Training with the Pros

Ryan Kelly on the 200 on 100 photo: Chandler Delinks

Training with the Pros, it sounds like fun but it can’t be. Pros are genetic freaks; they put more kilometers on their bikes than any of us civilians do on our cars each year, they ride around whole countries at an average speed greater than 40km/hour and they can dish out such Rule V style day-after-day-after-day. We all dream about it but we don’t have it.

In an earlier life I came close to landing my dream job in Monaco with the IAEA. Serious people counseled me not to take the job, they said it was a bad career move. How could I explain to them I didn’t give a shiet if it was a bad career move, the chance to live, and more importantly to be a cyclist near San Remo and La Madone was all I cared about?  Yet I knew if I even saw Tom Boonen or one of the many Aussies who call Monaco their home out on a training ride, I would only be seeing their lycra-clad asses disappearing up the road. Could I at least catch up to Stuart O’Grady to chat him up for a minute before my inability to talk and breathe would force me to lie and say I was turning right HERE?  Maybe I could drink beers with the Aussies, I could keep that professional pace, actually no, I would get dropped there too.

Oh that job fell through and my dreams of  commuting into work on Merlin on the Cote d’Azure disappeared like those watery mirages on a hot highway, but I digress. I have some good and funny direct video evidence why training with the Pros would be a cruel lesson in our mortal failings. One such Pro is Ted King, an American racer living the dream; he is based in Lucca, riding for Liquigas, riding in support of Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan. He is tough, he has finished every Giro d’Italia he has started. He broke his collarbone this summer racing in Philadelphia when his front wheel dropped into an inexcusably lame drain grate (thank you very much, oh third-world infrastructure that defines the USA).

To bring his training back up to speed he did the 200 on 100 with fellow Pro Tim Johnson and amateur racer Ryan Kelly. The 200 on 100 means 200 miles on Route 100, riding North to South from the top to the bottom of the state of Vermont, the Green Mountain State. Unless you are Marcus, 333 km seems like an impossibly long ride to do at once, I would be in broom wagon long before the end of such madness.

And by madness I refer to the 338 km at 34.1 km/hr average speed with 3,197 meters of climbing thrown in for good measure.

[vimeo width=”620″]http://vimeo.com/27367910[/vimeo]

Video credit to Chandler Delinks

 

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270 Replies to “Training with the Pros”

  1. @Steampunk

    @Buck Rogers @Dr C @mcsqueak @Marcus
    Fuckwits: the only excuse to not ride outside is if you can’t actually see the ground. And that after several hours of digging through the white stuff. Failing this litmus test, trainers are for the weak. End of. See Rule #10. Then see Rule V.
    With love and kisses from the Great White North.

    Point of clarification please – with my ongoing determination not to ride indoors, I went chamois Big Mac last night and put my bib shorts on over my bib tights, and stuck a heed warmer on under my crash lid – my feet have never been as toasty, and this was the first time in weeks I didn’t wear neoprene overshoes – is there a rule against wearing two chamois, does this contravene rule V or 9 – my LBS says you don’t do that, you put leg warmers under your shorts? For some reason I am less embarrassed to ask the entire Internet community than the guys I ride with!!

    I must say, riding in the dark and cold with white ladies exposed felt pretty Pro, and my arse loves me again

    CycloX bike still not arrived despite ordering 5 weeks ago, but I’m determined to stay outdoors through the winter (my fault, as I wanted the black frame rather than the red one they had in the shop!)

  2. @Dr C
    Rule #21 and Rule #61 (indirectly in terms of paddling thickness) apply here. Get some proper thermal tights without chamois to go under your bibs, winter weight bib knicks, or thermals with chamois that are warm enough for you. Or cut chamois out of current tights if you must (as I’ve done). Leg warmers are the shit but won’t suffice when temps really drop as cold air will go through regular weight bibs. And as frank mentioned in another post, consider wool Belgian shoe covers. Those things are uber pro and the business.

    I’m looking forward to seeing your CX bike if it ever arrives.

