Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's Time to Speak Up!

Yes, cycling politics is boring and annoying. Bike racers and other avid cyclists tend to care about political stuff in their sport just about as much as they care about brussel sprouts in their breakfast oatmeal, but around NorCal we do get a chance to speak up about what goes on around here, and even more important, we can speak up and make a difference in what goes on. There are online forums for road racing stuff, for CX mud-slinging, and all things MTB, but not so much about the track side of the sport. The track stuff gets discussed in the infield between races and training efforts, but that's mostly between just two or three people at a time.

The NCVA BOD election is coming up in about a month, and some candidates have already declared their intentions and shared their point of view. There are nine spots available and there will be more candidates announcing their plans soon enough. Last year we had only nine candidates, so there wasn't really much of an election at all.

A downside of not having an election last year is that there was very little discussion before the election about the candidates and their goals and objectives for the NCVA. The ballots got counted, the nine people took their places on the BOD, and then they went to work on doing what they thought we wanted. But we never heard much about what they think, and maybe more important, is that the BOD members didn't hear much from us about what we think and want for the velodrome.

I don't know if there will be an election this year, but I hope people will take the opportunity to speak up about what they want to see at the velodrome in the coming year, and that people share their ideas and concerns with the candidates in a constructive way.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sprint Training-The Jump

Everyone who has ever done a sprint in a race knows what a jump is, or should be. It's the rapid acceleration from one speed to another, and you normally want to do this quicker than your opponent(s). The honest answer from probably 80% of riders is that their jump is not as good as they would like it to be. So... how can we improve our jump? One obvious way is to remember that if you can produce the same power at a lower bodyweight you will accelerate faster. And then there is training...

I think training for the jump has three main parts to it. First, build the muscle strength. Most good sprinters use squats and similar gym work, but Kevin Worley, a certain AMD-Masters rider, and I do virtually no gym training for sprinting-it's all done on the bike. Kevin and I use uphill sprints (mentioned in detail below), and standing starts. It takes months and months to actually change muscle fibers and grow them, so plan to do this part of the training beginning in the Fall and continuing to the Summer.

You can do these 100% effort sprints from a start at 0-5mph, for 10-20 seconds long. Choose a gear that allows you to finish the short efforts at around 50 rpm's and the longer efforts at around 90-95 rpm's. A hill for the second half of the effort, or all of the effort keeps your rpm's from going too high (which would change the focus of the training). Keep your arms almost straight (they provide their best support in this way) with your back fairly flat. Focus on pushing down on the pedals, but also on pulling up a little too. You will get out of the effort what you put into it. I try to break the pedals and the crankarms. About 20-30% of these efforts can be done in the saddle with smaller gears and starting from about 40 rpm's. Recovery time from the most intense sessions of this type of (strength) training will normally be 5-10 days. Pilates is an excellent way to help strengthen some of the supporting muscles of the trunk and back.

This brings up the second part of jump training. You are trying to make the muscle's motor units fire quickly, and all at once in a well-coordinated fashion-that's how they produce maximum force. Training for this can be short, 100% efforts, in a smaller gear than you would normally use for racing-maybe 2 or 3 teeth more on the rear cog/cassette. I often use 53x17 on the flat or a 53x16 when starting from 25mph after a downhill. This will cause fairly high force with quick recruitment of the motor units, and will be at a cadence that is at, or slightly higher than what you normally see during your race sprints. Keep the sprints short, 8-12 seconds long, and do most of them out of the saddle. Occasionally you can do a few in a smaller gear while staying in the saddle, and this is especially good for improving your sprinting in mass-start track races. When you are doing other hard training in the session you can incorporate just a handful of these sprints for good benefit.

Normally you can do 3 or 5 sprints in a set, rest 2-4 minutes between sprints, then rest for about 7-8 minutes between sets, then do another set. When you are too tired to maintain the quickness and good technique it is time to stop. You can aim for a total of 10 sprints, and 15 would be very good. The benefits of this training can be seen after just a few sessions done once or twice a week.

