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Start your MTB journey with tips from Tony Longo

Start your MTB journey with tips from Tony Longo

Riding a mountain bike on uneven tracks; sport in close contact with nature: this is what impels many people to get into the discipline, even later in life.

After all, cycling has so many benefits for both mental and physical health. With mountain biking, there are the added physical and mental advantages of spending time among forests, nature trails, mountains and lakes. In short, it's a real panacea, even for amateurs just starting out in cycling. 

However, you need serious fitness and constant training to avoid injuries and accidents, and to to be ready to take part in your first races.

If you're keen to have your first MTB adventure, you're about to read the advice of Tony Longo for beginners coming to the sport.

Tony was an MTB Cross Country and Marathon champion, the winner of Italian and world titles. Today he's the coach at Team Soudal Lee Cougan: his squad includes mountain bike superstar Leonardo Paez.

What's the best age to start mountain biking?

Tony Longo: “The best time for developing coordination is between the ages of 7 and 12, and I think that's the right time to learn and improve riding technique. Kids should be having fun playing on their bikes, they're interacting and spending time in nature".

But can you start as an adult?

Tony Longo: “Of course! Unlike other sports that require specific technical abilities, MTB can be practised by anyone. The pedalling movement is extremely simple; I recommend just a little training and consistency, as this is a resistance sport. Practise is also needed if you want to improve technical performance: the more you try, the more you improve".

What kind of physical preparation is needed for MTB?

Tony Longo: “Physical training varies depending on the MTB speciality you're going for. Thinking about the Marathon, for example, it's a long-distance resistance discipline, where the aerobic system is mainly used. So it's important to build up a certain amount of training on the bike to improve the metabolism and also technical skills. Physical preparation might also include strength and weights training".

What does a training session look like?

Tony Longo: “It depends on the season, the aim of the session and the individual athlete. It might be a gentle 1.5-hour recovery session, 5 hours of training or a more intensive session. Every type of session is designed to achieve certain physiological results, important to improve performance". 

For example, how does a champion like Leonardo Paez prepare for a race? 

Tony Longo: “His season can be divided into three periods: preparation, races and transition. 

The season consists of a huge amount of training, alternating with days of competition. So it's essential that the schedule balances training and recovery. 

To give an idea, this year Leonardo has trained for over 1,000 hours, 80% at low intensity and 20% high intensity. 

Alongside his innate genetic gifts, Leonardo is exceptionally motivated, passionate and determined in everything he does. Preparation is not just training on the bike and with weights; it also involves diet, sleep and mechanical aspects. The aim is to look after all the details and try to improve them".

What would be your advice to a beginner in the discipline, unsure how to start cycling on MTB tracks?

Tony Longo: “My advice is to start slowly, and stick at it if you want to improve. But most of all, have fun!"


Do you have everything you need to get started in MTB? Download our checklist now and discover the must-have accessories.

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