Friday, February 17, 2012

Training Rides/Races

A lot of times I'm asked by athletes if it's ok to enter a practice or training ride/race while they're following their Annual Training Plan (ATP).  My answer: a vehement "YES of course!"  I highly encourage it.  There is no better preparation for a "real" race than a "practice" race.  What's even nicer about "practice" races is that you can try things out that you wouldn't normally try during a "real" race.  i.e. you can try to breakaway or just sit out in front as long as you can/want JUST to get a good workout in.   More importantly, who cares about your finish in a practice race.  I actually tell some of my athletes to race it for a few laps then sit in and wait til the final sprint.  That way, they're getting a good workout in and they're also getting some final sprint practice.  Or, just go as hard as you can and drop out and call it a night..after's PRACTICE!

For newbies, there is no better place to start then in a practice/training race.  Just make sure that you stay to the rear of the pack because your bike handling skills are NOT going to be on par with the rest of the pack and the last thing you want to do is jeopardize the safety of the pack.  Remember, these practice/training races get everything from the first time racer to the occasional Pro.  You'll never get that kind of mix in any race other than a practice/training race.  If you are new, just remember when you hang off the back you're going to work HARDER than if you sit-in the middle of the pack.  Your race will be nothing but deceleration and accelerations.  You'll be acting like an accordian the entire race.  But, don't fret..just realize that's what is going to happen.  If you have to drop out for a few laps..there's nothing wrong with that.  Just recover, and hop back on the caboose when the train comes back around.  Normally, these rides are 1+ mile loops/laps that last for 45 minutes to an hour.  So, you'll get plenty of work in. 

For you experienced guys, these races are a good place to experiment.  That's right "experiment".  Why not?  Try attacking..see how long you can stay out front.  Go with every attack you can.  Work on bridging gaps.  Watch the more experienced riders and see if you can guess when they are going to attack.  Do they always look back first?  Take different lines each lap.  Find ways to conserve energy.  Know when to sit in.  Identify when decelerations are coming.  If you're out front, know how to decelerate cresting a hill then accelerate and hurt the guys halfway up the hill that are off the back.  Have fun with it! 

Most importantly, have a reason/purpose/goal for wanting to enter the practice race that particular night.  For newbies, it's pretty simple- to gain valuable experience.  For you experienced guys, it should be to work on something.  Make it a learning tool.  Or heck who knows, maybe you just want to go out and hurt people with your accelerations..if you're strong enough to do that.

For you guys/gals that live in the Philadelphia area, here are a list of training rides/races (courtesy of Guy's Racing):
The Drives , Tuesdays - 6:30 pm, Location - Meet at Memorial Hall, North Concourse, in Fairmount Park or East Falls Bridge.  Format - 3.5 laps on a 8.4 miles loop over East Falls Bridge then around Kelly and West River Drives, competitive race pace sprints, flat.  Average Speed - 25 mph, Map - East Falls Bridge, Philadelphia, PA 19129

Great Valley Practice Criterium , Thursdays - 6:00 pm, Location - Great Valley Corporate Center (Off Route 29), Malvern.  Format - 30 laps, sprint every 3rd lap, 30 miles, flat w/one riser.  Average Speed - 20 to 25 mph, Map - Great Valley Parkway, Malvern, PA 19335

Guy's Racing Genuardi's Ride , Sundays - 9:00 am, Location - Holy Redeemer Healthcare Center (formerly Genuardies Groceries), Huntingdon Pike and Rockledge Avenue.  Format - 50 miles, training tempo ride over rolling to hilly terrain, no ride on race day.  Average Speed - 17 to 18 mph, Map - 821 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Museum "Italian Fountain" Ride , Saturday & Sunday - 9:00 am, Location - Philadelphia Art Museum, leaving from rear fountain circle, Format - 45 to 70 miles, rolling to hilly terrain, generally breaks into groups, Average Speed - 17 to 18 mph
Map - Waterworks Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19130

Northeast Airport Practice Criterium , Tuesday - 6:00 pm, Location - Red Lion (off of Academy Rd) Decatur and Drummond Roads, Philadelphia, Format - 1 hour + 5 laps, 1.3 mile laps, flat, sprint final lap, Average Speed - 25 mph, Map - 3100 Red Lion Road, Philadelphia, PA 19114

Suburban Cyclists Unlimited ACTS Ride , Saturdays - 8:00 am (9:00 am winter),
Location - ACTS Office Center, 375 Morris Rd., Format - 40 to 60+ miles, rolling or hilly, Average Speed - 16 to 18 mph, Map - 375 Morris Rd, Lansdale, PA 19446

Suburban Cyclists Unlimited HHHS Ride , Tuesdays and Thursdays - 6:00 pm April and Sep; 6:30 pm in May, June, July, and Aug, Location - Hatboro Horsham High School, 899 Horsham Rd, between Babylon and Norristown Rds, Parking lot E, Horsham, Format - Ride loops back to HHHS at sunset, rolling or hilly, tail light recommended, Average Speed - individual speed groups represented from 10 up to 20+ mph, Map - 899 Horsham Rd, Horsham, PA 19044

Suburban Cyclists Unlimited Harleysville Ride , Wednesday- 6:00 pm, Location - Indian Valley Middle School, Harleysville, Format - Ride loops back to IVMS at sunset, hilly, tail light recommended, Average Speed - individual speed groups represented from 10 up to 20+ mph, Map - 130 Maple Avenue, Harleysville, PA 19438

Victory Brewery Ride, Tuesday - 6:00 pm, Location - Victory Brewery Company, Downingtown, Format - 28 miles, rolling to hilly terrain, Average Speed - 17 to 18 mph, Map - 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA 19335

Mark your calendar and try to fit a practice race in at least once per week..preferably on Tuesday or Wednesday night during the race season.  That way if you race on Saturday you have at least a 2 day rest.  If you want to enter a practice race on Thursday night and you have a BIG race on Saturday..just be careful/sure you have enough rest in-between.  Some guys can recuperate quickly (you young bucks) while us older farts need a coupla days.

I've found it best when I entered a practice race on Tuesday night and a fast group ride on Thursday night.  That set me up nicely for a Saturday race...because the more intense workout was earlier in the week with good recovery in-between.  Remember, you get stronger during the recovery period.  You don't recover- you don't get stronger..simple as that!

Power ON! Coach Rob 

Monday, February 6, 2012


Here's a "must-have" App for you iPhone users out there.  It's the My USAC App.

The My USAC app gives you quick access to to your USA Cycling account, recent race results, upcoming events, and all of the latest cycling news from USA Cycling. You can check the status of your licenses, view event details and register for new events. You can also view news from general headlines or from specific disciplines (Road, Mountain, BMX, etc.)

The best thing about the App is that if you forget your race license at registration, you can show the Officials your My USAC on your iPhone and you're good-to-go.

Don't wait, download it NOW!  It's FREE

Power ON!  Coach Rob