You'll see a change that is similar to when people first start lifting weights. They are able to add weight to the bar almost every week for about 6 weeks in a row, but their increase in "strength" is not due to significant changes in the fibers, but in how the fibers/motor units are learning to coordinate themselves.

The third part of the jump is technique-coordinating all of your body's various muscle groups to work together to produce a good jump and sprint. It helps to have someone who knows what they're doing check
your form occassionally to help correct any major flaws, like your position on the bike, how you handle various cadences, gearing choices, etc. A major part of this training comes from practice in gears that are maybe just a little easier than what you'd normally use for racing, but sometimes you'll want to use your race gear(s). You'll want to do these sprints on the flats, up slight hills, down slight hills, starting from 10mph, 20mph, 30mph, etc.

These sprints can be more like what you'd do in races, 10-20 seconds long,
with 4-5 minutes rest between them. Maybe 2 or 3 sprints per set. Focus on
pushing down hard and also pulling up a little, especially as you sit down
into the saddle to finish the sprints. And when you sit down, do it
gradually. I picture a plane coming down to a runway.

Always finish your sprints strong, with no decrease in effort and speed. This is how you win races.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

AVC-Hellyer, and beyond

Riding the wave...

Excitement has been building all season at the humble little track in the park. The velodrome upgrades and remodeling inspired the long-timers. Then the new riders started coming out. Timed Events Day a month ago with twice as many riders as in past years. A Saturday Beginner session with 50(!) people exploring the thrills of riding on 22 degree turns on bikes made only for speed. Record turnout for Masters States in mid-July. And then the big show comes to town the following weekend with the best pro racing at the track in at least 10 years!

The pros reminded us close-up how smooth, yet powerful 40mph can be. And more women turned out to race than I've seen in a race at Hellyer in 20 years. We saw some diamonds in the rough that look ready to get polished on the bigger stages-BJM and Shelly Olds are ready for the next step. And a few of of the 35+ guys not only showed they're ready to fight over jerseys at masters nat's, but they're acting like kids who just found out there's an all-you-can-eat Clif Bar store in their neighbor's garage. Track racing? Who knew it could be so much fun?!

Surfing on a nice wave feels good, so now what? Well, there's more racing to come, and for some riders it's the most important racing of the season. Qualifying for Elite Nat's is in 2 weeks, but most of the riders racing will be doing it for fun and practice. In the last week of August the annual medal haul for the Hellyer bunch at masters nat's takes place at the famous T-Town in PA. Then it's the Elite State Championships a week later, and to finish out the season a few riders will head to Elite Nat's or Masters Worlds in early October. And all of this racing is in addition to the weekly racing on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, and the Sprint Tournaments. (See the calendar section at

Yes Bobo, but what about next year? We won't have to wait until late June like this year to have fun on the track, will we?

Well, in 2008 you can expect spring racing on Wednesday nights, points racing with Larry on Thursday nights starting in late spring, Sprint Tournaments each month beginning in March, at least two Timed Events Days before July, and it's quite likely AVC will happen again and Masters States will be even better. And to top it all off, talk has renewed about bringing the 2008 Masters National Track Championships right to Hellyer Park in late August.

So, glue on the good tires and get yourself some "sprinter booties". There's plenty more fun to come!

2007 NCNCA Masters State Track Championships

92 riders, nearly 300 race entries. Never before has it been that way, or even close. That's nice. Lots of "attaboys" that made it worthwhile to organize the event. The race results can be found here.

The velodrome looked great. Racing went smoothly and I'll fix some things for next time. The criterium riders ventured out and brought their friends and teammates. They raised the level of competition and fun. The potential displayed by the newbies was rejuvenating. The concrete pad was packed with canopies, just like at Nat's, at little ol' Hellyer Park Velodrome. The veterans with their egos secure appreciated the scene.

At the end of the weekend I was exhausted and I also took home an injured rib that got hit when my rear disc broke a bearing mount in a team sprint start. Only 5 weeks to Masters Nat's and I'm not 100%. Max says it's plenty of time. We'll see.

