No Off Season Blues

We’re proud to welcome South African Downhill Champion Stefan Garlicki to the line-up of Full Sus regulars. We hope you’ll enjoy sharing his 2016 racing journey with him.

In my sport we get to have a long off season, which is great in some ways but also not good in others. I have always had great off seasons in the past, and the 2015/2016 off season was the first time I have had to deal with an injury. I have a bit of cartilage damage in my knee which has happened over time and it was starting to bother me over the past season. After many doctor visits I was told to take 3 months off the bike to let the knee settle down.

It’s the first time I’ve been injured in the off season and it’s affected my preparation. My normal off season training would include a lot of skills training on the downhill bike which, for the first time these past few months, I was not able to do.

This was certainly not my plan after just having the best season of my career! But things happen in life and I always try and look for the positives. I was lucky that I was able to still keep cycling on the road and do gym to keep my fitness up; I just had to avoid impact stuff. It gave me time to focus on other things, like starting the distribution of Reverse Components into SA.

Come January I could finally get back on the bike – it was a good feeling to say the least, even though my knee was not quite 100%. I could not remember when last I had been so excited to ride my bike. I honestly believe it was a good thing as it has motivated me so much for the year ahead! I think that time off is something that a lot of athletes forget and underestimate. As riders we are constantly riding and training to keep improving, but it’s easy to forget we started riding to have fun.

Sometimes when you are so focused on something, the fun can go and I think having a break can be a really good thing and get the engines all fired up again!

However, now that I am back riding, it is all systems go for training! I think that training is something that gets overlooked by a lot of people when it comes to downhill mountain biking. When I tell people about my training they are usually very surprised at how much is involved to prepare me for a five minute race run. I also hear the “you guys are so lazy” when people hear that we get a lift to the top of the mountain and then just race down. What most people don’t realise is that I spend way more time on my trail bike and in the gym than I do on my actual downhill bike. This is due to a number of reasons, but for starters it can be tricky to find a shuttle to get to the top and also you need to be in a certain physical condition to actually race down at the speeds we do.

At this point things are coming along well and my first national event is coming up at the end of the month at the Helderberg Trails in Somerset West. I am really looking forward to going racing again and building on the momentum from 2015. Thanks so much to all my sponsors, family and friends for sticking behind me and keeping the dream alive!

Until next time…

Profile PicBio:

Stefan Garlicki is the reigning South African Downhill MTB Champion. He’s sponsored by Investec, will be racing in Europe this year and sharing his experiences with Full Sus readers. Follow him on Twitter: @StefanGarlicki.

Sus a Week of Stef’s Training

My off season base training varies a lot but an example of 1 week’s program would consists of:

  • 2-3 xc/road rides in the week ranging from 2-4 hours each
  • 2 sessions in the gym for around 2 hours each
  • 1 swim of 2,5km
  • 3 times on the downhill bike doing 6-7 runs
  • 1 session on the motocross bike for 1 hour of ride time
  • 1 session at the dirt jumps or pump track for a couple of hours

As you can see it is pretty jam packed so I hope this gives you a better idea of a downhill racer.

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