Our Club Coach – Dave Gomer has willingly agreed to answer all your training questions and the answers will be posted on this page of the site to help you and your fellow members. Please fill in the form below and Dave will post your answer on the web site normally within 48 hours, except when he is away winning medals at the World Masters Championships (2 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze) and other such pressing matters.
Hi Dave….how many recovery rides would you recommend in a race training program?
Recovery in cycling
Steve asks how many recovery rides should you do in a week. The answer of course varies as much as riders do, but recovery is a crucial part of the training programme. Continually building and working hard will very quickly destroy any progress you are making. The requirements vary with different programmes. If you are building step by step to a long term goal or if you are working at a level and maintaining that level and not increasing your work load recovery needs may be different. As well, each individual’s requirements vary.
Regardless of your programme, recovery is very important. I recommend to riders I coach that every 4th week should be a recovery week where distance is cut back by about 20%, and intensity is dropped or cut back. Avoid doing things that you have to really dig deep to complete and that are mentally draining.
In the weeks that you are working hard, you need to avoid doing more than 3 hard days in a row, and have at least one day that is right off the bike or is a very easy roll, like down the coffee shop to read the paper. For most road cyclists who work and race, Saturday is race day, and Sunday is the day where time can be spent on the bike to rack up some big kilometres. Monday can become a rest day, off the bike or a recovery ride. Perhaps an hour at easy pace on a flat course. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday can be back into hard work, intervals, track, hills, time trials and so on. We all have our little ways to cause pain to ourselves. Friday again becomes a recovery day. Off the bike or an easy ride, it depends what suits you best. Some riders feel fully refreshed after an easy ride along the beach, for others that is one of their training sessions.
Whichever you decide is the best way for you to do it, recovery is one of the most important aspects of a properly organised programme. Some people find it hard to take it easy and want to keep pushing, but resist this temptation. Work harder on the training days but make sure it is balanced with rest.
Train well, rest well….Dave Gomer
Hi Dave….I have a question. Over the last twelve months of road racing my average speed has been 33kph , except at Berri were my average speed was 40kph. The Berri figure was achieved by riding in a large bunch and the other races were mostly solo. Could you please advise what strategy I should add to my training to increase my average speed or default speed to say 36-37kph? Cheers David 🙂
Hi David. To increase your average speed in a race, you want to increase your t/t speed and this relates to your anaerobic threshold. You need to raise your anaerobic threshold(AT), which is the point where lactic acid accumulates to a level where you begin to have your performance drop off.
To increase your AT you need to work at this threshold point. Your heart rate that you can maintain in a time trial will be about where your AT is and so this is the heart rate you need to be exercising at 2 or 3 times a week. The types of activities you can include in your training rides that will help to increase your AT will be -15 mins plus at AT in race type gears, – 5x5mins @ AT – 5x 2 1/2 min, 7 x 1 1/4 min efforts at just over AT
These activities need to be done on race type gears and with care when on public roads. Increasing your leg power will also help, riding hills and regular time trials are what are needed, also strength endurance(SE) efforts which is use of large gears on climbs, eg 53 x 14 for 10 minutes at AT. These SE efforts should be at about 60 rpm cadence. Must only be done with care, correct pedalling technique and with lots of miles and condition in the legs. Stop immediately if you experience knee or back pain.
Good luck, Dave Gomer
What is the best technique for corning in a Criterium?
Hi Jason, cornering in a criterium is a very important skill and needs confidence and practice. If you are not confident in your cornering then sit at the back of the bunch so you don’t upset other riders and use their skills to help you through the corners. You need to follow their line through the corner, that is where they enter and exit the corner.
Riders will smooth out the corner by using as much road as they can, starting out wide near the centre of the road cutting down close to the gutter and exiting out toward the centre line again, so a square corner becomes a long smooth arc. The width of the road will determine how fast you can go through the corner. If you can’t see what is coming on the exit, then make sure you don’t exit too wide, you must leave yourself somewhere to go if traffic is coming. You should avoid crossing the centre line for safety reasons.