Monday, July 9, 2007

I should update this place, but I've been busy...

Later then.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Worlds Wrapup, and Looking Ahead

This year's World Championships had plenty of excitement but few real surprises. Theo Bos was clearly the best sprinter although Greg Bauge-the sprint winner at the LA World Cup looked very good too, and almost got to the line ahead of Bos in the first ride of the sprint final. Chris Hoy is clearly in great form now and won the kilo with a large margin and was just .2 seconds slower than his World Record time set at the last Olympics. He looks good for his World Record attempt coming up next month in La Paz, Bolivia, on the same track used for other record-setting efforts going back 20+ years.

In the women's sprint events it was all Victoria Pendleton. The British rider won the team sprint with a young BMX rider who has only been on a velodrome for a couple of months now, and then Victoria won the keirin final about an hour after she'd won the individual sprint. Anna Meares of Australia won the 500mTT with another World Record, and another Australian, Kathy Bates won the points race. Sarah Hammer was clearly the best in the pursuit and becomes the first American to defend a title since Rebecca Twigg did it in the 80's. Sarah had a day to rest before the points race this year and after her domination at the LA World Cup she had reason to be optimistic. But during the points race she "just didn't have it" and scored just 2 points to place 14th. It looked like Becky Quinn would get a bronze medal in the Scratch Race but she was relegated for an irregular move in the final sprint.

And the American men? Well, Brad Huff gathered the only medal, and decent placing really, by getting 3rd in the inaugural running of the "omnium", a series of 5 events held during one day of racing. Other than Brad's result, there was nothing. At all. The men sprinters were nowhere near ready to contend for the places so they were left home, and the only endurance rider besides Brad was Mike Creed, who finished last in his scratch race heat and failed to make the final.

How bad is it? Well, even the Australians are looking to make some big changes in their track programs because of their sub-par results at this last major event before Beijing. Aside from Anna Meares they didn't have any success in the sprint events at this year's Worlds. Maybe it's that training program that Mark has since discarded (see Mark's interview below)? The major problem for Australia is that they don't have as much money floating around for their track programs after a big investment leading up to the Sydney Olympics. The Australians are trying to adapt to the realities of a budget that is no longer the envy of the world, and now relatively below that of the well-funded British track cycling program.

On the American side of things there are some changes coming too, and leaving the under-performing male sprinters home was the first visible sign of that. Pat McDonough has been put in charge of overseeing all of USAC's racing programs and basically he says that we're no longer going to support riders just because they are the best in the US. In the past, a rider could get support (money and living expenses) just by being the fastest, or second fastest US male sprinter, even if they rarely even made the round of 16 in qualifying. Well, no more of that. Pat says that support will come from success, and by success, he means medals. And if you're someone like Sarah Hammer who has success, they'll support the rider and their coach.

It's clear that the old way wasn't working. Some riders may have felt a lack of motivation to do their very best if they knew that being fast enough to be the best in the US was good enough to continue receiving support. But what is unclear now is who will support the future stars who don't (yet?) have some results to qualify them to receive USAC support? We all know there's virtually no sponsorship money available for a rider in the US who only races on the track, and getting paid by a road racing-based team is okay for the track endurance riders, but what about the sprinters? Maybe they can go to the Keirin minor leagues in Japan for half the year to make some money to sustain them for the rest of the year.

In case you missed it, the almost "live" video coverage by was really good (except for the announcer), and well worth the $5 cost of a one month subscription for access. Each day they showed about 3 hours of video coverage of the evening sessions, and if you haven't seen start to finish coverage of a sprint tournament, keirin heats, or points race you're missing out on a lot of the interesting details. The footage is still available "on demand" in their archives .

