The Emotional roller-coaster that was the Rás

 

So last Sunday I set out on my 4th Rás as the least prepared rider in the field in terms of training and racing.

I knew it would be above all a real mental challenge and it sure was.

As you guys know too well cycling is about suffering – you train you suffer you get better you suffer more.

I know how to suffer but I used to suffer to get results.

This week was about suffering to finish – a completely different ball game.

The last time I rode the Rás with Rapha Condor I rode at the front and got the respect of the other big teams.

This year to be at the front you had to earn it your spot and you didn’t get that respect handed to you.

Stage 1 was awful – in the last few months I’ve worked with a few people to help my fears of descending and crashing after my concussion episodes and it really was a hurdle for me this week.

The fast start and wet roads was a real test to settle in and a crash in the bunch 20k into the stage didn’t help – I didn’t come down but a riders spoke tore the boa’s off my shoes and I needed a shoe change.

The bunch lined out in a cross wind from Summerhill to Trim and I was getting a real fisting trying to regain contact with the bunch after changing my right shoe.

I was thinking ‘what the fuck am I doing here I’m gone 50 k into stage one’!

Anyway I got back to the bunch at the foot of the first climb of the week after a painful chase and long story short finished in a small group after getting dropped with about 20 k to go.

Locking up with cramps already I was thinking the 4 days might even be too much.

Stage two had no bad luck at all but I cramped all day long – just the speed and having finished my first race in two years the day before my body was in total shock.

Stage 3 wasn’t a hard day on paper terrain wise but I knew the wind and the distance being 180 k would be a test for me.

I found it the hardest stage – emotionally and physically.

I fell asleep on my bed with my kit on after the stage.

Once I made it through the Mamore mountain stage I knew I’d finish the race and by that stage I became more confident moving around the bunch again.

It’s not confidence in my own ability I was afraid of it was more of the fact that I had 100 guys in front of my doing 50 kph on a country road and that thought of one thing going wrong and the subsequent repercussions.

While the week was tough the journey and lessons I learned mostly about myself where huge.

Planet X Carnac the team I rode for managed by former Pro and family friend Morgan Fox was a pleasure to be part of.

They without doubt had one of the best set ups in the race and they made the week a lot easier than it would have been anywhere else.

I genuinely owe getting around the Rás in my condition to the team and staff.

They truly are a terrific bunch of people and it was a week and experience I’ll never forget.

Would I do it again knowing what I went through?

Not a fucking chance.

Am I glad I did it?

Absolutely!

I know what you need to get around the Rás and the decision to line up at Dublin Castle on stage 1 shouldn’t be taken lightly – its tough, stressful and proper dangerous – but a week you’ll never forget.

I’ll be enjoying the café spins for the next while that’s for sure!

Aaron

The worst ‘cyclist’ can be the best rider

 

I was once told to “get better at doing f*#k all”. To be honest that scared me a little. I was never one to do nothing. After training I was always loved going out with friends, play football etc. I never let cycling stop me from doing other things I wanted to do.

However, the mentality in pro cycling is that a cyclist must: train, rest, recover and repeat. After training cyclists are expected/believed to simply return to the couch and let the body recover from the stress it has just been put under in order to prepare for the upcoming training sessions or races. Any other activity would just hinder your performance.

Here lies the difference between a good and a bad cyclist.

‘Good’ cyclists/pros are kings of doing ‘f*#k all’. They can sleep ten hours a night and then go for a nap during the day too. They get their training done and live like a sloth for the rest of the day. They never make any swift movements in an effort to save as much energy as possible.

Sounds like the dream doesn’t it? Trust me, it doesn’t take long before that starts to get boring!

‘Bad’ cyclists/pros can never sit still. They never give themselves a chance to recover and are forever on the go.

Never recovering fully is obviously the main downfall of a ‘bad’ cyclist/pro that can’t do ‘f*#k all’. However, there are a number of advantages:

They tend not to be as strict on their diet as they tend to burn more calories as they carry out their additional activities throughout the day. They can avoid the salad and crab stick diet (as adopted by Buggle in his pro days) and swap it for the pastry diet (as adopted by Walsh in his pro days). As a result they can keep the weight down just as easily.