  3. @Dr C

    @Marko
    @Dr C
    Rule #21 and Rule #61 apply here. Get some proper thermal tights without chamois to go under your bibs, bib knicks, or thermals with chamois. Or cut chamois out of current tights if you must (as I’ve done). Leg warmers are the shit but won’t suffice when temps really drop as cold air will go through regular weight bibs. And as frank mentioned in another post, consider wool Belgian shoe covers. Those things are uber pro and the business.

    I think this about covers it (even if Marko is a hoser). But you’re in Ireland, no? Marko’s talking about Minnesota winter, which is a good bit harsher; you’re probably more concerned about keeping out the damp than holding out wicked cold. My sense is a good base layer might suffice with leg warmers (I often do this through winter here in Ontario). The real key is getting (and keeping) the hands and feet warm (ears, too). Belgian booties””which I’ve not tried””or regular booties and a pair of these“”which I swear by. In my experience, the core regulates itself; extremities need to be looked after.

    Rules aside, though, being comfortable on the bike is key and defies what any online community might think, say, or dictate. I’m guessing, though, that doubling up on the chamois likely defeats the purpose of the padding in the first place, but whatever lets you lay down the V is probably kosher.

  4. @Dr C

    @Steampunk

    @Buck Rogers @Dr C @mcsqueak @Marcus
    Fuckwits: the only excuse to not ride outside is if you can’t actually see the ground. And that after several hours of digging through the white stuff. Failing this litmus test, trainers are for the weak. End of. See Rule #10. Then see Rule V.
    With love and kisses from the Great White North.

    Point of clarification please – with my ongoing determination not to ride indoors, I went chamois Big Mac last night and put my bib shorts on over my bib tights, and stuck a heed warmer on under my crash lid – my feet have never been as toasty, and this was the first time in weeks I didn’t wear neoprene overshoes – is there a rule against wearing two chamois, does this contravene Rule V or 9 – my LBS says you don’t do that, you put leg warmers under your shorts? For some reason I am less embarrassed to ask the entire Internet community than the guys I ride with!!
    I must say, riding in the dark and cold with White Ladies exposed felt pretty Pro, and my arse loves me again
    CycloX bike still not arrived despite ordering 5 weeks ago, but I’m determined to stay outdoors through the winter (my fault, as I wanted the black frame rather than the red one they had in the shop!)

    You know, I’ve had great luck using cross-country ski gear for winter riding. Fits well, is usually cheaper. Might be worth looking into……

  5. @Buck Rogers
    Welcome to the Kreitler cult!

    @frank
    Yes, only dark, not weather, will get me on the rollers. Thankfully I no longer live somewhere with a real “winter.” The only time I got consistent indoor exercise was a winter I spent in Russia. And yes, Belgian booties are the shit. No one will confuse you with big George.

  6. @Marko this is what I am hoping to receive mid November (2/3 the way through the season! Should give me time for a few muddy crashslides

    Shame about the padding rule, but I’ll accept due advice in view of lack of genuine broken skin or boils on my backside and revert to tights under bibtights

  7. Random: I’m at the Day of the Dead/ Cross Crusade in Bend Or all weekend. Just wondering if there are other VM here? VMH and I are going to hit the Dechutes Brewery Warehouse part with some buddies too. Always a good time. There’s also a handmade bike show here all weekend. I’ll shoot some photos if anything is ‘cool’ and post ’em up later. Prost!

  8. @Buck Rogers

    @Steampunk

    @Buck Rogers @Dr C @mcsqueak @MarcusFuckwits: the only excuse to not ride outside is if you can’t actually see the ground. And that after several hours of digging through the white stuff. Failing this litmus test, trainers are for the weak. End of. See Rule #10. Then see Rule V.With love and kisses from the Great White North.

    :) Feel the love.
    That said, I must say that I’ve learned a whole lot about Rule V in my own living room.
    You have a point, but I have felt something truly sublime on the trainer as well as on the road.
    You need to HTFU and get on the trainer once in a while, it truly makes you a Hardman and makes you appreciate the road that much more.!!!