Training Snippet

Last time in the training section Kevin and I wrote about using uphill sprints in training. I thought perhaps some people would be interested in seeing how that fits into a training week. Below is a copy of my training schedule from Max for this week. (It is not the same as last week or next week.) The major objectives for me this month are to continue building aerobic power, and sprinting power/strength and sprinting endurance. Perhaps you'll find some ideas in here that you can try for yourself. Disclaimer/Caution: Understand that my training shouldn't be your training, and that my objectives right now might be different from yours right now. For reference, my current threshold power is near 300w. "Rest" means the recovery period between intervals/sets. The color coding is just my way of labeling the different kinds of efforts. The efforts are done in the order shown for a variety of reasons. Monday was an off day. (I apologize for the way this blog formats the Word file.)






2 hours
30’ warm up
2 x10’ 230-250w/rest 3’. 2 x 12’ alternating 3’ 220W
with 3’ 300W. 100+ RPM
2 sets x 3 reps x 15 sec sprints on flats,
seated, starting at 40 rpm. Rest 3/6’

2.5 hours
2x10' 250w at 100rpm.
1 progression from 200
to 320W in 5’ at 100-110 rpm
5 x 4’ hills at 320 W/80 rpm, rest 4’.
20’ flats at 240-260W

2.0 hours on flats: 2 x 10’ 230-240w.
1 x 10’ hill at 250-270 W/85 rpm.
2 sets x 3 reps x 20-25 sec uphill sprints, starting from 20-25 rpm.

Rest 4/8 ‘

Easy 1 hour or off

2.5 hours
30’ below 200W
1 x 15’ 220-240W on flats at 100 rpm,
rest 4’. 1 x 10’ 240-250W uphill/80 rpm, with last 2’ in progression to 320W. 2 x 5’ uphill, 300W/rest 5’

2.5 hours below 300W
3 x 8’ 250-280W on flats
Hills: 4 x 6’ 280-300W/rest 4’
Flats: 20’ 200-230W

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What you may not know about...

There are many interesting people who spend time around Hellyer, and I intend to interview some of them so that we can all get to know them a little better. And who better to start with than Mark Rodamaker. Mark has been racing and helping out at Hellyer for about 20 years, and he has achieved some major accomplishments in track cycling. Mark and I have been friends and teammates for so long I can't remember much about when we weren't.

So, Mark, let's start with the basic details. Age? married? Kids? Relatives who are cyclists? Years racing? How many days of track racing? How many criteriums and road races?

I'm age 58 although I'm 59 according to USCF. 2 kids. Daughter Wendy raced when she was really young. Son Scott still races but fulltime work and 2 kids has cut his training time. He is old enough to go to Masters Track Nationals. BTW, Wendy has a son who is 19 and athletic. We could do a 3 generations team sprint at states.

I raced for a few years in the 1970's in upstate NY and in Texas right after college. Took about 10 years off but did some running and then triathlons. Eventually, common sense prevailed and I started bike racing again in California in the mid 1980's so it is many years in total. Days of track racing would have to be in the 100's. Number of road races and crits would also be in the 100's. I have not done any road races in about 5 years. As soon as I stopped worrying about being a terrible climber I started winning crits. I am not much of an historian.

What are your major racing accomplishments?

I have won 14 master National Championships and 2 Master World Championships and these were all in the last 8 years. Wins are in Points Race, Match Sprint, 500m TT, 2km Pursuit, TTT and Team Sprint. Never won any major titles till turning 50. My first National Championship was the Points Race at Nationals. It was kind of strange. Everyone was watching John Elgart who would win the BAR if he won the Points race. I went to the front just to give John a wheel. John backed off as he didn't want the two of us both at the front. Everyone backed off with him and I got a gap riding at 20 mph. It got harder as they tried to chase but I eventually gained a lap on a 400 meter track. (Laps gained used to take precedence over points in points races.)

How did you get started in bike racing? Where was that?

I had been a competitive weightlifter in college but got burned out going to competitions. Decided to try cycling while in grad school at RPI in Troy,NY. Just rode around for a while but raced within the first year. We had local non-sanctioned races that were not super fast so I did well immediately. These became ABLA ( this became USCF years later) races later and were faster but I was ready by then. Raced in upstate NY for about 5 years.

When and where was your first time on a track?

