Ride With a Kid and You'll Remember to Ride Like a Kid. Always Learning!
On the ride with juniors this morning I realized once again that most riders are in a constant cycle of hard training. Traditionally cyclists lighten the gears, work on cadence and pack riding skills, and pacelines. But, all these traditions have seemed to disappear into a haze of big gear mashing and hammering down the road. It seems that we have lost a little of the nuances of bicycle training.
I had a small juniors group out on the road today along with a nice sized contingent of newer riders tagging along who had never had the pleasure of riding in a really organized group, and they were blown away. They found out, with a good deal of coaching from me today, about wind direction and rotating the effort at the front of the group, and that they were able to go faster than they every had gone in a group with less effort. I 'taught' them the beauty of tight formations, taking short effective pulls, orchestrating precise exchanges at the lead in the group, and basic paceline etiquette. By the end of the session, we were blasting up the road 3-5 miles faster than most could average in their normal groups. One rider, in fact, commented "this is like what I see in the Tour de France". My answer: 'yep, keep pedaling', it's almost your turn'. I think that these riders had a revelation today and it was a simple one. "You have to practice the instrument, before you become a virtuoso"
Well, Off season is here and it's time to 'ride'. In this tense the word, ride doesn't mean ride like you did during the training season, ride to become a faster. But, rather, ride to become a better and more sound rider for the upcoming season.
C3 adivce column:
Get like minded people around you that want to work on the same things. You can do this stuff in the 'chain gang'. They are too busy mashing gear and trying to win the Tour de Hempsted. Work as a group during the winter.
Traditionally, in the winter we would ride mainly in small chainring for leg speed and cadence work. Staying around 100-105 rpm. We would get in some 'saucy' small gear sprints during the ride and we would take note of the wind and do EVERY conceivable version of a paceline. Find people who want to improve their leg speed and pick one or two rides a month through the winter to spin fast for the whole ride.
Practice short effective pulls and share the work during these rides. And, research the different formations for pacelines and use them. But, be careful to stay safe on the roads. Long echelon pacelines don't work on Texas roads unless the road is free of vehicular traffic.
Lastly, make sure you are giving your brain a break too this winter. Remember that childlike enthusiasm that we all have for riding and give yourself a break from hammering up the road every ride. Make sure you are having fun, every ride!
Live Long and Ride,