Interview with endurance coach, Lynda Wallenfels (lwcoaching.com)

MTB Egypt talks to Coach Lynda Wallenfels about tips for endurance training for beginners

Coach Lynda, we would like to thank you for agreeing to be interviewed by MTB Egypt about training for endurance mountain bike training. Before we get into questions about training, can we start with you telling us a little bit about your own racing and background? When did you start racing mountain bikes and how did your riding evolve over the years? How and when did you start coaching?

I did my first MTB race when I was 19 years old in 1989! I quickly moved up into the pro ranks and started coaching other racers in 1994 just before I represented my country by racing on the National team at the World Cross-Country mountain bike championships. I have been coaching mountain bike racers for 25 years now and love every minute of it. It is my dream job.

As mentioned, this year MTB Egypt community members are getting more and more into long-distance and endurance off-road riding. For most riders, this will be their first foray into this type of riding. If you can give 5 very simple tips for people just starting to get into endurance off-road riding, what would they be?

  1. Practice fuelling and hydrating on long rides.
  2. Start the race with a fuel plan and follow it!
  3. Complete a training ride of at least 75% of the distance before race day
  4. Pace the first hour of the race conservatively
  5. Go as fast as you can in the last hour of the race

The type of terrain we have in Egypt can best be described as technical XC. It is a hilly desert terrain with a lot of short but often rather steep and loose climbs and descents with many natural technical features. Our “100km Challenge” is 4 laps of 25km, two-thirds of which is on limestone technical winding singletrack littered with switchbacks, sharp corners and steep climbs and descents. Total ascent close to 2000m by the end of the four laps. The lap feels longer than it actually is due to the technical aspect of riding.

The question here is: How can we best tailor our training to the kind of terrain we have here? How do we find the balance between building base aerobic fitness and sharpening trail riding skills necessary to ride this type of terrain with good handling control over long distances (Again: We don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of endurance training, as the basics will do for our purposes).

Do most of your long rides on terrain like the race course. Training on the race course is the most specific training you can do to be ready for what the race throws at you.

What is your view on running (road or trail) as the dominant form of cross-training? (many of our community members are keen runners).

A short run once per week is ok but MTB racers will get a bigger advantage from yoga and strength training in addition to bike training.

This is a follow-up question on cross-training from question 4: In your experience as a seasoned racer and coach, in what type of cross training would non-riding training time be best invested?

Strength training for the core and upper body.

Given the limited time most of us have for training, should we be focusing on volume vs intensity? The goal here is to finish a series of long distances rides after 6-8 weeks of training.

To be a successful endurance racer train with a mix of intensity and endurance.

Again, given a busy lifestyle and assuming 6 to 8 hours/week training schedule for the aspiring amateur endurance rider: how best would you recommend those 6-8 hours/week be used (to train for a 100km event in 6 to 8 weeks).

Assuming a 5-6 hour finish time for the 100km race, start with your longest ride in week 1 at 2.5 hours. Build your longest ride of the week up to 5 hours in week 6. Use the balance of the ride hours that remain in your weekly budget to train MTB skills, high intensity and threshold.

What are some simple race day strategies for a 100km ride on challenging terrain? Nutrition, pacing, etc.

Fuel and hydrate consistently on a plan. Pace conservatively in the first half of the race and push harder in the second half.

What are some simple recovery tips for endurance riding beginners?

Some good tips can be found here:https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/the-best-recovery-practices-for-endurance-athletes/

Many riders who have been mountain bikers for a few years (so not exactly new to the sport) are still hesitant to give endurance riding and racing a try. What suggestions would you give riders who would like to get into but are intimidated by long distance mountain biking?

Focus on building up long-ride endurance, and distance in training to gain confidence.

Can you tell us a bit about your coaching business and the type of programs you offer that would potentially interest new/amateur endurance riders?

We have ready-made training plans available for the 100km distance for racers focused on finishing and for racers ready to set a personal record and race for the podium. View our available training plans here https://lwcoaching.com/mtb-training-plans/category/endurance/

MTB Egypt featured Rider of the Month: October 2016

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Name: Ehab Zaki

Age: 41

???Where are you from?
Giza, Egypt

What do you do for a living?
I am planning & development for money transfer company.