One of the main points is that staying active allows a ‘bad’ cyclist/pro to have peace of mind. People that can’t live a sloth life, shouldn’t! If you’re an active person, be active.

Obviously the majority of cyclists aren’t pros or have the time to sit around and do nothing like these ‘good’ cyclists/pros. The majority of cyclist have the real world to contend with; strenuous job, family, social life etc.

All of these things cause stress in the body whether that is physical or mental. Training hard on the bike or stressing about work or studying for exams, all play the same effect in fatiguing the body.

All of these extra ‘activities’ prevent the everyday person from doing ‘f*#k all’, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If a person can manage this stress, it won’t prevent them from become great bike riders. If they can deal with all of these stresses in a controlled way, come race day if they have had an opportunity to get some rest they will be very capable of getting great results. The pain/stress experienced during the race, won’t be half as bad as a tough day in work topped with an interval session.

A good example of this is the Ras. This is one of the only races in the world in which pros and amateurs compete together. The amateurs in this race balance work, training, family, college etc. and still manage to compete against professionals. They obviously don’t do the same hours as the pros do but their bodies can deal with the stress of racing and allow them to compete.

All of this is what A1 Coaching has always preached. Any everyday person can compete at a very high level in this sport. With some very carefully planned out training it is more than doable and this is where a coach is invaluable. Having a scientific approach and often just a second opinion on your training can allow any cyclist to go a long way in this sport.

Some might not meet the critera of ‘all cyclists have to be good at doing f*#k all’ but that won’t prevent them from becoming great bike riders.

 

 

Food alternatives

 

Energy food suppliers provide products that serve their purpose in cycling. Gels, bars, energy drinks and recovery drinks are all conveniently packaged for ease of use during exercise and do what they say on the tin: provide energy or help you recover.

However, there are a few downsides to these products. They are made to last, they contain ingredients that sound like they belong in food made for space travel. ‘E’ numbers, flavouring, preservatives etc. are contained within the product to make it taste the way you expect and also preserve it to allow it to have a long shelf life.

Basically these products are made to fit a wide variety of people, not poison you, be convenient and as cheap as possible.

As I said these products do serve a purpose, but you often hear of them causing stomach problems. In addition, they will rarely be made to fit any dietary requirements you have. If you have the time available it is just as easy to make your own food and drinks that will satisfy you and any requirements you have e.g high or low GI, low/high fat etc.

Energy foods/drinks tend to have very simple ingredients so they can be digested as easy as possible and as a result as very simple to throw together the day before a race, sportive or training.

Energy Drinks

These are some of the simplest products to replicate at home. The main ingredient contained in an energy drink that is responsible for providing energy is simple sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides) such as fructose or sucrose. These are quickly absorbed by the body to provide energy for the muscles.

Commercial products such as powders will generally contain artificial colours, flavourings and emulsifiers to help them mix with water.

The homemade solution is very simple. Water mixed with a fruit juice of your choice in a 3:1 ratio or a ratio that satisfies your taste. Fruit juices primarily contain simple sugars but will also contain a number of vitamins or minerals that will provide additional benefits. An example of this is pineapple juice contains bromelain which is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help resolve respiratory issues.

Adding a pinch of salt can add an isotonic element that will help maintain the fluid balance in the body and prevent cramp.

Recovery drinks

Protein powders were once a by-product of the food industry. It originates from milk used for cheese. Whey that is separated from the curd in cheese making was once used for animal feed (some food science for you). However, when dried I can be sold as an easily digestible protein in powder form and used by athletes as a protein supplement.

Recovery drinks for cyclist will contain whey as well as a carbohydrate component to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle fibres. The carbohydrate to protein ratio is generally 3-4:1. This ratio is contained in chocolate milk with the added benefits of containing a number of additional minerals and vitamins that will improve your health.

Bars

Personally I don’t really enjoy the taste of commercial energy bars. They tend to taste artificial as they are filled with artificial ingredients to make them look and taste a certain way. As homemade products aren’t made to last months they will generally taste better and the look will depend on your cooking skills.

Look up any energy bar recipe online and you will find endless amounts of ingredient options, all of which produce a bar that is far most satisfying than commercial ones.

