Nino Schurter is a Swiss cross-country cyclist and member of the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Team. He holds 8 UCI World Cup overall titles and 10 world championship titles in cross-country mountain biking. Schurter has won Olympic medals: gold at Rio 2016, silver at London 2012, and bronze at Beijing 2008. He is also a 5-time Swiss National Champion (2012-2015). In 2014, he joined Orica–GreenEDGE for a number of road races. A native of Tersnaus, Lumnezia, Schurter began his professional cycling career in 2007 with SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing. He now rides a Scott Spark RC World cup EVO.
To be the fastest in a mountain bike race, you need to find a pace that is at your threshold and maintain it for the entire duration of the race. This can be done by using a power meter to measure how long you can stay at certain Power Zones. Transcript: "Actually, that's a good question, especially for tomorrow's Cape Epic stage, first stage prologue. It's always if you can ride the highest pace over the entire distance, you'll always be faster than if you go on some points just a bit faster and then slower, faster. So you need to try to find the highest possible pace over the entire distance. That's now what we are trying also for tomorrow's prologue stage. So we know the route. We know the distance. We know about how long it's going to be. How long we are on those three climbs that we are going to see tomorrow. And from our interval trainings and all our training, we know exactly how long we can stay at a certain Power Zone. So we use a power meter in our bag. So that's how we pace ourselves, actually, off the power if you know how long you're going to try to be fast, and you have a good power meter, you can actually pace you quite well. It is sometimes challenging on the mountain bike, when there is a lot of turns, and it's bumpy, and you never can really go as hard as if you go on the tarmac. So you need to keep that in mind. But if you know what your threshold is, if you want to be at your best over an hour, just try to ride on your threshold, and you will be the fastest. If you go too fast at the beginning, you will slow down towards the end and it will for sure be slower. And if you can hold it all the way to the end, your threshold will be higher than you were thinking. So that's the challenge. You need to find out how fit you are and then have a good power meter. And then you will find out quite soon what's your best pacing strategy. Have a good one, maybe you are going to watch the Cape Epic tomorrow and see if we had a good pacing or not."
I'm not sharing the maximum number because it's something that people try to use to value athletes and it's not an exact science. Transcript: "A lot of people are asking about where we get to a maximum. I'm not really willing to share because there is a lot of different techniques to actually, to get this number. And there's a lot of wrong numbers. Or some people that actually get the number from some medical stations, where they're pretty sure not doing it right. So I'm actually not sharing this number. Because it's something that people always try to value different athletes in between. So it's something I'm not really into share."
Tire pressure is important for mountain biking and you should use your hands to measure it. Find a pressure that works for you based on your skills, style, bike, etc. Transcript: "Hi Christian. Tire pressure is really important on the mountain bike. But it depends on what kind of system you run, so what rim, what tire. If you use a sealant, or a tube, or an insert. So that all matters for your tire pressure. So in the past years or months, we went wider and wider to get actually a bigger volume. A bigger volume you can run lower pressure, so I'm running mostly between 1.25 in front and 1.3 bars in the back, that's about 18 PSI in the front and 19 PSI in the back. But you need to find out a bit for yourself what's your best tire pressure. It depends also on your riding skills, on your riding style, your body weight, all those things matter. Also your bike, how much travel you have. So that's a lot of different things. Now I try to show you how to measure it with your hands, that's actually a good thing. Just a second. I think that's a really good technique to measure your tire pressure, is with your hands. You put your thumb on it, and with the other hand, you need to be able to press your thumb almost down to the rim. If you touch the rim easily, you definitely run too low pressure. If you almost break your finger, it's definitely too hard. I always check my tire pressure with my hands after I pump it with my pump to make sure my feeling is right, because a lot of pumps are not accurate. Hope that was helpful. All the best."
To manage being a father, husband, and professional athlete, I keep things as simple as possible, do one thing at a time, and enlist the help of my family and friends to ensure that I can focus on the task at hand. Finding the right balance is critical for success. Transcript: "Hi. That's a really good question. I also sometimes struggle to be all topics, get this sometimes challenging life to be a father, a husband, a provider, and having a lot of other things also to do. But yeah, I am lucky. I have a lot of good people around me that are helping me to actually keep everything as simple as possible and to try to do everything as good as possible. But for sure, sometimes you need to be the father sometimes. You need to be the full professional cyclist and try to keep everything as simple as possible. And if there's a lot to do, I always try to do one after the other, not everything together. If I try to do this, I mostly get stressful. And then I'm not happy, and all the people are feeling that around me. So I just try to do steps by steps and working my to do list down. And what I-- as soon as racing is getting really, really intense, I really have-- I try also to-- the people around me to help me, that I really can focus on racing. But there is also times where I'm 100% the father, or 100% the husband. And then I'm maybe doing some compromises as an athlete, but that's life. I think everybody needs to do this. Nobody can be 24 hours just an athlete. And just find a good balance. That's important for life. But also, as an athlete, I think if you find the right balance, you can be successful. I hope that was helpful. I wish you all the best if you are also in this challenge, being an athlete, a father, a husband, and maybe much more. So good luck, and see you somewhere."
I have been using a handlebar with increasing widths over the past 20 years for improved handling and breathing. I currently use a 70 cm wide handlebar for cross country racing, but on my trail bike I use an even wider bar for better handling. Transcript: "A necklace. That's a really good question. We made that process over time. So through the past 20 years. I went from a handlebar. That was 55 CM wide to a 70. CM wide handlebar what I'm writing now. It has a lot of advantages over other hand bar. Yeah, better handling in the downhills, but also breathing gets better if you are open and wide in your chest, but We also got to a point where like the rider handballs got some decent to turn to just especially like in the start getting through the field when it's really tight getting around some some some Rivals and if it's too wide you just don't make it around anymore. So right now I can I we are riding now here, a 70 CM wide handlebar. Gives you also a good opportunity for the cockpit. Have a nice setup. And that's what I'm writing now, but on my trail bike, Andy bag or whatever, I have even a wider and bar that gives you a better handling, but in Cross Country racing at too wide, so I hope that was helpful. See you out there."
I start 40 minutes before the race by riding on the road or where possible close to the race. I do some short sprints, no more than 12 seconds, to warm up my muscles, breathing and arms. About 20 minutes before the start, I line up for the race. Depending on the weather, I may stay in a warmer or cooler place longer, or take an ice bath. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to find their best warm up routine. Transcript: "How to warm up for XC race? So I can tell you how I do it. Mostly, I start 40 minutes before the start. I go riding on the road or where it's possible close to the race. I also quite enjoy to ride the course if it's open. So you also get the feeling for the track again. So 40 minutes before the start, I go riding. I do some short sprints, but really short ones, not over 12 seconds, just to warm up your muscles, but also your breathing and your arms. And then about 20 minutes before the start, we need to line up. So that means it's about 20 minutes warm up. I wouldn't do too long. It doesn't make sense to do an hour. Some people do the really long warm ups. But I don't think that's really what you need. You just need to warm up your muscles and not making it too long. It depends also, a bit about the weather. So if it's really bad weather, cold, I actually prefer to stay in the warm a bit longer and do a shorter warm up and then try to line up as short as possible before the race. And also in really hot conditions, I try to stay in a cool place as long as I can. Sometimes even, I still take an ice bath and then just as well, a short warm up. But you also need to find out a bit what works for you. Try out different things. Make you some notes, what worked, what not. And then you will for sure find the best warm up for yourself."