I had a track bike when I lived in NY but never rode it on the track as there were none close. First track riding was at Hellyer. I think it was 1987.

What brought you to the track to try it out?

I can't recall why I tried the track but it was clear I would never win a climbing race and there are no big hills at the track so it just seemed logical to race where the crits are even shorter and you get to do 4 in a session.

What tracks are your favorites? Why? Any notable not-so-favorite tracks?

For racing, an indoor 250 meter track is really the best there is. On longer tracks, it is often better to be 2nd and slingshot around. On a 250, the straights are so short that the advantage is almost always to the leader so it encourages racing to get to the front. Also, a wood surface has a totally different feel. It is just silent,fun and faster. As a result, I really like Manchester. The ADT Center in LA is pretty darn good but the facility has some issues mainly due to being built on a minimal budget. We've had Nationals in Frisco which is an outdoor 250 but it tends to be slippery, the weather is hot and humid and it is really too steep at 46 degrees. The 250 tracks are not great for training as you can't ride slowly between efforts without falling down. Colorado Springs is a great 333 and the thin air makes it faster than anything else I've been on. The Portland track has character but it is so rough it is not much fun. Most of the 33'3s are fine but are nothing special. A 400 such as the Seattle one is not great. It is really long out of turn 4 to the line.

Tell us about a particularly meaningful race from your early years in racing.

I've already mentioned my first National Points race win. The winter before turning 50, I managed to get in a lot of base miles even though it rained a lot. When racing started I was about 5# lighter than usual. The first race of the season for me was the Landpark crit. I won the sprint in the 50+ group pretty easily. This was inspirational as I hadn't won a non-track race in years. I ended up winning a number of crits that year, plus the Points Race at Nationals and medalled at Worlds. But, the win at Landpark crit was what got it rolling.

What are your favorite events on the track, and why?

I've had success over the years mainly in the Points race and match sprint. Sprinting is really very stressful and I often have to race against younger guys who are really too fast for me so it is not really an event I've enjoyed a lot. Points racing can be the same story if I get in with the pro/1/2's but it is probably my favorite race. The keirin is also a really good race. The fields are less than 10 and the race starts from speed. I've placed in the senior District keirin a few times in recent years so it must be good for me. Conversely, any race that requires a sustained effort will not work for me. A really miserable example is the point a lap. Some super fit roadie will invariably get a gap and hold it. My comments while suffering a half lap behind would be unprintable.

What would you say was your most important result, or most meaningful result?

My first Master's National Championship was my most meaningful win as it gave me direction and the desire to get more of them and go for Worlds. Likewise, my first World Championship was extremely important as it showed I could win at the top level for Masters. These were both Points races which is why that is my favorite event. Another important event was finishing 2nd in the Pursuit my first 2 years in the 50's to Ian Hallam.

Did this result change the way you thought about your racing, or did it encourage you to change your approach to racing?

The Points race successes reinforced my approach. The Pursuit results were encouraging but also direction altering. While I actually held the US Pursuit record in my age group for a year till a better pursuiter turned 50, it was clear I could never beat Ian Hallam in an endurance event at the World Championships and I could never escape him on age as he was 2 months younger. I believed I had a chance in sprint events and altered my training approach to emphasize sprint efforts. Ian has not raced after he turned 55 which is when I won my Worlds events, but he was a major influence.

How have you been involved as a volunteer at Hellyer in the last few years, or going back even farther?

I was president of the NCVA for 3 years just before Mike Hardaway's reign. I have been a Saturday morning supervisor for about 6 years now and also do quite a few special sessions including being supervisor at the regular Tuesday and Thursday morning sessions. I make most of the work parties. Even though I'm not on the Board this year, I still talk with the current Board members regularly and I think they value my comments.

What do you like about Hellyer?

