Saturday, November 10, 2012

winter world champions

By following pros on the twitter the last week or so has seen many of them returning to winter training. Some started a few weeks ago such as Mark Renshaw, he actually started training for the 2013 season when the 2012 one was still under way with the Tour Of Beijing but he is obviously targeting the Tour Down Under next January but the vast majority of pros enjoyed resting up for the month of October and once the 1st of November rolled around they dusted off the training bike and commenced the 2013 season. A lot of these pros would be shocked to find out that many Irish amateurs are way ahead of them in the their training for 2013 the fabled winter world champion is already 2 months into his 2013 training and at the moment is clocking up 10 hours plus on the bike a week while holding down a full time job. Those that are new to cycling (and there are many) may ask what is a “winter world champion” when they hear the expression.

The WWC is usually an A4 or an A3 who had a disappointing 2012 season and called a halt to his own season just as the Tour De France got underway. He spent July and August enjoying life going to the pub eating what he wanted and resolving to himself with every pint to enjoy it as 2013 would be his year he would get really serious over the winter and he would dominate the local club league next June and July.

While the pros were preparing for the world championships in early September our WWC would be dragging the bike out from the shed and because he was taking it seriously this year he would decide to train on his racing bike. He decided to jump straight back into it and did 60 miles with the local group on his first Sunday back, cracked 15 miles from home but considered it a good day out and was happy that he jumped in at the deep end as he needed to do that to have a good 2013. This was a pattern repeated for September and October, only for the volume to be increased in October, our WWC is now doing 2 nights on the turbo 2 hours on his own on a Saturday and 3 hours with the local group on a Sunday and comfortably winning the sprint into town at the end of the spin. He is now starting to show his WWC legs. Our WWC knows he needs to up his game it’s one thing giving guys who bought a bike and a Team Sky jersey on the bike to work scheme in July a hard time but he knows that soon the more serious A1 and A2 riders who have rode the rás and will be riding it again in 2013 will be making an appearance in the group, he needs to show these guys that he is going to be a vastly improved cyclist in 2013, so our WWC head’s to his local bike shop to buy the best set of lights they have, he has to train at night to keep the edge over the rest of the group.
So November rolls around and he is doing 2 hours on a Tuesday and Thursday night, 3 hours on a Saturday morning and 4 hours with the group on a Sunday. Sunday fills him with pride as the local Rás riders comment on how well he is going, he is taking long hard turns at the front of the group and is not winning the sprint into town any more he is attacking 3 miles out the road just to be sure.

All of the above may be funny, but it’s funny because its true it happens in every training group in the country. Training and especially a training programme if there is one in place will be based on gradually increasing the volume of training and then when the racing season comes closer including intensity. If 4 hours is being completed as your Sunday spin in November do you up that to 5 hours in December and 6 in January? There won’t be enough hours of daylight by the time the season rolls around. There are approximately 16 weeks until the season starts with the Lacey Cup in Tralee, the objective of our fictional WWC is his local league in June/July that’s at least 28 weeks away. It's a long way from when local greats such as the late Bobby Power used to start training on St Stephens day, but back then the pros would only showup at the first race of the season with a couple of thousand km in their legs, us amateurs are becoming "victims" of the pros starting their year earlier and earlier.

 I see this every years guys train like they are a pro targeting the Tour Of Qatar over the winter and haven’t a leg come April and their moral is on the floor in May when they realise they haven’t the legs to compete in the upcoming league, they desperately try different training in May in the hope of coming good but are crushed when the guys they hammered on the Sunday spin from November to January and killing them when the local bragging rights are up for grabs.

So at this time of year take a chill pill if your goal is the Lacey Cup or Rás Mumhan your training will need to be structured and well planned out but if you want to enjoy your bike and racing next summer when the weather is good relax and reassess your training. Pick the date you want to have your best form and work back from that, hire a coach or talk to the more experienced riders in your group on a Sunday instead of tearing the legs off them. Enjoy your cycling at this time of year don’t fall into the trap of becoming the local Winter World Champion