Short Track XC MTB racing is typically a 20-40 minute a mass-start event that takes place on a very short, dirt circuit. The skill level and racing style required will depend on the terrain and the geographic location, however, in all cases, short track is an intense racing format. You will spend a majority of your time in VO2 max and Anaerobic Zones, pausing only momentarily before going back into the red. Much like a criterium on the dirt, tactics play a huge role in the success of a short track racer.
Optimal Training Approach
Base: Sweet Spot Base I&II
Build: Short Power Build
Specialty: Short Track Specialty
As with all mountain bike racing, bike handling skills can save you a lot of time out on the course. The ability to carry speed through corners and attack technical sections with confidence can provide a huge amount of "free speed", allowing you to use your watts when they matter the most.
Below is a video that we made with Lee McCormick that can help shed some light on how you can become a more capable and successful bike handler.
For most Short Track events, a hardtail XC mountain bike is the best option due to its light weight and stiff and responsive frame. However, for some particularly rough courses, you can save a bit of energy in the rough sections on a short travel full suspension mountain bike at the expense of super-efficient power transfer and sprinting capabilities.
Not quite the perfect fit?
Cross Country Training: If your races fall closer to the 1-2 hour mark, then XC Olympic would be a more suitable approach.
XC Marathon Training: If your races tend to be 3+ hours, then XC Marathon would be an excellent choice.