    We do a trainer session once a week. With 8 to 10 of us doing a set we reckon we could power the suburb for the 1.5 hr session. Plus you can all grind away ‘at your own pace’ side by side in pain.

  9. I was out this morning on one of my usual rides, happily motoring along, not quite the V-locus but pushing that little bit harder because the legs felt good when, all of a sudden I found myself going quite fast. In fact, after down shifting a few more cogs, faster still when I felt that I almost couldn’t keep up with my bike! An unusual but enjoyable experience.
    Now it may have been the tail wind helping things along, but I like to think it may have been the hand of Merckx giving me a gentle nudge, almost Madison style – “come on son, this is the way, more of the V”. A great morning’s ride.

  10. @Dr C

    Pretty sure someone did an experiment not long ago about using cyclists to power household items. The conclusion was that the power provided as output did not justify the increase in the amount of food and other inputs.

    Makes sense – most of us would be doing pretty well to maintain 200-250 watts at threshold for 4-5 hours. An electric kettle is like 1200W – even if we could store it in batteries it would be blown by a few minutes of microwaving.

    Mind you, it would probably improve television no end if people had to think about whether they really wanted to watch X Factor.

  11. @ChrisO
    Hey, your a TV person, so let’s pitch “The V Factor”. Road cycling reality show of trying to make it as a pro. Or MAMILs cut-throat machinations in trying to win the town sign sprint. Or stars training with pros to do an etape de Tour. Is Kim Kardashian busy? Donny Osmond?
    The mind boggles.

  12. @Dr C @ChrisO
    ‘Fraid this is a long shot. Students of mine conducted a study on retrofitting all the machines at the university gym””stairs, treadmills, bikes, etc.””in order to generate power. The cost of the upgrades versus the amount of energy savings made this a non-starter. Not even data we wanted to share with the school’s sustainability office. Even a roomful of Jenses…

  13. @xyxax

    Pretty sure I read that in Belgium they’ve already done this, ish. If I recall correctly, two DS’s, past Belgian pros, think PvP, etc, coached a couple of amateur teams in regional races. Can’t find any trace of it on the web tonight, so maybe I dreamt it.

  14. @Steampunk
    My new school is a marvel of sustainability and whatnot. Amongst all of the cool enviro-stuff, we have ceiling fans that can run very effectively on 5 watts. With two in each classroom, don’t think I haven’t done the maths.

  15. @Steampunk
    But yeh, addressing your point, the cost of retro-fitting kits to feed back into your system (never mind those machines use electricity to run) would be ridiculous.

  16. @Marko

    Are you guys saying Gilligan was like Jens?

    I’m pretty sure that in all of the things said about Jens, this is not one of them.

  17. @xyxax

    The reality one would be tricky – Reality is as formulaic as any scripted program genre.
    The trouble would be in your group casting – take a show like The Apprentice or Big Brother etc they are deliberately cast to cause tension and create certain situations. And as far as the Talent reality shows go, you need subjectivity and argument which runs counter to the on top. Plus the nightmare logistics of filming all the riding and races.

    I like the MAMILs idea though but not as reality – that has sitcom all over it. Very much in the zeitgeist. What’s Matthew McConaughey doing these days ?

  18. Woops… something happened there. Let me try again.

    The reality one would be tricky – Reality is as formulaic as any scripted program genre.

    The trouble would be in your group casting – take a show like The Apprentice or Big Brother etc they are deliberately cast to cause tension and create certain situations. I doubt you would get the same range in a group of stagiares or club riders.
    And as far as the Talent style reality shows go, you need subjectivity and argument which runs counter to the simple fact that some people will win and others won’t – undermines voting and judging Plus the nightmare logistics of filming all the riding and races.

    I like the MAMILs idea though but not as reality – that has sitcom all over it. Very much in the zeitgeist. What’s Matthew McConaughey doing these days ? Anyone got any photos ?

