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Coast more to ride faster

Riding down hills is hard.

Not only is mountain biking down hills really physical, but you need to brake at the right places, handle some gnarly terrain, pick the best lines, and pump and flow if you want to go fast.

There’s a lot to think about and there’s a lot for your body to do. Add in pedaling and it’s even harder.

But do we really need to be doing all that pedaling?

I wrote before about pacing, but this one is all about coasting– and getting confident in being able to do it!

nz enduro

I’m always out there trying these strategies. I can’t keep up with the pros anymore, which means I need all the help I can get!

It’s true that we can’t all coast our way to World Cup DH victories like Aaron Gwin, but why are we not practicing coasting all the time?

One of my original research studies looked at coasting.

And specifically, how much energy it took to coast versus how much energy it took to pedal on a 1km MTB descent.


The test

We had riders ride up a hill at their threshold, and then blast down the hill at race pace. The first run was practice, and the second and third were either coasting all the time or pedaling whenever they wanted (in a random order). We also measured vibrations and added a road descent of the same length at the same speed.

We measured their VO2, heart rate, time and power output the whole time.

Their average VO2 (that’s representative of the energy their bodies are using) was lower in the coasting and road trials than when pedaling.

And there was no difference in the time it took to get down the track when coasting or pedaling.