• Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race Plan is Now Available!

     10 Finishes for the 1,000-Mile Buckle!

    Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race Plan General Description

    The new Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race training plan is here! After many, many requests I designed a plan specifically for the legendary Leadville race. The plan is 28-weeks in length to prepare you specifically for this race. You can find it on my TrainingPeaks page here. (The entire list of training plans is on my main page.)

    Below is additional information on the training plan. Know that when you purchase the plan, you will also receive a 21-page pdf file with supporting information.


    The overall structure is two weeks of training to build training volume and intensity, followed by one week of recovery. This is a three-week cycle format. While some riders can do well on a four-week cycle, I have found a three-week cycle works well for athletes utilizing higher training levels because riders can keep the quality of workouts high and avoid deep fatigue.

    Weeks 1 through 15

    Please be certain that you download the free documents that are supplemental to all of my training plans, found on this page. If you have not done the test to determine your training zones prior to beginning the plan, you can do that, instead of the workout shown, on Wednesday, week 1 of the training plan.

    For the overall structure of the plan weeks 1 through 15, Monday and Wednesday are strength training days. Friday is shown as an optional day off on the plan; however, depending on your personal needs, Friday can be an additional strength training day or an optional easy ride day. This is where the plan training time can increase by an hour each week. (Ranging on the top side from 9.5 to 10.5 hours per week.)

    If you decide to strength train on Fridays, keep the AA Phase of training on this day throughout the entire plan. If you decide to ride for an hour on Fridays, keep the intensity of the ride mostly in Zones 1 to 2. You can use this day to work on cycling skills as well. The plan includes several days of skills, use any one of these workouts.

    Tuesday and Thursday workouts vary throughout the plan, but the time stays around an hour on each day. If you have the time and energy to increase these workouts up to 30 minutes each, that is another option. Remember that more volume does not necessarily make you a faster rider. More volume or intensity is only good if your body can use it for positive adaptations. Chose wisely.

    Saturday rides on the plan are shown as group rides. In many locations the trails do not dry out until April. If your trails dry out early, you can make this ride a mountain bike ride. The Saturday ride is the longer and more intense ride of the weekend.

    If you do participate in group rides, try to keep the intentions of the workout shown on the plan within your group ride. If your group rides are on Sundays rather than Saturdays, just exchange the two workouts.

    Sunday is a mostly aerobic ride. If you are tired from Saturday, do not feel like you have to push Zone 2 at all. If you are an experienced cyclist that can handle more training intensity, some Zone 3 instructions are provided for you on specific days. Be smart about when to add more intensity and when to back off. Keep in mind that fitness improvements are achieved by metered stress and recovery, in the form of total rest or active recovery.

    Weeks 16 through 28

    Weeks 16 to 23 work to improve not only lactate threshold speed; but overall race endurance as well. Leadville is a race that requires efforts at lactate threshold and above. On race day, the goal is to use these energy reserves (lactate threshold and above) sparingly. Use the intensity to clear a obstacle or pass someone, but aim recover as quickly as possible to aerobic intensity.

    Know that steady lactate threshold effort can only be held for some 60 to 90 minutes. Obviously your race will take longer than this and you don't want to have your legs "burn up" before the halfway point in the race.

    At the same time, this race has cutoffs. You must be as fast as possible for an aerobic energy cost. The plan is designed to help you achieve that goal.

    As training intensity and volume increases, you may find you need to reduce the weights, sets, repetitions or some combination of all to keep strength training from negatively affecting your cycling. Another option is to take Monday as a day off, rather than strength train.

    Tuesday workouts are typically form work or aerobic rides. The Wednesday workouts can be done on a road bike or a mountain bike. If you live in a location where you must drive a long distance to get to the trails, a road bike works fine for these sessions.

    Thursday is a day off throughout weeks 16 to 28. The combined training volume of Friday, Saturday and Sunday is part of the plan strategy.

    Friday is similar to Wednesday in that if you must drive a good distance to get to a mountain bike trail, the ride can be done on a road bike.

    The Saturday ride is your key mountain bike ride each week. Early in the plan, these rides can be done on a variety of trails. The closer you get to race day, the more you need to be simulating course climbs and grades.

    The Sunday ride is a mostly aerobic ride that is best done on a road bike or a mountain bike course that is not too technically demanding. The main goal for Sunday is a steady, aerobic ride. The two weekend rides paired together build your overall race day endurance while keeping your average power or speed as high as possible.

    This plan uses a “crash” training week (shown as week 25 in the plan) where volume and intensity is increased far beyond normal training. A crash training week can give you a significant boost to your fitness only if you are rested going into the high volume week and you recover the week following the training.

    The three key days of the crash training week are:

    • Start to the Fish Hatchery and back to the start
    • Twin Lakes to Columbine Mine and back (with optional add-on miles)
    • The Fish Hatchery to Twin Lakes and back

    TCX files are included for each of these days (attached to that day of training), so you can load them as a "course" on your training device. This prevents wasted training time getting lost.

    If you need to accomplish course recon in two days, you can combine the rides shown as 3) and 2).

    If you need to cut out training time or intensity in week 25 to stay healthy, do it.

    If you need to move the volume shown in week 25 to week 24 due to your personal schedule, switch the two weeks. In addition, remove three hours of ride time from week 24.

    If you want to race or do a ride longer than what is shown on the plan, a general guideline is to keep weekend volume close to the same, but just move some of the training time from Saturday to Sunday or vice versa.


    At some point during the race, nearly everyone will need to hike-a-bike. I recommend you include some hiking in your training plan. This can be in the form of using a stair machine before weights. You can ride mountain bike courses or roads with very steep hills – plan to walk some of them. You can replace some of your easy ride days with hiking days. Use the stairs at any given opportunity in your everyday life. If you are in Leadville training for the race, take one day to hike up Powerline.

    I'm happy to answer general questions as best I can. Those of you that have questions about personalizing the training plan to a greater extent can schedule a personal consultation session. I do this often with many of my training plans.

    Wishing you the best on your Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race training plan journey. Keep me posted how it goes for you ~

    Coach Gale Bernhardt


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  • Comments on this post (16 comments)

    • GHVMowagDkZcEW says...


      On September 22, 2020

    • yIFacZkKmAu says...


      On September 22, 2020

    • Carl Tilander says...

      Hi Gale,
      Where can I access or DL the tcx files from?
      Thank you

      On March 18, 2019

    • Juliette says...

      Thanks Gale – that’s really helpful!

      On February 08, 2015

    • Gale Bernhardt says...

      Hi Juliette,

      The Leadville 100-specific training plan includes tcx files for those wanting to pre-ride the course. Additionally, there are attachments included for altitude training and racing.

      Similar to the Level II plan in my book, this plan includes a big training week; however, the big week is moved to three weeks before Leadville, rather than 6 shown in the Level II plan. (I prefer the big training week occur some 3-6 weeks prior to the race.)

      The final thing this plan includes is specific climbing goals. Because Leadville includes so much climbing, I included weekly climbing goals. For those that don’t live near many hills, I included threshold goals for riding into headwinds or just aiming for threshold time.

      If you want to use the book, you can combine the Foundation Fitness plan prior to the Level II race plan. You won’t get Leadville-specific items, but you may not need those.

      Hope that helps?


      On February 01, 2015

    • Juliette says...

      Gale – how different is this plan to the one in your training book to prepare a level 2 mountain biker for a 100 mike race?

      On January 31, 2015

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