When and why did you start cycling?
The first time I was on a “two-wheeler” bike I was four. After one trip down the street I came home and ask my big brother to remove the training wheels, then I rode up and down the street all day nonstop
My real off-road have started October, 2010 since that day I never stop exploring the trails.
?Road, off-road, or both?
Off-road

Tell us about your bike(s)!:
My beloved bike “Berg trail 10” (hard tail, 27.5r, fork 100m

Favorite ride(s) (road or off-road):
Any off-road ride! I enjoy them all.

??Do you practice other sports?
Tennis, trail running, any outdoor activities on the trails.

???Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents:
I haven’t had any major injuries/accidents but it could be soon ?

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself?
I love to :
Explore/ Building new trails
MTB maintenance skills
Bikebacking
Survival skills
Climbing to the mountain summits with my bike (Carrying a bike via a backpack)

MTB Egypt featured rider of the month: March 2016

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Name: Mahmoud Nour El Din.

Age: 38.

Where are you from?: Cairo.

What do you do for a living? I work in the desert tourism field. I organize walking trips, deep-desert expeditions and rallies in the desert.

When and why did you start cycling? I started MTB in October 2015. Since I have a great passion for deserts, nature, extreme sports, rally racing and outdoors activities MTB was the perfect discipline.

Road, off-road, or both? Only off-road of course…

Tell us about your bike(s)!: Specialized FSR XC 2009 – full suspension – 26 Fork: Rock Shox 120mm, SHimano XT drivetrain and brakes.

Favorite ride(s) (road or off-road): The Wadi Degla trails. I only ride off-road.

Do you practice other sports?: Yes, 4×4 rally racing.

Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents: So far I have been lucky and haven’t had any major injuries/accidents. Of course whenever I loose my concentration for a split of a second I fall and hurt myself. It’s the same case with rally racing and dirt bikes. Good safety gear and constant concentration are major factors for safer rides.

MTB Egypt featured rider of the month: December 2014

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Name: Ismail Hamdy

Age:3 7

Where are you from?: Cairo

What do you do for a living? I am a communication specialist.

When and why did you start cycling? When I was a child I had a racing bike which I used as a daily means of transportation to the club, until I had a horrible accident that left my bike destroyed. In 2010 I was back to my old means of transportation, biking to work with an intention to be more environment friendly. Then I joined MTB Egypt group for mountain biking.

Road, off-road, or both? Mainly off-road

Tell us about your bike(s)!: I started with a cheap Chinese-made bike, then I bought a Bianchi AFX 9500 and right now I am riding a Bianchi JAB 7300.

Favorite ride(s) (road or off-road): Definitely off-road. I love downhill and always seeking for adrenaline rush

Do you practice other sports?: I sometimes play Squash.

Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents: When I was a kid I had  lots of accidents but the one that destroyed my bike was collision with a car. My biggest injuries mountain biking was on the North Ridge of the Wadi, it was my second or third time mountain biking and I was scared from ridges especially when my bike fell down from a hill. I got lots of scratches but in the end I survived

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself? Whenever I am stressed, my only relief is mountain biking. I have never loved any sports as I love mountain biking.

I really hope that one day I can see Cairo like Port Said in the past where everybody is riding bikes

MTB Rider of the Month: July 2014

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Name: Tarek Shoaib

Age: Turning 29 this August

Where are you from?: Cairo, Egypt

What do you do for a living?: I am a Senior Teller at the Commercial International Bank.

When and why did you start cycling? I only cycled when I was a child and I haven’t been cycling since. When I met Marwa around a year ago, she introduced me to mountain biking. I found it difficult at first but now I enjoy it and with more practice I will enjoy it even more.

Road, off-road, or both? Now that I tried MTB, off road! But sometimes I ride on the road.

Tell us about your bike(s)!: Full suspension Giant Trance 3, 2014 with 27.5 wheels

Do you practice other sports?: I workout in the gym.

Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents: No serious injuries, but I had a few crashes on a few technical sections in the wadi.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself? I’m happy to be part of MTB Egypt.

MTB Egypt Rider of the Month: May 2014

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Name: Morsi Shehata

Age: 64

Where are you from?: Cairo

What do you do for a living? In the travel business.

When and why did you start cycling? I started cycling regularly 8 years ago. The bike is and environment friendly, simple and quiet machine. It takes you to places you can not easily go on foot, in a car or riding a motorbike. More importantly, it helps you meet great like-minded people. All cyclists (especially mountain bikers!) whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet are exceptional individuals in one way or another.

Road, off-road, or both? Both.

Tell us about your bike(s)!: I have a Santa Cruz Superlight 29er. Great do-it-all bike.

Favorite ride(s) (road or off-road): I like a combination of both on and off road riding. My favorite road loops go around the New Cairo are. Wadi Degla trails offer amazing off-road riding.

Do you practice other sports?: Long-distance running, swimming and fishing.

Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents: I had a couple of falls in Degla that were rather rough, but thankfully I only suffered with minor leg and back injuries thanks to wearing full protection gear, which I consider a must for riding off-road.

My most serious injury so far (which I am currently recovering from): On Saturday April 19 2014 (link to the ride’s Strava page), I had already finished my ride off road and was feeling pleased to finally reach the asphalt road after almost a 40 KM ride. I was going about 35 km/hr when I suddenly hit drainage steel lid which was approximately 30 cm lower than the street level. Crashed in a split second. It was all a blur, but I imagine the helmet protected my head from a fatal injuries after I saw the crack and the scratches on it. I rode approximately 3.5 km home with little pain but once the endorphins effect was gone, I felt intolerable pain in my left shoulder, which – after I was x-rayed – was due to a broken collarbone. Now in a sling and a compression bandage patiently awaiting recovery to get back on the bike.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself? I feel I should tell all young people to practice sports regularly till it becomes a habit. Never say I am too old to run or ride a bike. If we say reading enables you to live another life , sports enable you to live a third one. Even if we live shorter life, make it a healthy and enjoyable one. It is not only about physical condition but our mental health as well. If in doubt, read this. My God may bless you all.

MTB Egypt Rider of The Month: April 2014

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Name: Sherif Taymour

Age: 41

Where are you from?: Cairo, Egypt

What do you do for a living? Owner/ Manager Floors& More

When and why did you start cycling? I started cycling in October 2011. I’ve always had a passion for outdoor sports. A friend of mine introduced me to mountain biking in Wadi Degla and since then I became addicted to the sport. It truely gives me a sense of freedom. I feel like a superman when riding. It also helps a lot in clearing your mind during stressful times.

Road, off-road, or both? Mainly off road except when I don’t have the time to go to Degla; I cycle around the area where I live

Tell us about your bike(s)!: I started off with a Gitan bike that I bought from a local bike shop. Three months later I bought a Cannondale Z120 3×9. A year later I bought a Kona Abra Cadabra full suspension 3×10. 2 years later I bought a Santa Cruz Bronson 2013. 27.5 (650b) wheel size and a 1×11 cassette. Bike comes with a reverb seat and a 120-150 front adjustable kashima Fox fork CTD. To be honest I believe American bikes are the best!

Favorite ride(s) (road or off-road): Off road. My best ride ever was in Chatel, France with my fellow friends from MTBEgypt in July 2011; wish we could organize another one soon.

Do you practice other sports?: I try to maintain a good physique by doing crossfit.

Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents: My worst ever accident was on road around the area where I live. I had my running shoes tied around the handlebar!!! I hit a road bump and the shoes got stuck between the front wheel and the fork… you can imagine what happened next. Seriously I don’t even remember how I got back home that day. I must say the helmet saved my life. Rule of thumb…NEVER RIDE WITHOUT A HELMET..

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself? I just wanted to say that I truly have a passion for mountain biking and would like to see this sport spread in Egypt. We have an amazing team (MTBEgypt) many of which I consider as family. It is through this team, our love and passion that we can grow this sport in Egypt and place our country on the map of MTBing.

