The London to Brighton is one of the UK’s longest-running charity bike rides, with the inaugural event having taken place back in 1976. In recent years, however, event organisers the British Heart Foundation have decided to provide an off-road alternative, offering mountain bikers a chance to ride from the capital to the South Coast on an almost exclusively Tarmac-free route, via cycle tracks, forest paths and singletrack – at 120km, this is nearly 40% longer than the road version and includes 1570m of climbing.
To get yourself ready for this epic challenge, try adding the workout below to your gym and riding regime for the last few weeks before the event. Devised by coach Alan Milway for downhill mountain bike champion Gee Atherton – who you can see demonstrating the moves – it includes upper-body exercises to help you muscle your bike through tricky terrain, lower-body plyometrics to help develop pedalling power and core-strengthening exercises to to help you maintain a solid posture on your bike.
1. Sots press
Sets 3 Reps 5
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the bar held on your traps. Lower into a squat position and hold. Press the bar overhead, pause and then lower under control.
2. Weighted wide-grip pull-up
Sets 3 Reps 8
Pull up until your chin clears the bar, without kicking your legs out. Lower under control until you’re in a dead hang
3. Depth press-up
Sets 3 Reps 4-6
Place two weight stacks of equal height just wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your chest slowly past the stacks. Press up explosively and catch yourself on the stacks. Drop your hands back to the floor and repeat.
4. Ball throw
Sets 3 Reps 6-8
Using a two-handed chest press, explosively throw a 5kg ball as high as you can. Have your partner catch it and then drop it back to you.
5. Trap bar deadlift
Sets 4 Reps 1-2
Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. As you lift, drive through your heels and push your hips forward, keeping your chest up. At the top, pull your shoulder blades back. Lower under control.
6. Box jump
Sets 2 Reps 6
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Drop down, swinging your arms back. Drive up into the jump, staying compact in the air and looking for max height, and land softly.
7. Clockwise pistol
Sets 2 each side Reps 4
Lift one foot off the floor ahead of you and bend your knee to lower, with your arms held out for balance. Stand up, then lower to the back, then to one side, then the other. That’s one rep.
8. Plate drop
Sets 3 Time 60sec
Pull the plate up to your chest, release it while keeping your hands around it, and catch it at knee height. Keep your core locked and knees soft during each rep.
Sets 2 Reps 6-8
Lie on your back with knees and arms raised and get a partner to place one weight plate in your hands and one on your shins. Lower the weights under control keeping your toes up. Don’t let your arms or legs touch the ground. Return to the start by engaging your hip flexors, core and arms.
10. Norwegian wrestler
Sets 1 Time 2min
Get into a bent-over row position and keep your trunk still with tension in your hamstrings. Start rowing the weights in a loop by reaching them forwards and then up and back as if you were pulling a rope.
The London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride takes place on 26th September. Sign up here
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