Different conditions will also dictate speeds, wet roads, gravel or dirt, oil all will make the road slippery and require a slower speed. Don’t inflate your tires too hard on a tricky circuit, you will grip better with less pressure, the recommended pressure is recommended for a reason. Leading up to the corner prepare yourself for what is coming, if you need to change gear do it well before you start turning and look at the line you are taking, picking out hazards to avoid like potholes, manhole covers, gravel etc. Ensure your inside foot is up and you have your weight on the outside foot, the most common fall is caused by the inside pedal hitting the road because the pedal is down not up. Make sure your grip is relaxed on the bars and make sure you can see what is happening further up the bunch not just the rider in front of you. Try to avoid riding under the rider in front as he will tend to move down toward the corner and you may run out of room.
One of the most important things is to be smooth and predictable, don’t jump all over the place and swerve within the bunch. If you are leading you must pick the line and the pace so confidence is required, just relax and work within your limits, brake smoothly and don’t try to go faster than you are comfortable going. The bunch behind is relying on your ability, if you over cook it and there is a fall then there will be a domino effect.
Cornering is a skill that needs to be practiced and can be done easily when you are alone or with your training partners on corners that are similar to the corners you will be racing on. Be sure it is safe, that you can see what is beyond the exit and that you start steadily and slowly build up speed as you become more confident. Practice all parts of the skill, looking up the road, relaxed grip, pedal position etc. Learn from the experts, we have some fantastic bike handlers in the team series, watch how they do it and don’t be shy about asking their advice. Like other aspects of riding a criterium safety is paramount and if you think you need help or may not be up to racing straight away then don’t endanger other riders, but get some practice in, get advice and work on your skills.
Cheers and Good Riding Dave Gomer
Keep a Straight Line (this one thanks to RoadBikeRider.com)
Occasionally we like to return to elementary riding tips for the benefit of roadies who are new to the sport.
Riding a straight line is a basic skill that sounds simple but lots riders don’t do it as well as they could.
When you can maintain a smooth, steady path down the road, you’ve taken a big step toward being an accomplished rider. It makes you safer because wavering puts you at risk from overtaking traffic. When riding in a group it puts others at ease. The fastest way to draw unwanted attention from experienced roadies is to wobble in the middle of the pack.
It’s quick and easy to improve your ability to ride a steady line. These tips will put you on the straight and narrow
1 Relax. You need a loose, supple upper body. Be aware of tension in your neck, jaw and shoulders. If you’re rigid, the bike will move in jerks and twitches.
2 Flex your elbows. By keeping them slightly bent and loose, upper-body movements won’t automatically be passed to the handlebar. The road’s bumps and jolts will be absorbed, helping the bike float over irregularities rather than flinch and dart.
Of course, staying relaxed is easier to say than do — particularly in situations like riding between traffic and a ragged road edge. Resist tensing your upper body by remembering to breathe steadily. Don’t let apprehension pin your shoulders to your ears. By staying aware of your body’s response you can make relaxation a habit.
3 Look up the road. Staring at the pavement just ahead of your front wheel guarantees you’ll ride like a drunk taking a sobriety test. The farther up the road you look, the steadier your bike will be.
You’ll soon learn the technique of “split vision.” This allows your lower peripheral vision to monitor the pavement and the rear wheels of riders just ahead, while you focus on a swath 10-30 meters up the road.
Remember, if you watch the line you want your bike to take, your wheels will go there almost magically. For the same reason, if you look directly at bad things you’re likely to hit them.
Tip! Prove that law of cycling to yourself by using autumn leaves on the road. When traffic is clear and you see leaves ahead, fix your vision on one and try to crunch it. When you see 2 leaves with several centimeters between them, concentrate on that space so your wheels pass quietly through. In no time you’ll get good at looking where you want your bike to go.
4 Practice. When traffic permits, try these straight-line techniques by riding on the white “edge line” near the road edge. Relax, keep your eyes up, and see how long you can stay on that thin stripe. It’ll feel smooth under your tires to let you know how you’re doing.
To prove a point, also try to ride the line while looking down in front of your wheel. Wobble city!