Cross Country XCO

Cross Country XCO

Cross Country XCO

Training for road and training for mountain bike events are uniquely different and on the other hand there is no doubt they can also greatly complement each other. However to become a successful cross country rider, you will need to train specifically for the repeated power outputs typical of the terrain such short steep climbs, tight switchbacks, plus rocks, logs, ruts, steep descents and other obstacles. All contribute to the highly variable output power demands of mountain bike racing and riding.

PCS has a strong understanding of how these principles should be developed for cross country events incorporating them into our Cross Country specific Mountain Bike training programs to improve your overall performance in these fast and furious events.  

Cross Country Mountain Bikers have the highest levels of participation both recreationally and competitively to that of its counterpart disciplines. Generally speaking this is because access to good venues close to major capital cities are being purpose built and is fast becoming a popular sport. Cross Country cycling became an Olympic sport in 1996 and to this day is still the only form of mountain biking practiced at the Olympics.  Mountain Biking was introduced into the Commonwealth Games in 2002 at Manchester, England.

PCS Fast Fact: Lisa Mathison came 10th in the Cross Country Mountain Bike Race at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 while being coached by PCS Head Coach Donna Dall.

Cross Country Mountain Bike Racing


Given the distinct physiological demands imposed by cross country and downhill racing, most elite level mountain bikers tend to specialise in just one discipline. In cross-country races, athletes complete several laps of a 5-9 km circuit, which will include a significant amount of hill climbing and technical descents.  Race durations range from 90-120 minutes right up 24 hours.  Elite level cross country riders require a large aerobic capacity and the ability to sustain a high percentage of this for a prolonged period of time.

Cross country races traditionally feature a mass start as shown in the photo below. Globally, XC racing is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Cross Country Training with PCS

matty-dallRegardless of the specialist discipline you choose, the training year will typically consist of a general preparation, specific preparation and a competition phase and off-season, with the length of each phase dependent on the competitive schedule of individual athletes.  For cross country mountain bikers, the focus of the pre-season is to develop a large endurance base, which they will aim to maintain during the season.  This will be achieved through a combination of cross-country and road riding.   Regardless of the discipline, all riders need to develop the technical skills to be able to control and stabilise their bikes on the various off-road terrains they encounter and a certain percentage of the training time will be specifically on skill development.


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