It’s a slightly odd title for an article and doesn't really hint at the topic enclosed but once you read it you will understand just why I chose it!
You may recall recently (see blog post here) that I listed my top 10 training tips and that the #1 was having a purpose for each training session. Well today’s article goes one step (and maybe more) behind this to answer just why we do the specific types of training sessions.
Now the subject matter here can get heavy, pretty quickly and I could actually write a whole book on it (others have!). My aim here is to cut through as much of the mumbo jumbo as possible and just lay it out as simple as possible. With that in mind I am going to kick things off with a phrase that summarises the entire article, “fitness is in the muscles, not the cardiovascular system”. This is a phrase I came across some time ago and it summed up my thinking quite nicely.
One of the most intriguing aspects about bike racing is that the outcome is dependant on the personalities of the individual riders.
Timid riders usually sit back and race reactively, while confident (even over confident) riders will be more aggressive. Patient riders are usually also confident and when it’s time to act they do so decisively.
Knowing what type of person someone is can help you determine what their race tactics will be and this can provide a valuable insight when developing your own race tactics. However, you also need to consider what type of person you are so you can develop your own personal ‘race winning strategy’.
One of the things that puzzles me the most when I rock up to a time trial, especially a significant one, is the lack of disc wheels on bikes.
At club level you could be forgiven, especially in Canberra where time trials are few and far between, as the disc is not a cheap bit of equipment. On average you would be lucky to get to use it three of four times a year. At over a thousand (and sometimes over two) dollars a pop, that equates to $250+ per ride for the year! Even over a few years, maybe say 10-15 races, that’s still pretty expensive – more than the race entry fees themselves.
But costs aside there are a range of reasons that are often cited to justify not riding a disc, even when the rider has one available. It’s too windy. The course is too hilly. It’s heavy. I am too small and not strong enough to push it. These are the most common but in reality you should really be using a disc in 99% of cases.
Here is why.
Previously I have posted an article which listed my four key training principles. The first one of these was ‘Correct Intensity’. Whilst it appears quite simple on the surface, this training principle can in fact be the hardest to get right. Just knowing what the intensity of your ride is supposed to be isn’t enough to ensure that it meets it’s goal and even then doing the ride at what you think is the right pace doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be.
To illustrate this I have prepared a little case study of three ride files, all with the same purpose – Aerobic development through time spent in the E1 and E2 zones.
There is an old saying that racing is the best form of training. However like many old adages this is only true some of the time. Specifically for cycling it mainly holds true as you get closer to your target race and then usually when the format and course for the race suitably replicates the demands you expect to encounter during your main event. At other times racing serves different purposes, for example allowing you to hone your race craft and tactics. At other times racing can be one of the worst types of training. If you want to know why, read on.
There were some ‘interesting’ happenings at this mornings Stage 1 Individual Time Trial for the National Capital Tour. This race is a part of Cycling Australia’s National Road Series (NRS), so one of the premier races in the country this year. However, as will all new events there can be teething problems but this morning’s issues were a little out of the ordinary and lead to some ‘interesting’ outcomes.
Without going into too much details, there was a traffic accident that lead to problems getting the course properly marked and marshals in place. As a possible result of this a number of riders went off course and lost valuable time. The end result was that a decision was made to nullify the times for GC and everyone would start stage 2 on equal time. Some people will question whether that is a fair decision and while I have my own opinion, the purpose of this ‘brief’ post is to draw your attention to a different fact. One that is paramount in success in any racing and that’s the importance of knowing the course.
For this morning’s race. It was a NRS race will the countries top riders. Now while some of these riders are still developing and finding their feet at this level, detailed course information is provided online well in advance of race day. Cycling Australia, race organisers and Cycling Profiles all do a fantastic job of providing this information and they do if for one reason – so that everyone knows where to go!
As a coach I make it a point of ensuring all my riders know the course and when I race I make it my personal responsibility for knowing the route. Far too often I have encountered marshals that are either not in place, not providing an indication of the route or just plain don’t know what’s going on. So, I learnt my lesson long ago, but for today – for all those riders that got lucky with the decision to annul the race times, I hope they take a moment to consider whether they well and truly studied the course before hand and whether next time they would pay more attention to the maps that are provided.
It’s worth remembering that had this been a national championship or perhaps another significant event then a rider who ‘just happened to go off course’ would have to live with their additional time, or worse a disqualification.
So, next time you have a time trial (or even a road race on an unfamiliar course) check out the race maps that are provided. Have a printed copy with you on race day and study it in detail. If you truly care about your results then care about the course!
Nb: I am aware of several instances today where traffic on course played a major role in a rider either being lead off course or from being prevented from following the course proper. Those riders will know who they are and obviously my comments above do not apply to them
Previously I have written (here and here) of the importance of the mental skills for riders and their contribution to success in cycling. This article is a follow up post to these topics and it’s perhaps one of the most important articles I have written on this site as it touches at the very heart a riders subconscious motivation when racing and training – which in turn affects overall performance and results.
The terms in the title refer to two important topics in sports psychology. Self-handicapping is the conscious or sub-conscious practise of placing oneself in a situation where the lack of results will not negatively impact self image. It also includes creating or claiming obstacles prevented results. There are many examples of this in cycling. One of the most common (and obvious) is race grades. A ride will often race a grade above their ability so that when they fail to finish they can always save face by saying they were beaten by better riders – after all its better to get dropped and DNF from A grade than B grade, right (?). Another is poor food intake or hydration where riders conveniently ‘forget’ to eat sufficient food or drink sufficiently fluids thus robbing themselves of a chance at success.
Externalisation and Internalisation are the two ways that we look at the ‘cause and effect’ relationship within the performance paradigm. Riders who tend towards externalisation always look to blame someone or something else for their poor results and as such deprive themselves of a learning opportunity (see ‘should have, would have, could have’ for examples). Riders who internalise tend towards analysing their own actions to determine whether they could have done something differently to change the result and as such they are always providing a path to improving their results.
The remainder of this article will look at these concepts in a little more detail, with an emphasis on helping you identify whether you are guilty of self-handicapping and whether you tend towards externalisation or internalisation.
Do you want to improve your crit racing skills and performance ahead of the summer criterium series?
After the success of the TT Masterclass session last week we are providing the perfect opportunity to develop your crit skills with a Crit Racing Masterclass session on Sun 20th October.
Two sessions are being offered, with a ‘women’s only’ session at 10:30 and an ‘open’ session at 1pm
Click the banner below to view more information on the Crit Racing Masterclass sessions and to reserve your place.
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