Practices are the key preparation for competing in the fall races. Hutch Tigers Cycling works on making mountain biking as fun as possible without the athletes realizing they are learning to master the three main aspects of mountain bike racing...fitness, strength and technique.
Early in the season we often focus on getting saddle time with progressively longer rides as to build up fitness. Kids often are amazed how far they've ridden at the end of a practice. They often beam with pride when explaining that fact to their parents!! Fitness comes from riding as much as possible and we ramp up the level of fitness rides as the season goes along. We try to balance distance rides with trail riding as trail riding is so much more fun for the athletes, especially since they will be racing on trails and not long boring dirt roads.
We work on strength training later in the season as we work on sprints to aid in making sure we are the first into the single track at the top of hills or we have the power to pass when we need to. We also spend time climbing hills in preparation for the hills that are ever present in many races.
Finally we spend an appreciably amount of time working on bike handling skills. Although being the fittest athlete tends to trump most other aspects, a less fit individual can make up time by using sound technique. We practicing cornering, slalom courses, downhill techniques, climbing positioning, race starts, water bottle handoffs, etc..... Basically if the athlete will see it in a race we work on preparing them for the situation so they can be confident that "They got this!!" when the race begins.