  19. @Steampunk

    @Buck Rogers
    Ha! Did 107km this morning with much the same kind of inspiration. Not sure about the altitude, but roughly the same, I would think, along quiet, winding rollers. Of course, it was a frigid 3 degrees. I spent my ride equally between wishing I’d decided to go with the booties and lobster-claws and reminding myself to Rule V.
    As we get closer to this becoming a sure thing, I’ll raise the prospect with my former student. He’s a good guy and recently finished touring with a small indie band in order to make a documentary. I suspect he’d be into doing something on cycling. I imagine if his costs were covered, he’d jump at this if work didn’t get in the way.

    Rode 68 k’s this morning in 8 degrees C weather with the Sunday morning bike shop group ride. Only four guys, including me, showed up b/c of the cold. I realize it is not Northern cold, but was happy to see that at least I can hang with the “relative” tough crowd of Texas!!!

  20. Ah, Chunky Kit-Kat gives you wings!!!

    Much superior to any of that gel / fruitbars / Xmas cake stuff

  21. ….just ate four of them on my Sunday ride…..suspect they might slow me down in the longer term, but they are yum

  22. @Dr C

    Ah, Chunky Kit-Kat gives you wings!!!
    Much superior to any of that gel / fruitbars / Xmas cake stuff

    I’ve always thought Snickers made the finest long ride food.

  23. Having a Fit Like a Pro

    Saturday was one of those days sent by Merckx. Up 2 hours before sunrise, temperature hovering around 6C, packing up the bike and gear for an organized 100k ride west of Houston, Swamptown, USA on the edge of the hill country – nothing but smiles and espresso. It finally was cool enough to put on the Castelli tights and Campy long sleeve jersey. Gives me that much more of the “Pro” feel to have the guns and arms wrapped, not sure why. It was an hour drive in darkness to the start, then the usual standing around wondering if you have enough or too much on. One rider had the Casually Deliberate vibe going – short sleeve jersey, riding shorts, sitting against his top tube, just another day at the beach for him.

    The sun peaked up above the horizon, the temperature shot up to 8C, and the ride began. Mostly smooth pavement, rolling hills, almost no wind. An absolutely beautiful day. Sky so blue it will probably be banned in the future, some white tail deer tifosi along the route, and some unannounced chase dog sprints along the way. I was feeling so good that I purposely rode solo instead of joining a group. It ended up being a game of tag between me and a 5 person pace line. They would stop at a break point, I would continue, then they would slowly reel me back in – I had Phil and Paul commenting on my reckless breakaways in my head. Rode non-stop for the 100k, the last 10k on the rivet. Guns were shaking at the end – the way it should be. In my own amateur, non-racing way – “I was flying today”. I hope to capture another ride like that again this year.

    So, what does this have to do with having a fit like a pro? I went for a dynamic motion bike fit in the middle of last week. Captured in the Rules is great guidance (and jest) for the proper setup of your machine, but it is just that – guidance. If I totally slammed my stem, jacked up my seat, and shoved it all the way back I wouldn’t be able to reach my pedals or bars. I grant that the bike would look more pro, but only without me perched on top flailing wildly with all four limbs before falling over.

    The fit took about two hours and consisted of:
    1) interview of cycling activities – in other words – time trialist, hard core racer, serious distance rider, etc
    2) a flexibility assessment
    3) motion capture and measurement of the current state of things
    4) adjustment of cleats
    5) seat adjustment
    6) handlebar adjustment
    7) final cleat adjustment

    My “current state”:

    Oh the embarrassment. My Magnificent Stroke was an Anemic Egg. Instead of smooth power throughout the stroke in a Circle of Dominance, I had glaring gaps. Some of the causes – My feet weren’t level on the pedals, my guns weren’t in alignment with my pedals through the stroke, and the guns were extending a bit too far because my seat was a bit too high. I was also reaching too far for the bars.

    The remedies:

    Shimmed both cleats to have my feet absolutely level on the pedals and adjusted the cleats to have the guns squarely over the pedals for the whole stroke. I’m OCD about cleat position. Actually, OCD about everything, but sometimes that is good. I spend a great deal of time adjusting them when I get new shoes. In the relatively short time these adjustments took during the fit, my feet have never felt better on the pedals. Much more connected.