Even at a professional level you will always see riders opting for natural/homemade options such as rice cakes in races and training.

The other benefit of this option is that it is completely customisable. Gluten free, high fat, low sugar etc. are all easily made by varying the ingredients.

Gels

Gels are one of the products that are hard to replace. They serve their purpose very well and are hard to replicate at home. The sugar and water mix often with caffeine are purpose built for giving you a kick in closing kilometres of a race.

There is one alternative available that is probably more suited to be used out training. Fruit compotes, otherwise known as baby food are simply blended fruit. As they are blened most of th fibre is removed and it allows the sugar to be broken down quickly to provide a quick hit of energy, similar to a gel.

 

Like I said commercial energy products serve their purpose. They are convenient and get the job done. Homemade or natural options tend to be better for your health but do require so time to put together.

 

 

Classy cyclist 

 

Lukas Pöstlberger, as of now most of us will think of him as the winner of the first stage of the 2017 Giro D’Italia. Personally, the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear that name is ‘one of the classiest cyclists I’ve ever seen’.

Pöstlberger won the 2015 An Post Ras, my first Ras. Everything that man did just oozed class. He never seemed to be under pressure, he never lost his temper, he was respectful to everyone and just came across as a nice guy in every interview he did. It was hard not to like him.

I’m not sure if class comes with age, experience or it’s something you’re born with. Unfortunately not everyone has it; I’ll admit that includes me! Most of us have that moment during a race when we’ll get a bit hot headed or do something stupid that you will immediately regret after.

The best we can do is take note of what the classy riders do and apply it as best week can. In my time I’ve see some classy moves and try to apply them as much as I can in an effort to be less of a gobshite in the bunch.

 

Helping Hand

Laying a hand on another rider is rarely a good idea. It’s often unsafe or unwanted. However, have you ever been in that position when you can’t close the final few meters to the wheel on front of you? I think we all have. If you’re ever in the position that you are strong enough and sitting behind a rider struggling to close a small gap a gentle push to help them close the last few meters will gain the respect of many!

Litter Bug

We see the pro’s doing it on TV at pretty much every race; throwing bidons and empty wrappers away without a care in the world. This is one of the times the ‘do what the good lads do’ rule doesn’t apply.

However, I’ve recently seen a few pros stuff their wrappers in the rails of their saddles instead of littering. Now that has class written all over it!

As a wise man once said “if you can take it out of your pocket, you can put it back in”. At an amateur level its often the race organisers that have to deal with the consequences of littering during a race, so avoid it as much as possible.

The wave

No matter how much you try to avoid it, there will always be a bit of rough and tumble in cycling. 200 riders are always aiming to be at the front. Bumping into other riders is almost guaranteed during a race and how a rider deals with that says it all. If you do receive a bump, it’s unlikely that it was intentional so there is no reason to react.  If you accidentally bump someone else, a slight apologetic wave behind will immediately defuse the situation and make sure you don’t make any enemies in the bunch.

If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all

Bike races can be frustrating. Often nothing goes your way; you can’t get in the breakaway, you get boxed in in a sprint etc.

No matter what happens keeping your cool is essential. A common occurrence in Irish racing is a rider shouting another to ride harder in a breakaway. Nine times out of ten they physically cant and shouting will do nothing but put you in their bad books.

Stay classy and if you want to say anything tell them to hang in and do a turn when they can.

It’s nice to be nice

Racing rarely goes to plan. You can lose a race over a bike throw, a mechanical, someone letting a wheel go etc. But being gracious in defeat goes a long way. Congratulating someone that has just beaten you fair is a hard pill to swallow but trust me making friends instead of enemies in this sport will go a long way.

 

We all do this sport because we enjoy it. Making an effort to be a respectful and classy bike rider will go a long way in making sure we all enjoy the sport a little bit more.

Stay classy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jump From A3 To A1

The Jump – Guest Blog From Cathal Keane – Breslin

I rode my first Shay Elliot yesterday, and it was actually my first race at A2 as well. I though having come up through A4 and A3 over the last season and a half that I had a fair idea of what to expect. Bike racing is bike racing, and A2/A1 will just be faster, longer and all around harder. However I didn’t quite realise the jump!

