• Kate Potter

Mountain Bike Training Camp for 65 Degrees North in the Pyrenees

Ian and I had the pleasure of working on a Training Camp for 65 Degrees North last week. We were asked to provide bike hire and training to help a group of mountain bikers of mixed abilities in their preparation for riding the Munda Biddi Trail in Western Australia.

Who are 65 Degrees North?

65 Degrees North seeks to help in the rehabilitation of wounded or damaged ex-servicemen and women by offering the opportunity to participate in challenging adventure.

By changing the perception of physical and mental disability through the ‘Spirit of Adventure’ we aim to inspire and motivate others to overcome, achieve and succeed.

Find out more about 65 Degrees North HERE

What is the Munda Biddi Trail?

The Munda Biddi Trail is an off road cycling challenge across Western Australia. The trail covers around 1000km through Eucalyptus forest, scrub and bushland. There are only a few towns along the trail, with riders needing to be self sufficient and to carry everything they will need for the duration of their ride. The riders representing 65 Degrees North have only 13 days to complete the route. There will be no assistance from a support crew or mechanic, nor will they have the luxury of hot water or comfortable beds.

Find out more about the Munda Biddi Trail HERE


Ian and I travelled to a small village called Comus situated in the Aude region in the French Pyrenees, home to only 20 locals and surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Comus is a great base for cyclists, hikers and of course mountain bikers! Ian and I only had 2 days to try and pass on as much mountain bike knowledge and experience as we felt would benefit these riders in preparation for their ride across Western Australia in October.

Day 1: The morning started with a huge storm that battered the area with fork lighting and deafening thunder, followed by heavy rain. The group just took the bad weather in their stride as they focused on Ian's Trailside Mechanical Workshop that focused on -

*Fixing a puncture

*Repairing a tyre

*Repairing a broken chain

*Index and gearing

*Setting disc brakes

*Changing brake pads

*Straightening a disc rotor

*Essentials to carry in your tool kit that won't weigh you down

Riders weren't experienced at trail side mechanics and so we ensured they had plenty of practical experience throughout the workshop.

The seminar was followed by bike fit with riders choosing Cotic Soul, Solaris or Rocket bikes to ride. Once the group were comfortable and familiar with their bikes the ride started lead by our guide Jonathan who was the organiser behind this challenge. Weather wasn't ideal, but it was all part of the training experience as you never know how harsh the weather conditions will be when riding day after day in unfamiliar territory. We used this ride to test the group and see what they remembered from their mechanical workshop. We also organised individual and group technical coaching sessions along the way after we saw each person's riding ability. The focus was on riding efficiently and ensuring the riders weren't wasting energy unnecessarily. Basic skills that we believe should always be practised included -

*Climbing position, technique and pedalling efficiency.

*Down hill position to ensure grip and confidence on the trail.

*Cornering and ensuring your body moves with the trail in order to save energy.

After 3-4hrs of riding we returned looking like drowned rats, but with smiles as most people would have remain tucked up indoors than brave these stormy elements. it was a great first days ride for the group with 4 days of riding to follow and more appealing weather conditions to look forward to.

Day 2: The morning started with my Seminar on Nutrition and Fuel efficiency for ultra endurance cycling. The main focus was on how to prepare and fuel the body for a 1000km ride in an isolated environment where shops and cafes are limited. The key points will be highlighted in future blogs for A Quality Ride Coaching, but for now here were the main areas I discussed in more detail for when preparing for an ultra endurance event -


In my opinion the preparation phase is more important than what you do during the ride itself when you will have limited choices. Over the next few months it’s time to focus on the three most important areas of your training that make up the preparation phase (in my opinion) –

  1. Endurance – teaching your body to be fuel efficient so you can keep going day after day.

  2. Strength – in body, mind and IMMUNE SYSTEM!

  3. Fast Recovery - teach your body to know when it's time to chill out and grow strong.

STAGE 2 – THE RIDE – Impossible to count calories – Focus on little but often!

There are plenty of conflicting articles on how to fuel yourself for peak performance. However I often read articles that lack relevance to an individual and the type of endurance event they are focusing on. In this case the riders don't have the luxury of feed stations or a support team around them. They are on their own and need to make sure they can carry enough supplies for the duration of their ride. They are not trying to race anyone, but ensure they continue to reach each shelter before dark and have the energy to carry on for 13 days. Here were a few suggestions that I will go into detail in future bog posts -


  • Keep food and fluid options simple and easy to carry.

  • During ride avoid eating large amounts in one sitting as you will tire as your body will prioritise energy for healthy digestion rather than riding your bike.

  • Low fibre and low saturated fat or greasy food if possible...unless it's your only option!

  • Easy digestible food (dare I say it 'refined') so it's easy for your body to break down whilst under stress.

  • Energy products that you can carry easily such as drinks, gels and bars (check ingredients and make sure you don't experience discomfort as not everyone can tolerate fructose for example which is found in a lot of energy products)

  • Water purifier options you may consider as there will be fresh water en route, but no guarantee the water is good quality, look into –

  • Water to Go Instant Filtration

  • Lifestraw Go Filter

  • Filter water bottles


I come across so many people who think that they can eat anything they fancy following a big ride or ultra endurance challenge without consequence. However the aftermath of any sport or activity (especially an ultra endurance event) should be given just as much thought as the previous 2 stages. An important area to consider is helping your body readjust to real food and daily life, whilst recovering from the stress of such a huge ride.

I will be adding more information and my thoughts in future blogs very soon that discusses these areas outlined above in more detail...


Ian and I then waved goodbye to all 15 mountain bikers as they started the next phase of their training camp where they would be riding all day every day for the next 5 days and be completely reliant on each other in the mountains...

Ian and I have been coaching cyclists/mountain bikers for over 15 years and love seeing how people can progress, improve and rise to the challenges that they set themselves.

Feedback -

AQR produced a magic answer to my requirements this past week. The great van disgorged all the right kit; Ian's session in the rain was just right; the guiding and training you provided on that shortened first day really worked; your Seminar in our little garden was perfect and Ian was there to gather up all his bikes as we rode in yesterday. The bikes had been well used during the week. I'm really grateful for the way you both do things, and do them so well. Thank you.

Ian and I really enjoyed participating in the 65 Degrees North Training Camp, and look forward to hearing about how the riders cope with this challenge across the Munda Biddi Trail in Western Australia in October.

Every year AQR Holidays & Coaching offer training camps in Portugal and the Pyrenees, as well as optional coaching seminars and mountain bike skills coaching on all our holidays. If you would like to find out more about how Ian & Kate Potter can help you or your team prepare for a challenge or competition then contact .

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