    The seat adjustment surprised me – my guns were a bit too extended, right? I assumed the obvious answer was to lower the seat. Wrong. I was also too far back. The seat was actually raised 1 cm and moved forward to place me optimally over the pedals.

    The handlebar adjustment – I had been reaching too far, but now with the seat in the right place I needed a 110 instead of a 100 stem. After that was in place, the bar rotation and hood placements were tweaked for comfort.

    With the bike newly adjusted, a final cleat tweak brought the whole thing together.

    It took 2 hours.

    The end result, and the only result that makes getting a fit worth it, small adjustments made in the right way can make huge differences. My hamstrings are fully engaged throughout the stroke and it feels like more of my quads are used. This means more power from the same amount of effort and was definitely a big contributor to the great ride I had on Saturday. My stroke was better, my climbing was better, my recovery was faster. I am much more comfortable on the bike, which I didn’t think was possible, because I was very comfortable before. I highly recommend a fit from someone that knows what they are doing and aren’t just trying to sell you another bike. Plus, motion capture with laser beam sighting? Too cool.

  24. @Marko

    @Dr C

    Ah, Chunky Kit-Kat gives you wings!!!
    Much superior to any of that gel / fruitbars / Xmas cake stuff

    I’ve always thought Snickers made the finest long ride food.

    I’m a Snickers man, myself. Not even heard of the “chunky” kit kats. Maybe something to try out after my self exile from chocolate ends next weekend.

  25. You only eat that crap once you’ve cracked right? Limping home from the service station crying, trying to choke down a snickers knowing that it tastes like weakness?

  26. @Marko
    @Buck Rogers
    Not sure what the science behind it is, but I suspect the ratio of wafer sandwich to chocolate may be lower with the chunky Kat, where the standard Kat is just too high in chocolate – I’d estimate 0.177 for the chunky vs. 0.232 for the standard 4 stick Kat – (applying same level of scientific accuracy here as was used in the Beer in the Bidon testing) – I positively roared up my local unnecessary extra pain at the end of an otherwise satisfactory ride climb, though actually in retrospect it was only my third fastest ascent on this climb ( downside to Strava, confirming I am now well past peaking, even though I wasn’t actually aware of peaking at any point over the summer – disappointing)

    Anyway, clearly this is the new EPO ……….. in mind if nothing else

  27. @Dr C
    Gents, for a switch up on long ride food, try Oatmeal to Go. Perfect squares of tasty stuff and comparatively just as good compared to Clif bars etc. Way cheaper too. Give them a try.

  28. @Minion

    You only eat that crap once you’ve cracked right? Limping home from the service station crying, trying to choke down a snickers knowing that it tastes like weakness?

    probably, but actually works if you just keep stuffing your face with them as you ride

  29. Somehow I have to figure out how to put Huevos Rancheros in my jersey pockets and not get messy. I could do RAAM on that dish.

  30. @Marko

    @Dr C
    Like all Mexican food it can be wrapped in a tortia. But after seeing what Huevos is short for I may never eat the ranchero version again. Damned word association.

  31. @sthilzy

    @Dr CI think Snickers bogs you down! Those nuts tear the chamois!Mars bars have stopped me from crying home hunger flat/cracked.

    So they help you work, rest and play?

  32. @Dr C
    I was out of Clifs this morning and for a moment was at a loss for what to bring. Then I remembered the opening pages of The Rider and stuffed 3 figs into my jersey pocket. V. nice ridesnack.

  33. @Dr C

    Castelli Fluido NanoFlex and lashing of Rapha embrocation. Good for more than seven and a half hours on the bike. (In response to the double pad discussion, not the one on snickers!)

  34. @itburns
    Great post, worthy of a thread of its’ own.

    LOVED the line, “white tail deer tifosi along the route.” Totally captured the moment, esp with all the deer around here.

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