Photo Story: Tomas Slavik Shares the Difficulties of Pre-Season Training in Lockdown & 2021 Plans

May 3, 2021
by Tomas Slavik  

My Winter preparations for the upcoming 2021 season in Europe were really affected by Covid19 and every rider had to deal with it differently. It was a really unusual situation and wanted to show you how I have been dealing with this situation. Together with photographer Jakub Sedivy, we created this photo story.

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This year has been different in many ways. Races and flights were delayed or cancelled and traveling to races made unviable or downright impossible. The pandemic hit especially hard in the Czech Republic during the winter, limiting travel and restricting social contact to an absolute minimum.


For the last 8 years, I have spent most of the winter in South America training and racing. This time I had to stay home and almost forgot how long the winter here in the Czech Republic is, but at the same time how beautiful it is. I was doing various different activities like XC skiing, Alpine skiing and non-stop shovelling snow hahaha….but at the same time I tried to be on my bike as much as possible in lower parts of Czech. It’s been really different than my usual winter, but it was also good to be home for a bit.



I live one hour north from Prague in the mountains in a tiny village called Milire where the trails start just a few metres from my doorstep. It’s within 10 min to get to my 4X track and Jested ski resort with lift and several DH tracks. The MTB infrastructure here is, I would say, the strongest in the Czech Republic and the views, countryside and options are just limitless…and that’s the reasons why I live here now.


I was used to training in the best gym in the area called CardioFitness which has the best setups for what I need, but it was closed the whole winter. So I decided to build up my own little gym in my garage and it did the job! I did all my gym routines there and was able to stick to my training program without any changes. I just missed the atmosphere in the gym and training buddies… There is no substitute for that.


You know, our performance is many puzzles to make a final picture. We are sometimes getting into stereotypes and honestly, all new stuff is usually a benefit and helps you at the end. XC skiing is really cool for training intervals, race simulations and basic endurance…and I was surprised it’s really fun! I have started mid-January and until the end of March I have done over 800km and I’m sure it will affect my performance.

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Uncertain races is always a difficult thing. It’s hard to prepare and train for something where you have no idea if it’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen. A few months ago, it was really hard to know what’s about to happen, but now as races are coming closer it’s more clear and we can finally prepare for particular events like Crankworx, World Champs or 4X Pro Tour races.

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The uncertainty makes finding motivation the hardest part. I talked with many riders and we all struggle a bit to find motivation because it’s a really special situation. It’s very important to have a goal, without a goal or purpose it’s harder and harder to find motivation. Being able to give it all, every day, when no one is watching and supporting you, alone, locked in your gym, on your static bike when it’s snowing outside for 2 months. Sometimes it drove me crazy, but I’m still hungry and I want to be one of the best guys out there in what I do. This is my motivation. Hard work never lies…


I usually have 2 training sessions per day, early in the morning and late afternoon. That works the best for me. When it’s snow outside I’m spending more time in the gym and static bike as all facilities were closed this winter, but trying to be as much as possible on the bike outside in lower places or at the indoor track close to my home. As it’s getting warmer now, I’m finally spending more and more time on the bike doing what I love the most.



I have been doing my training programs on my own, I would say almost all the time, through my career because I studied training and diet in sports and it was my passion to plan all my routines. And seems like it worked pretty well haha! This year I started to work together with my close friend Robert Simecek. We grew up racing BMX from age of 5, then we both studied at the same university and I was by his side through his career, and he is still by my side through my career over 20 years. His training programs brought some fresh air into my routines and it works great!


I used to be really serious about nutrition back in the day and it really worked great. At the same time, it’s really hard to keep it 100% during all the travelling and rush around events that I came to a point where I’m trying to stick to basic things. I know what works for me and what doesn’t because we are all individuals, and our bodies don't work always the same. You will never see me eating burgers before events, but at the same time, you won’t see me with scale counting grams. Regarding my performance nutrition, I’m using Ryno Power supplements which really improved my training and race performance and made my regeneration way easier in between training/events which is so important with so many races in a year.

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When you have a 5 minute urban DH race coming up, you cannot prepare for a 1-minute 4X race. So I’m trying to focus always on a particular event and disciplines. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to keep it this way and you have to combine all disciplines as much as possible to be able to jump from one bike to another at the same weekend or same week. 



I also love to go trail riding! I’m going to ride trails on daily basis, for training or just for one lap to spin my legs. 3 years ago, I moved to a place where I built my house. It’s actually just a few metres from the start of my favourite area so this move made my life way easier.



Both my main bikes are full-suspension nowadays. The 4X bike is 130/130 very stiff, ultralight and super fast bike which I’m sometimes using for "easier" urban races where more pedalling is required. But you cannot go with a 4X bike for a serious urban event, you just can’t... Urban setup is way more similar to enduro, it’s built upon an enduro frame in my case with different parts like DH drivetrain, no dropper seat post and the biggest difference is in setting up your suspension which is way harder and faster with some other tuning changes.


Most people would say World Cup and Urban DH are very similar, but I would say it’s not. The length of the track is very similar which is around 3-5 minutes, and both are physically super demanding. But that’s it. Many pro DH guys were coming into urban races, but they didn't take the top spots and it’s the same reversed - you won’t see urban racers winning DH World Cup. Why? Because it’s really different and for every discipline you need a bit different skills, experiences and even small details are doing big differences in time. DH World Cup is also nowadays on another level and these guys focus just on DH and DH ONLY…and I absolutely understand it, because the level of racing there is just insane!