It was a long race at 165km, and I knew I wasn’t going to last past the 100km mark, so my plan was to go for the prime in the first 12km, “secure” the sprint jersey, and settle back into the bunch. What actually happened was… We hit the dual carriageway and the pace sored. It was as if someone had let a load of cows out into the big field after spending winter in the shed, there were lads everywhere. They were lined out 40 long tipping at 55/60kph and attacks flying left right and centre.

I gave the prime a crack 

I floored it up the road on whatever wheel was in front of me. I was hurting big time but it wouldn’t last long. I looked down at my Garmin, we had already gone past 13km but there was no sign of the prime. By the time we got to about 16km the prime was in sight but I was not, I was gonzo!

We got onto the country roads then, good roads in fairness but with the bunch flying along at 50kph for the next 40 mins my legs were cooked! I felt that I was at terminal velocity – you know when you’re pushing way harder on the pedals than you’re making forward progress? It was one of those moments. We hit the first climb and I fell like a stone and clean out the back of the bunch. I kept going, hoping that everyone else found it just as hard and I might real them back in, but NOPE!

The marshals were rolling from junction to junction and when I and 3 others arrived at a junction there wasn’t a marshal to be seen, so we ended up getting lost. We back tracked and hid in a drive way until the bunch was passing again. We jumped back in, in the hope that we could just sit at the back and ride to the end without disturbing any of the racing.

I got dropped again

At that same climb on the second loop… then as I was listening to a lad shouting directions at me I road into a hedge… that was a sign it was time to call it a day. I skipped a lap of the 21km loop and headed up to the top of the Glenmalure climb, and waited for the bunch to come over.

So my take away is that I completely underestimated the speed and lack of recovery there is in A2/A1 racing… and I’ll take away some funny stories, even if they are just me laughing at myself.

I’ll need to put in some serious work over the next while if I’m not to repeat a similar performance in Donegal in June.

Wish me luck!

Cathal Keane – Breslin

Shay Elliott Memorial Race

Guest Blog From Timmy O’Regan

So here I am after 2 weeks off coaching.

Thanks to Ryan and the lads at A1coaching for facilitating the break, the heads gone a bit and work/travelling has interrupted the training , I wasn’t able to follow the plan accordingly, so I took stock of what I had in the legs and asked for a break.

Plus not doing the Ras has impacted the head too; all in all the early season hasn’t gone as planned.

Some things had gone wrong and just needed to step back take a quick holiday to Belgium with Joanne, eat some frites, waffles A LOT, drink loadsa Beer, great beer, best beer in the world I reckon and just get the blowout out of the way. Visited Emilia (who I used to live with while racing there), Mark and Anne, I was delighted to give Emilia a surprise. Was nice to be back but a little sad especially since Harry (Her husband) is no longer with us (RIP).

Getting back into it now

Getting back into it now, carry about 5kgs which isn’t helping matters but il keep hammering myself and will see where we get, iv always had a good ability to suffer, but the extra weight is definitely holding me back.

So 2 races done at the weekend, and boy what a sufferfest, what I thought was an 80km park race turned to a 40km race. But it brought back memories of a Tuesday night from years ago, 7 yrs infact since my last park race!! Back then when I was less worried about crashingJ!

40km in the park wasn’t bad, except I made it rough, losing loadsa time on the corners and sprinting back up.. Disaster!! But all in good time and got some tips from Martin Gilbert and head came round near the end of the race and was fine. Lesson learnt and I just need to forget the past occurrences!!

Sunday.. THE BIG ONE!

Shay Elliott – Circa 170km!!

Plan – Help the lads get into the move!

Early on I hovered around the back, my legs were in absolute bits and I wasn’t at all comfortable, I have no idea why.

I settled after about an hour and soon made my way to the front, hitting the 3 X 20ish km laps was tough, enjoyed the bumpy section and short sharp technical downhill, wheels screeching and leaning right over the back of the bike to slow. I allowed myself slip back on the narrow roads and found it difficult to move up, so I couldn’t really help at all.