Hellyer is a very good track overall. The straights are short because the turns are very wide. This makes it a better racing track than you might suspect. Even with minimal banking, the wide turns can be taken at speed and the short straights make it questionable as to whether to lead or follow. The transitions are great. The surface is generally pretty good. The gentle banking makes it very friendly for novices. The infield has been a mess that is hopefully being fixed. The rest of the facility is basically super low budget. It would be nice if we had showers, a building with lockers, an office etc but we just don't have the money to do it. I have to put in a little plug for those who run the place and I mean the NCVA BOD. In my opinion, while not every decision is exactly what I would want, there is no one on the Board who isn't volunteering his or her time for the betterment of the whole track racing community. We have an extremely low amount of political intrigue. End of political statement.

What are your goals for this season and next?

My current racing age is 59. Experience has shown that I can compete but not necessarily win in my last year in an age group. There are some super talented racers who can win every year but I'm just not that good. If I could win one event at Nationals, that would be a great accomplishment. I plan to attend World's as I've never been to Australia but getting on the podium would be a great result there. But, next year I get to be young again and have every intention of winning at Nationals and Worlds.

Tell us a bit about your training. Major segments, favorite training efforts, least favorite, but still effective.

Last year I followed the Australian sprint plan and it really did not work well. It is pretty much all 10 seconds max efforts, weights and recovery rides. There was not enough training volume to ever get my weight low enough. There was so much weight and strength work that I was slightly injured most of the time. It works for 25 year old sprinters. This year I've added a lot more road miles with some intensity but these are mostly base miles with some near AT hill efforts of 10 to 30 minutes. 2 or 3 times a week I do sprint work which is mainly 10 seconds efforts on either a road or track bike. I also do weights twice a week with leg presses both days. One day it is two legs and the other day I do them one leg at a time. One thing I should mention is that I was having some, actually quite a lot, of back pain the last few years. Tried a number of different cures but finally came up with a 20 minute twice a day routine that includes core strengthening, stretching, yoga and repetitive core motion that has made a big improvement. You can not do a good standing start if you are concerned that your back is going to spasm. I do not do lactic acid type efforts in training. I am an energy system believer but doing the 1 to 3 minute efforts necessary to train the lactic acid system are just too painful. I know they would help and I may do some just before Nationals or Worlds but I just can't face them in March.

World and Olympic kilometer champion Chris Hoy has confirmed plans to attack Arnaud Tournant's world record (58.875 seconds) for the kilo. Chris plans to make his bid on May 12 at the Velodrome De Alto Irpavi in La Paz, >Bolivia, elevation 12,000 feet-the same track used by Tournant for his record. Do you think Chris Hoy will break the kilo WR later this year, and what do you predict for his time? This is a hard prediction.

The track condition may have deterioriated. It could be windy. But, Chris should be super motivated. With the demise of the kilo, if he sets a recored, it would likely last many years so I would expect the record to fall but not by much. I would predict a 58.2.

What advice do you give new track racers?

Try every event there is. After a while it should be clear what events suit you. Spend extra time on those events. Most track racers also race on the road. I think you can categorize bike racing into four groups: road racing, crits, track endurance and track sprinting. It is possible to be good at 3 of them but you can't pick the 3. You probably have to pick road racing or track sprinting plus the middle two. There are specialists who only do road races. These climbers can't sprint so never place well if there is no big climb. Likewise, a pure sprinter will not have the endurance to finish a 10 lap race. Get a good track bike but don't get fixated on equipment. Track stuff is rather basic. Weight doesn't matter much. In fact, heavy bike usually feel better at high speed. Aero is important as you progress. One of the great things about track racing and Hellyer in particular is that the racers socialize and share knowledge as they are sitting together between events.

Thanks, Mark, for taking time to do this interview. Questions and comments for Mark can be posted below.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Training to go Fast!

One of the questions that comes up frequently is what is your training like? What do you do? What is your favorite training session? I intend to pose this question to a number of our regulars at Hellyer Park so that we can all learn about what has helped other people go fast, and what may help each of us go a little faster ourselves. Since I'm already writing, I'll go first.

Uphill sprints. I hate them. I love them. They are a major component of the training that's helped me win twice at Masters Nat's. Every month I look for them in the training plan my coach has given me, and for about 9 months of the year, there they are. Waiting to inflict the worst pain and suffering upon me. And they are the efforts that I look forward to the most because they help so much.