I’m coming from 4X background and there we were used to racing really gnarly World Cup tracks on hardtail bikes and even now we don't use much suspension. I’m just more familiar with less suspension where I can use my strengths because the enduro setup is a bit faster on the urban track in most cases. That's why I always choose enduro bike.

My favourite Urban DH event is definitely Red Bull Valparaiso Cerro Abajo in Chile. It’s the most legendary event with the longest history. The event is the most complex and prestigious urban event you can be part of. A really gnarly track with absolutely crazy features, the best riders in the world and wild fans around the track. If you race urban races Valpo is the one to win!


Urban racing is not for everyone. Once you make a mistake the consequences can be pretty bad with all the walls, fences and stairs around the track. And I feel like we are going more and more over the limit in races because everyone wants to win. That’s the moment where it becomes really dangerous. I’m trying to put as much effort as possible into pre-race preparations, I’m checking over and over again my GoPro and just study every piece of the track to be ready. Usually, it’s a one-day event with just a small amount of training runs, like 3 runs and then it’s race time.


Even when I was a little kid I loved to race in front of big crowds, and it was pushing me so much. Last year we raced Crankworx in Innsbruck, without spectators and I have to say it was hard for me to push myself to the limit. It was so different, and I didn't feel like I’m racing. I felt like I’m at a training session with the fastest guys out there, but we were actually racing. I missed fans around the track and I’m sure that it affects my performance.


JBC 4X Revelations is probably the biggest 4X event right now, which we started 8 years ago. I had a vision of a perfect 4X event with a huge track, gnarly features, big sideshow around it, live stream, with concerts and massive crowds having fun….just one big show. And I gotta say it worked out pretty well, in 2019 we had in 2 days attendance over 15,000 people which is such a great satisfaction for the hard work we put in. It’s the summer highlight for 4X racers, but at the same time, it’s a highlight for all the people living in this area who have nothing in common with bikes, which is great!


Last year was cancelled due to the pandemic, but this year we decided to organize the event no matter what, with fans or without fans just for TV and live stream. Right now, we are on a good way to have the event with a certain amount of spectators, but at this time no one can give you a 100% guarantee so we will wait and hope! It’s scheduled for 17.7.2021 and you can watch it live on our channels. 




MTB infrastructure in the area I live is really evolving and I’m happy to be part of it. It’s definitely more a project for the community. I love seeing little kids shredding, having fun and it really reminds me as I was as a kid…I would be so stoked to have facilities like this in my area. So the area where I live is becoming an MTB paradise with 4X tracks, DH tracks, pumptracks, trails and many more. At the same time, it creates also new options for racers for training without the need of travelling hours and hours a day.

I have built many trails, tracks and fun projects, but wouldn't call myself a professional in this. I have the vision and I can build it. I hate the process of paper works, grants, financing and so on. It’s not my job, it’s just my passion. I like to help the community and to create something cool. When I decide to change my track, I just go and do it. The same is with smaller projects like the last one we did in the village I live in just a few weeks ago. We decided one day with the owner of the land and a week after we were there with diggers and in one week it was all ready.




I’m having a plan of like 12 races in 2021. This weekend I’m off to Poland for an Urban DH race, the first race of the season after more than 6 months of not racing. The main events I’m focusing on are Crankworx Innsbruck mid-June, Crankworx Canada, JBC 4X Revelations and then World Champs in 4X in August. Let’s see how it's gonna work with all the restrictions and quarantines.


I’m always trying to give it my best even in these hard times. We all know what we need to do, and the question is what you were doing behind the closed door, alone… I’m sure some were working even harder than normal, and some were not working hard at all. The pandemic was having a different impact on everyone out there. It’s hard to stay motivated and keep out everything else around you when you are in the middle of it all. Let’s see, it’s soon game on and we will find out.


Photo credit: Jakub Sedivy


8 Comments

  • 6 0
 In Urban DH he is a legend. Always see him in my head on this yellow Ghost bike with Red Bull helmet. Great athlete!!!
  • 3 0
 Its fair to say that COVID and lockdown have been so difficult for so many people.
Good luck to all of the racers and coping with the challenges they have faced.
A few have managed to travel (by the looks of their Instagram).

Its a mad new world out there just now, keeping all of us on out toes.
Stay safe everyone as lockdowns ease in some countries whilst others are in a very dark place.
  • 3 0
 Great work on the article! I have learned a few Czech words...let me se...Vole, prsi! Hele, vole, podej mi pivo! I am still learning.
  • 1 0
 haha seems like you had great teachers. We drink a lot of pivo Big Grin
  • 2 0
 I preferred him in his 4X past.... The same as Michal Marosi, owner of the best pass ever on a 4X track !!!!!
  • 1 0
 Nice work on the article man, the previous year must have changed a lot of pro rider's lives! Good luck with everything, especially racing ! Cau
  • 1 0
 "I used to be really serious about nutrition back in the day and it really worked great. "(C) under the photo with open can of red bull ;

Otherwise interesting read
  • 2 0
 Great article Smile

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