BUT THEN …

Unexpectedly seeing 3 riders come against us, and what happened next iv only ever seen once before, some slight drizzle, downhill, 3 riders approached, 1 of which fell towards ouyr group, bang, chaos, riders to the front, right left and rear just dropped. I feathered the brakes unclipped and waited to be rear ended, riders skidded by me and into other riders.. But no it never happened… I came to a stop, hopped off the bike, quick scan for the lads, nobody there and got going again waiting for a group to come along!

Ate and drank and now was time to get home. Survival mode, all I could think was thank god I can get into work in the morning.. And there it is.. The work factor, the stakes are higher now, I love racing but I love work and I don’t get paid to be absent!! So after Glenmalure, small group intact it was time to get home, I must have Sat on the front for the last 30km and just drove it steady to the line ensuring all riders behind were in tow and I got a nice workout. I was never so happy to get home, it was a bloody long day on the bike and I just wanted to be done with it.

Home, out for dinner and relaxed and here I am a day later, glad nobody was hurt and thankfully these big smashes don’t happen so often.

Until the next time.

Tim

 

 

 

How to say no to a race you’re not ready for!

Me in the Rás

Ok so I thought it was the right thing to do and inform everyone how I have ended up on the start list to do the Rás here in Ireland starting Sunday.

For those of you who know me you will be aware that I haven’t raced this season.

I’ve been riding my bike for 8 – 10 hours a week for the last 2 months but just from a lifestyle/enjoyment point of view.

Prior to that it was a lot of gym work alongside my studies.

I’ve felt that other areas needed work and racing just hasn’t been in the mix.

Well… Until I got drunk at a family wedding last weekend.

A family friend and our current bike sponsor at Planet X Ireland Morgan Fox was at the wedding.

Morgan will lead the planet X Carnac team at this years Rás and halfway through the night he mentioned he was stuck for a rider for at least 4 days.

I deliberated for a few hours…

The alcohol certainly didn’t help my decision-making skills and I eventually said ‘yes fuck it, I’ll do it’.

So the Shay Elliott (a hard hilly race in the Wicklow mountains) will be my first race of the year and I start out in the Rás next Sunday as my second.

What the hell was I thinking!

I’ve ridden with Anthony all year and I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not so good at – which is pretty much the opposite to his attributes.

It’s no surprise though – fatigue resistance comes with training through fatigue!

Last time I rode the Rás I targeted a podium ride and was in that position until I crashed out.

Back then I wasn’t a climber by nature but I was somewhere around the 73 – 75 kg mark and had a threshold in the very high 300’s.

I’m now 83 kg and have a lesser threshold by a long margin so you can get a picture of how the climbs are going to be this year.

So lets just say I’m not really prepared for something like the Rás – something shorter and much flatter maybe – but not the Rás.

If you don’t believe me check Anto’s Vlog capturing my 21 different emotions on a hilly ride the other day…

Not looking great is it.

My head v’s legs

When you’ve ridden at a half decent level your mind plays tricks on you or you trick yourself to thinking you were the same rider as you were before…

This is not the case and I’m under no illusions of the absolute beating I will receive from lads that have trained all year.

You simply don’t get away with it if you don’t have the work done.

I have an old training diary that’s all hand written and before the Rás in 2013 I had written ‘the work is done you’ve nothing to worry about’.

Haha contrast that to this year ‘ you’ve nothing done and everything to worry about’…

Round up

Look I have no idea how my body will respond to the stress and I will continue to ride as long as can.

I haven’t felt the initial speed of a race in a while and I won’t lie I’m a little apprehensive about it when the flag drops next Sunday.

While it’s going to be torturous I’m there to enjoy it as I have done riding my bike the last few years.

If it gets passed that point I’ve no shame in holding my hand up and saying I didn’t put the work in to be here – but at the same time I’m not one to give up that easily.

I just want to clarify that as a coach what I’m about to do goes against everything I believe in and preach – so there’s never been a bigger case of ‘do as I say not as I do’.

Anyway 1 week until D-day – I shall keep you as informed as I can on my travels.

It’s a cruel sport and I’m a glutton for punishment.

Aaron B.

How many hours should an underage rider do per week?

