Interview with endurance coach, Lynda Wallenfels (

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:

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