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Purpose:

Given the paucity of research on pacing strategies during competitive events, this study examined changes in dynamic high-resolution performance parameters to analyze pacing profiles during a multiple-lap mountain-bike race over variable terrain.

Methods:

A global-positioning-system (GPS) unit (Garmin, Edge 305, USA) recorded velocity (m/s), distance (m), elevation (m), and heart rate at 1 Hz from 6 mountain-bike riders (mean ± SD age = 27.2 ± 5.0 y, stature = 176.8 ± 8.1 cm, mass = 76.3 ± 11.7 kg, VO2max = 55.1 ± 6.0 mL · kg−1 . min−1) competing in a multilap race. Lap-by-lap (interlap) pacing was analyzed using a 1-way ANOVA for mean time and mean velocity. Velocity data were averaged every 100 m and plotted against race distance and elevation to observe the presence of intralap variation.

Results:

There was no significant difference in lap times (P = .99) or lap velocity (P = .65) across the 5 laps. Within each lap, a high degree of oscillation in velocity was observed, which broadly reflected changes in terrain, but high-resolution data demonstrated additional nonmonotonic variation not related to terrain.

Conclusion:

Participants adopted an even pace strategy across the 5 laps despite rapid adjustments in velocity during each lap. While topographical and technical variations of the course accounted for some of the variability in velocity, the additional rapid adjustments in velocity may be associated with dynamic regulation of self-paced exercise.

Martin, Lambeth-Mansell, and St Clair Gibson are with the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK. Beretta-Azevedo is with the School of Health and Social Care, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK. Holmes is with the Cardiff School of Sport, University Wales Institute Cardiff, Cardiff, UK. Wright is with the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.