A question I’ve often heard put to the A1 coaching team is ‘how many hours should an underage rider do per week?”
I’m sure there might be a scientific answer as to the optimum amount of hours that each age group should do and at what intensities to become the best cyclist they can possibly be. Obviously there are a huge amount of variables such as gender, level of development etc.
A good example of this is current professional rider for Cannondale Drapac, Ryan Mullen. I’ve raced with Ryan since I was underage.
I remember lining up at one of my first races and seeing Ryan on the start line. I was sure my Dad had entered me into the wrong race. Ryan was built like a 25 year old. He was probably close to 6 foot and had muscles on top of muscles.
Then there was me, I was small and let’s just say I was carrying a lot of puppy fat at that age!
Even though Ryan and I were the same age, I wouldn’t have been able to do half the training he was capable of doing, simply because my body hadn’t developed enough. Even up until second year junior I still hadn’t developed fully.
The question of ‘how much training did I do when I was underage versus how many hours did Ryan Mullen do when he was underage?’, probably has two very different answers. However I can almost guarantee there is one common denominator: we did as much as we enjoyed doing.
Personally I think that is the answer. There is no set number of hours or intervals. The most important thing at underage is that the kid builds a healthy relationship with the sport and enjoys every minute of it!
As a kid I never had any of the flash tech. I rode an aluminium bike with a basic Cateye computer (to brag out how many kilometres I did when I got home). There was no, intervals power meters, carbon fibre, aero helmets or flashy kit.
I rode the bike because I wanted to. I thought it was great fun and no matter how bad I was, it didn’t matter I just loved riding my bike around places most of my friends didn’t even know existed.
As a result I built up a really good relationship with cycling. It is my escape from the real world. It was a life saver during college exams as it was the perfect way to clear my head and relax. Generally when I go cycling I come home with a smile on my face… most of the time.
This relationship with cycling meant when things started to click and I started getting results in the sport, training was no chore. I loved going on my bike and training was rarely any problem. I was capable of training hard and enjoying it.
As a kid, hours on the bike don’t matter. Simply staying fit, healthy and happy will suffice. All kids should have an opportunity to try out any sport they are interested in. An underage cycling should be involved in other sports too. If anything they will act as a form of cross training to take the focus away from cycling and help them develop physically.
Look at Eddie Dunbar; could potentially have been a cross country runner or even our very own Anthony Walsh; played Football for Bohemian FC before cycling.
Build a good relationship with sport and a kids sporting future will be bright.
There’s no secret formula or training program, often it’s just a mentality!
Nicely
Lurky
Ps. If you haven’t checked out Buggles lastest Vlog here you go!
We both lash out some strength efforts on our favourite local hill.

Sprinting From Speed

It’s a Saturday morning and unfortunately I’m not on the A1CC ride today.

I’ve a wedding to go to this weekend so while the women are getting ready I thought why not type about cycling.

The topic of conversation in the A1 office at the moment is sprinting.

Slow twitch himself (Anthony) is even doing some sprint sessions thanks to the input of A1 coach Alan Davis.

Sure I’ve been telling him years but he won’t listen to me it had to come from an Aussie!

The Giro also kicked off on Friday with was meant to be a sprint finish but hey it didn’t happen and some part of me loves to see the sprinters getting mugged.

It was a super finish and pretty cool the Irish rider Bennett is rooming with the Maglia Rosa holder.

Anyway– Last week I did two different types of sprint sessions.

Session 1:

8-10 x 10 second standing starts.

Full gas team pursuit style start.

3-4 minutes recovery between each sprint.

Session two:

5 x 20 seconds sprinting off the wheel.

Anthony provided the wheel and I plan on getting a video of this shortly for our YouTube channel so keep an eye out.

So I get Anthony to hit it hard for about a kilometre and I stay aero behind him.

When I see the sign approx. 20 seconds away I come out of the wheel and hit it

(I always sprint for a marker on the road over using time)

Essentially it’s lead out practice.

Next I lead out Anthony and we repeat the process.

So what’s the difference between these two sprints?

Well I’m pretty poor at one in comparison to the other.

I can get from zero to 40-50 kph quite fast.. In other words my acceleration is good.

But going from 40 to 60kph certainly needs some work or in other words my top end speed is crap.

I just don’t have the speed in my legs, which makes sense, as I haven’t been racing all that much.

Do you find you can sprint kind of well out training but when it comes to a race you get pummelled in a big group finish?

