By: Sam Watson
Part of what I like about guiding mountain biking trips for Holiday is the feeling of camaraderie that comes from everyone accomplishing the ride together. From riders finishing their first loop around the White Rim, to seasoned Holiday clients making their long-anticipated return to the Maze Overlook camp, the sensation that comes from accessing rugged and remote places on bikes is ineffable. The guides make overnight bike camping as easy and comfortable as possible, but there is an element of demand and responsibility for each guest. This is part of the appeal, as it makes that first drink and round of hors d’oeuvres at camp well-earned and deserved. With that being said, a bit of preparation will go a long way in making the trip that much more enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you get ready for an amazing ride with Holiday.
Consistency is Key
For first-time riders, spending time on a bike before your trip is a must. While the guides ensure that plenty of riding time is budgeted every day, you can still expect to spend at least 4-5 hours riding (with breaks, don’t worry, it’s not a time trial). Even an hour per week on your bike for several weeks leading up to the trip will go a long way, both in terms of stamina, and getting your butt ready (literally) to be on a bike for that long. This is true for experienced riders as well.
- The better prepared you are to ride your bike, the more time will be available for hikes, side excursions, exploring, or enjoying an extended cocktail hour at camp. It’s great to feel tired and accomplished when you roll into camp in the afternoon, but being totally annihilated from riding isn’t a great feeling.
- If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with dry riding conditions and good weather early in the spring, any sort of outdoor riding will be the best preparation, be it mountain riding or road riding.
- If your spring bike trip with Holiday will be your first foray into (hopefully) dry and sunny weather for the season, enrolling in a spin class or even just using an exercise bike at the gym will be beneficial. I always like to focus on time on the bike, rather than mileage.
Show up Prepared
- If you’re renting a bike from Holiday, and it’s your first time riding a modern mountain bike, I recommend renting and riding a similar style of bike (Holiday’s rental fleet consists of Specialized Stumpjumpers, for reference) before the trip so you can familiarize yourself with disc brakes and a dropper seat post.
- Bringing your own bike? Awesome! Making sure it’s in good working shape before showing up for your trip is extremely important. Take your bike to your local bike shop in the weeks before your trip and ask them to do a service to make sure it’s shifting gears properly, the brakes are working, and your tires have good tread and fresh sealant (If tubeless). If any parts or components need to be replaced, it’s far better to figure that out well before the trip, rather than the morning you’re supposed to start riding! The guides will check every bike’s functionality before the trip, and we are equipped to repair bikes in the field, but making sure your bike is in top-shelf shape before the trip really reduces the chances of a mechanical at the start of the trip.
- As far as other gear goes, having a hydration pack with 2-3 liters of water capacity is very helpful. I like to have a 16 oz water bottle as well, that I can fill with electrolyte mix to supplement my regular water. You’re always able to refill water by waiting for the support van, but you’ll have the freedom to ride at your own pace if you can carry enough water for a few hours. Plan to drink more than you think you’ll need, it’ll make you feel so much better! I also make sure I have a clean pair of socks and a clean chamois to wear every day. Holiday’s website has a comprehensive pack list compiled for everything else.
Exercises to Get You Ready For the Season
- Walking Lunge with Rotation Twist– Helps your quads, hips, core, and balance.
-Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then step one foot into a front lunge and twist your torso toward your leading leg with your arms at chest height.
-Repeat ten times on each side, alternating legs.
- Speed Skater– this exercise targets all the muscles you need for solid pedaling!
-With your feet hip-width apart, slightly bend both knees and balance on one leg.
-jump side to side, only ever having one leg on the ground.
-Swing your arms side to side like a speed skater.
-Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Burpee– A classic move targeting your entire body, helping to train you for when you hit an unexpected hill or uneven terrain.
-Stand with your feet shoulder-width (or slightly wider) apart then jump straight up with your hands above your head.
-as you land (softly!) with your knees bent, squat down and place your hands down in front of you, then kick both feet back putting you into a plank position.
-Reverse the motions to get back up on your feet and repeat 5-8 times.
- Plank Renegade Row– This exercise will help with your abdominal and neck muscles, important for correct biking form.
-Grab two dumbbells and place them on the ground in front of you as you get into a push-up position.
-Pull one dumbbell toward your armpit by bending your elbow at a 30-45 degree angle, then slowly release and switch arms.
-Use a weight that you can control for 2-3 sets of 5-8 times on each side.
- Fire Hydrant– Strong glutes are important for many reasons, so this one is good for everything!
-Get on your hands and knees on a flat surface with your hands directly under your shoulders, and knees directly underneath your hips, creating one long line in your back from the crown of your head to your glutes.
-lift your right knee straight out to the side, keeping your knee at a 90-degree angle, then lower back down to the starting position and repeat.
-Do a few sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
- STRETCH STRETCH STRETCH! There’s no such thing as stretching too much. And having mobility along with strength goes a long way and helps to prevent injuries
I’m looking forward to springtime bike season with Holiday. I love riding my bike to some of my favorite places in the world, be it on the White Rim, or in the Maze. Every trip can have challenges, both on and off the bike, but working past those is part of what I love so much about these trips. As soon as the snow melts here in Salt Lake, I’ll be on my bike getting ready for bike season with great anticipation. I hope to see you out there this spring!
I am from Salt Lake City, UT, and began working for Holiday in 2012. I worked in the warehouse during my first year, and I have been guiding ever since. My favorite trip to do with Holiday is the White Rim bike trip, in Canyonlands National Park. I love mountain biking and skiing. I work as a photographer, primarily a ski photographer, in the winter months. Check out samwatsonphotos.com to see my portfolio of photos I’ve shot for Holiday River Expeditions, my ski galleries, and more.