Basically this is an event that requires a huge amount of skill and an unknown amount of power. Based on the time of the event and the limited pedaling time involved in any single run we can assume that the majority of the power produced by a downhill mountain biker is anaerobic in nature and probably comes from a combination of our two anaerobic energy systems. These being the ATP-PC and anaerobic-glycolytic energy systems. The ATP-PC systems produces the largest amount of power but it can be sustained for only a very short period of time <10 seconds, whereas the anaerobic-glycolytic energy system produces slightly less power but it can be sustained for a longer time frame roughly 2 minutes.
Based on the above assumption and the physiological demands described earlier I decided that a battery of 3 tests would provide the basis for our physiological testing. The three tests that I chose were,
- 10 second peak power test
- 30 second wingate test
- 6 x 3 seconds repeat sprint test
Test explanation and justification10 second peak power test:
The 10 second peak power test was designed to replicate the out of the gate sprint, on course pedaling section and potential sprint for the line. It represents the upper limit of time that an athlete would be pedaling for out on course. I was looking for an athlete that could produce large amounts of power and sustain it over the 10 second test period. This test will place a huge demand on the neuromuscular system as well as the ATP-PC without fatiguing the anaerobic glycolytic system.30 second Wingate test:
The Wingate test is commonly used in a wide range of physiology labs around the world as a measure of anaerobic capacity. It places a large amount of stress on the anaerobic-glycolytic system and we are really looking for the athlete who is able to maintain their power output for the entire 30 seconds. Although this test is longer than almost all pedaling sections in a downhill mountain bike race it provides valuable information about an athlete’s anaerobic capacity.6 x 3 second repeat sprint test:
This test has its background in BMX racing however it shares valuable characteristics with downhill mountain biking specifically we are looking at an athlete’s ability to produce large power outputs in a very short time span at high cadence, recover, repeat. This test perhaps most closely mimics the specific demands of downhill racing. The test protocol places huge demand on the neuromuscular system, ATP-PC system and Anaerobic-glycolytic energy system. As the entire test lasts 3 minutes including the rest period.