Hey Presto!

Buggle’s here to help.

Here’s what I recommend…

Start doing sprints such as the one I described above with a teammate.

I used to do a lot of training alone but sprint sessions are really good to do with someone particularly if you’re close to each other in level or even if you’re not quite as good as the other rider – such as Anthony’s position!

If you train alone you can still do a lot to help it.

Find a fast section of road – ideally a strong tailwind or slight downhill section of road.

Hit it from a fast rolling start and try whip the gear up to speed rapidly – reaching in excess of 115-120 rpm if possible.

Back in the day I used to use a motorbike and some of the guys still do to set the speed to sprint off – mainly because I trained alone a lot of the time.

Coming to think about it – it’s no wonder I trained alone!

It could make all the difference in the finish of your races if you feel you’re just lacking that little extra bit.

Try it.

AB.

speed-wins-races

Power Doesn’t Win You Races, Speed Does

Hey lads so I’ve just got back to the A1 office after a tough session.

I’ve been on a spin with Lurky and we had some strength efforts to bang out.

My last blog on why we should include strength work in our programmes is worth checking out if you haven’t already done so.

Anyway I captured the whole day in a vlog if you’d like to see what we got up to – and that’s due out early next week on our YouTube channel and I’d love your feedback on it.

I’m trying my best to keep the Blogs/Vlogs on the same page as I find the two compliment each other quite well.

Power wins races… right?

As a former elite/professional cyclist and a now coach/sports scientist I’m very well aware of the necessity to concentrate on the fundamental physiological variables such as functional threshold and vo2 max for example.

Training these variables undoubtedly nets you the required fitness to get some results or simply improve performance and therefore can never be overlooked.

However, most riders believe watts to be the be all and end all of every cycling equation and through my own experience of riding at a decent level and through the analysis of thousands of power files…

It’s not power that wins races, it’s speed.

I can never get over the fact that most riders still believe that the rider with the highest power or power to weight ratio wins the race – this is simply not true.

To be clear we’re talking road races here.

To be honest it’s closer to being true at the top levels of the sport particularly in time trials than it is at a domestic level.

For example if you told me the watts you could do in a TT and I knew how you looked on a TT bike – I’d give you a pretty damn good guess at what time you’d cover a 25 mile TT in.

Road racing is a completely different ball game though.

There is a far more to road racing than simply power cadence and all the other various performance related variables.

These are not the only defining factors in your road race results – far from it in fact.

For example, there are a lot of riders on the scene that are far more bike fit than I am at the moment – better power to weight, better FTP.

You name it on paper – they win every time.

But no cockiness intended I’d beat a lot of these guys on race day.

Why might that be?

Knowing how to ride and read a race or in other words –race craft.

Race craft includes experience in making the right tactical decisions and the ability to cope under pressure asides from all the technical aspects such as holding position and riding in the bunch.

It’s a difficult balance, saving energy and being as efficient as you can while still staying in contention in a race.

We train everyday but all too often we come across athletes with all the attributes to win on paper but these internal factors let them down.

The old saying ‘if you’re going to be dumb you gotta be tough’ holds through here.

Unless you’re a pure animal – to win races or nail your targets in cycling you got to be wise about it.

We train all the time on the physical factors – threshold, speed vo2 max ect.

How often do you think about the tactical factors in races?

Some riders are very gifted at reading events tactically regardless of their physiological ability.

We all know that guy that makes the winning breakaway almost every week.

If you’re not good at this stuff and you want to win races you need to ask yourself a serious question…

How the hell do you expect it to get better if you don’t work on it?

1. What do the good lads do?

2. Ask the good lads what they do – most will be happy to answer your questions – I’d be shocked otherwise.

Seriously if you don’t know ask questions guys.

3. Watch cycling races and study this stuff like you would anything else you needed to learn.

4. Join a club league and try a tonne of new things there – apply what you learn.

5. Joining a club with a good amount of senior riders is very important in particular for the younger riders – we can’t advocate the importance of this enough.

Maybe it’s time to open your mind a little to the many other aspects of the sport that directly influence your race day performance.

Above all if you don’t know the answers ask questions and watch the best in the business.

Success leaves clues.

Up the road.