombing down hills can be a tricky one. Focusing on power moves with isometric strength should become a mainstay. Because power and explosive moves coupled with the pure strength required to descend technical trails on the edge, plus the need to climb, plus the stage racing aspect, necessitates increasing protein intake to 1.6-1.8g/kg per day. That will ensure muscle cell synthesis/recovery and keep body fat in check. The combination of long XC riding for fitness and DH riding for technical descending skill are both unique in their own right. Aerobic fitness and strength for XC riding, pure isometric strength for DH. Fuel well for the XC rides (3.5-4 food calories per kg per hour; hydration is 10-12ml/kg per hour) and recover from all training sessions with protein, carbs, and some fat.
The Coach (James Wilson): From what I’ve seen so far it is easier for the DH riders to make the transition than XC riders for one simple reason – enduro stages are actually slower than what the DH riders are used to while they are faster than what the XC riders are used to. It is always easier to learn how to sustain your speed for longer than it is to learn how to go faster in the first place.
This means that for the DH rider it is a matter of improving their endurance, but more specifically their ability to sustain their pace for longer. They need to work to maintain their strength and power, while using smart training rides and cardio training to improve their endurance. For the XC rider they need to get stronger and more powerful. Most of them simply need to learn how to ride faster and more aggressively in the first place. This means backing off some of the endurance training and adding more strength training, short intense rides, and skills training. Don’t worry about winning the weekend until you can go fast enough to contend for a single stage.