The Sinai MTB trip: Spring 2014 edition

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Story by Hassan Choucri

This trip was put together in a week at the most. Neal called me up:”wanna go to Sinai?” to which I answer with a casual “mmm…yes. let’s call up the others.” We do two conference calls and go through a packing list that Neal shared with us, and we agreed to meet at Sherif Taymour’s house at 8:00AM on April 9th. Sure enough the last of us (who will remain nameless) showed up at 09:15. We had 3 cars in which we had to fit 8 bikes, 7 riders and their gear. The inside of my car looked like this (note the 2 bikes on the spare tyre rack):

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Sherif’s car was also full on the inside while this is how it looked like on the outside:

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Mohamed’s car didn’t have much better luck: (Note the backpack practically sitting on Moe’s lap):

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We had an uneventful drive (save for the usual checkpoints) to the Sahara beach camp where we would be spending the night and meeting Mussallam who would be our guide for the trip. We pretty much relaxed our first night in preparation for what’s to come and checked up on our bikes.

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No amount of mosquito repellant could thwart the attacks those winged creatures launched on us. I could have sworn the mosquitoes were trying to buzz in harmony and at that point i figured that there is no point in sleeping in the hut. Slept much better on the beach.

The sun finally comes up, and we take our bikes apart so that they would be put in the cars arranged by our guide along with the rest of our gear, food, etc.… The happy bunch get in the car and spend 2 hours (give or take) to the drop off point where we would start our ride.

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Once again we put our bikes together and get ready to finally ride after an ass-numbing 4×4 drive.

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We finally start riding and 800 meters into the ride we get our first flat!!!! luckily we only had a total of 3 flats on this trip. Legend has it that on a previous trip, the guys had a total of 23 flats (editor’s note: true story). Did we feel lucky? we sure did.

Moe negotiating a technical descent.
Moe negotiating a technical descent.

The scenery we have seen on this trip is breathtaking. The riding we have done on the first day was very nice except for the occasional flat section that was garnished with soft gravel sheets. We covered about 32km in about 5 hours on the first day. we climbed 319 meters and descended 809 meters. But apart from the numbers there were endless sections of pick-a-line-through-the-rocks, very long switchback descents, and climbs to hilltops where you could feast your eyes on some crazy scenery that this no where else to seen in the world.

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We eventually reach our campsite where we rendezvous with the cars. Those who opted to sleep in tents put them up.

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We sit by the fire and our guides prepare a fantastic meal for us after which this was the inevitable result:

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Day 2 was a completely different story. it was an odyssey to say the least. It started with a 4×4 drive as well but not as long nor as painful as the one we had on the first day. But on day 2 there was more of everything: more climbs, more descents, more walking, more ass-crawling, more breathtaking scenery, bigger mountains, more colors, more valleys, way more heat, more hours on the bike. Need i say more? we rode 7.5 hours, climbed 460 meters and descended 1200 meters over a distance of 30km. A good portion of the descending we did was on foot or worse; ass-crawled.

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None of what we’ve seen in Degla (our home trails right outside Cairo) could have prepared us well for what we have seen on that second day. the terrain is much gnarlier than anything in Degla or Hof plus the “You’re in the middle of nowhere” factor. There were falls and some minor injuries. There were moments where i would ask myself:”What the fuck am I doing here?” or “Why didn’t I bring more water?”

It was a difficult day. it was the kind of ride that makes you discover parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. But once you are done with all the misery and hardship and get to the beach where you kick off your shoes, clean your injuries, drink water, and have that much-needed coffee spiked with a bit of whisky, you say to your buddies:”So when do we do this again?”

Riders: Neal Afifi, Moe Rabie, Mohamed Kandil, Sherif Taymour, Omar Sharkawy, Eissa Allam, and Hassan Choucri. Photo Credits: Moe Rabie, Omar Sharkawy, Neal Afifi, Eissa Allam, and Sherif Taymour. Words: Hassan Choucri

Egypt's Mountain Biking Community