Four hour training

Leatt 4 Hour Taupo 2010

Tips for Novices

By Nick Reader

A four hour race can be a bit daunting if it is your first competition so here are some tips to help make your race day go well.


A social rider should try to do at least 3 training sessions a week of around one hour.  Mountain biking is great, running is good, gym workouts are OK.  Riding your motorbike is by far the best training.  Try to ride every weekend and get a mid week skills ride in if you can.  Allow one day in between training sessions to recover.

The weekend prior.

If possible you should try to ride or race the weekend before the event togive your body a good workout.

If you are doing the Leatt 4 Hour as an individual then ride for 4.5 hours this weekend at 90% max pace with only very short breaks in between refueling. This will help your fitness, bike skills, mental concentration, confidence and mental toughness.

If riding as a team, then ride the duration that you will ride on the day. Ie Ride for 1 hour then have 1 hour off. Or 30 minutes on and 30 off. But make sure you do 2 hours of riding total.

The week leading up to the race should only involve a small amount of training. Ie 1-2 30 minutes sessions - either running, swimming or mountain biking etc at about 90% effort. The reality is that you will be busy at nights preparing your bike and packing your gear so you won't have much spare time.

What ever you do, you must have 2 complete days of rest before the event so you have heaps of energy on the day.

Bike preparation

It has to last the distance so you need to show your bike some love. Check over everything basic like nuts and bolts, oil, coolant levels etc. Use loctite on the important bolts including seat bolts.
Use an O Ring chain and steel sprockets otherwise your chain will stretch and maybe come off.
Fit some decent hand guards preferably with an alloy insert. A rock or tree might hurt your hand or bend your bars and hand guards might prevent this. Acerbis are the market leader for hand guards.
If you ride a MX bike, maybe gear it up a little to mellow out the power delivery and increase the top speed. Often one tooth on the front is the cheapest and best option.

Your suspension will take a hammering over this race as the bumps develop. As a minimum, make sure your bikes static and rider sag are correct and that your fork clamps are mounted on the forks at the right height to balance the suspension. You don't want 30mm of the fork sticking out the top of the clamps because this gives the bike head shake and could spit you over the bars at speed! Your suspension should have had a service no more than 5-10 hours ago so that it can do its job. There is still time to call Richie at Moto SR. 07 3080310.


Just take the very basics with you (2-3 Allan keys, 10mm, 8mm etc) and not a full tool belt. You should be able to limp back to the pits with a flat tyre and change it there. You don't want the weight of a full tool belt.


The lap is around 25km. Can you do 2 laps or just 1 before refueling? Know how many minutes your bike can do at race pace. Then get your pit crew to time your first lap then you will know if 2 laps are possible. If in doubt, fuel every lap.


I rate roll off systems as they give multi clear views. Ironman riders should have 1-2 spare sets if you can afford it.


It will be a start with a dead engine and hands on the rear mudguard. Practice until you get 10 in a row perfect. Does your bike start well with ¼ or full throttle? Does your bike start in gear EVERY TIME? Do you select 2nd or 1st off the start line? Stay calm, be methodical and get your weight forward when you accelerate.
Novices can start on the back row for a low stress start.
If you get a bad start, look well ahead and try to pick a way though any possible crashes. The first 4km is pretty open so there will be chances to pass.

Mind power

Concentration is critical to riding fast and safe. Develop some key words and talk to yourself during the race. My words used to be, stand up, look ahead, early gas, attack.
If you get a rubbish start, stay calm and positive. It is a long race and you do have time to make up positions.

Body fuel

You need energy and hydration on the day. Get some good carbohydrate foods into you the week before and especially the day before the event. You know the good stuff, pasta, potatoes etc. Plus get some fluid in you. You know you are hydrated if your urine is clear. On the day use a sports drink that has sugars, some electrolytes etc. Don't worry if you are a bit nervous and don't feel like eating the day of the event. Just have a banana or muslea bar, but still drink.

Wear a CamelBak. Individuals will need 2-3 litres. Even if you are riding as a team, wear a CamelBak all day because you need to rehydrate in between stints on the bike. Put a diluted energy drink in the reservoir because you will need some sugar.

Stay calm

Be 100% organized for the event so you are not rushing on the morning.  Keep yourself busy if that helps you to remaing calm.  Get a good team of people around you who are low stress.  Arrive early.


If you are a team rider, keep track of time so you are not surprised by your team mate flying into the pits to find you with no helmet on or not ready to refuel. Remember this is a team sport.

Team riders and laps

Most average riders will ride 2 laps each for their first stint then drop to 1 lap each after the 2 hour mark due to fatigue.

Riding tips

The Leatt 4 hour track has a mix of fast pumice roads, old logging tracks and tighter bush sections.

On the faster pumice roads you should be able to sit down and get on the gas, but it often pays to be standing so you can react to upcoming obstacles (water ruts etc)

The old logging tracks might get rough so you will need to stand up over the bumps, keeping your weight slightly to the rear of the bike and grip the seat with your knees.

The tighter bush sections can be ridden seated or standing. There will be heaps of berms I reckon and not many ruts. For berm turns, choose a line that gets you onto the berm early, lean with the bike into the inside of the turn then get on the gas early and smooth. Look to the exit and stay with the berm (don't turn to the inside and fall off the berm)

The track will get rough towards the 2nd half of the race so a strong standing riding position will be required. You can lean back and try and skim across the whoops, but this does take quite a bit of energy. Look for smooth lines on the extreme left and right of the track, but take care that you don't strike a stick or rock.

Try to ride smooth to save energy. Sit down where you can get away with it to conserve energy.

Look well ahead always to pick lines and keep up the speed.

Enjoy it

Enjoy being part of this brand new event cranking around the track, scorching on the pumice roads and blitzing the bush sections.

Best of luck

Nick Reader
Epic Events

About Nick Reader as a former racer/coach
2 x National Cross Country Champion
3 x Tarawera 100 winner
Motorcycling NZ Coaching Director 5 years
Bachelor of Leisure Studies