To describe them, and how and why they work I think it's best to start at the end, and work back. When I'm getting close to a major peak in the season I'll do these once a week, usually on Tuesdays so I'm fairly recovered from prior racing, and I'll have time to recover (mostly) before the next races. On a hill of about 4-6% grade, about like a steep freeway overpass, I roll up to the bottom of the hill in the gear I'll use for the entire sprint. Usually it's a 53x15, sometimes it's 53x16. If I want to work mainly on strength I'll start from a dead stop and use the bigger gear. If I want to be more specific for sprinting I'll start from about 10-15mph and sometimes use the smaller gear. I go 100% right from the start to the finish, 15-30 seconds later.

The shorter efforts are for improving the standing start for a TT like team sprint, kilo, or 500mTT. (Pursuiters don't need to start nearly this hard.) The longer efforts are to improve ability in match sprints, the finish of TT's, and points race sprints. I often do a few sprints of the shorter duration, and then some of the longer duration. Here's the really hard part. The rest period between repetitions is only 2'30" to 4', and rest between sets of 2-4 reps is only 5' to 7'. A person focused more on points races than sprinting would aim for about 12 repetitions with the shorter rest periods and more reps per set. A sprinter/TT rider would use the longer rest periods and 2 or 3 repetitions per set. And the total number of reps will be 6 to 9 for the sprinter, and 12+ for the points racer.

Generally, we will work up to this volume beginning in January for the peak near August, and then another peak later for World Championships. In January most of the sprints are 10-20" each, no more than 3 reps in a set, and usually 4' rest between reps. Going into March the duration is usually 20" each, and the total number of reps is 5-8. By June the volume is at it's highest, with plenty of 20-30" sprints, and 6-9 reps. In July the volume comes down slightly to allow for higher quality of the efforts. About 6 weeks out from peak we'll regularly do these efforts on a hill one week, and on the flat the following week, and if I'll do sprints at the track later in the week we usually do less than 5 uphill sprints that week.

These efforts are very hard, and will significantly drain your levels of blood sugar-which can educe the sugar levels in your brain (you see dark spots). It is very important to have plenty of sugar in your blood before and during these efforts or you might black out a bit after the last one or two sprints of the session-been there done that. Don't do them with car traffic around you.

For so much suffering why do them? I am very fortunate to be coached by Max Testa since 2003. Before I started with Max I thought to be good at match sprints you just do 15-20 second sprints on a flat road with plenty of rest between each sprint, and maybe 4 or 5 sprints in a session, and that was it. With this approach I could win at the District level, but at the National Championships I couldn't handle the long sprints of the 3-ups, and when racing the best sprinters in the country they'd come around me out of the last turn. I have learned from Max that quite often, the best training for a specific kind of race effort is not to just mimic that race effort in training.

In a match sprint you'll come up against lots of riders who can go fast for 150-200 meters, but the ones that often win the championships are the riders who can tire the other rider out just a bit, and then go very fast for the last 200 meters, and without slowing down as they approach the line. You will need to be fast when your legs are a bit tired, and you're in a bit of oxygen deficit, and your legs are already loading up with lactate. And if you're doing TT's you already know you need to be really good for 25 seconds or more.

You can not win consistently if you can only produce high force for 5 or 10 seconds. The uphill aspect of the sprints doesn't allow you to spin up the gear to 120+ rpm's by the finish of the effort-the higher rpm's reduce the force per pedal stroke. You won't get much above 80 or 90 rpm's on a hill if the gear is big enough, and this also allows you, and causes you to maintain very high force for the entire effort. And that's what you need for long sprints and for TT's.

The relatively short rests result in incomplete recovery between sprints. This means you'll be sprinting within many of the constraints you'll face in your races, whether that is during a long sprint common in 3-ups, or against another rider who is good at long sprints, or during TT races. You could just do longer efforts, but then fatigue becomes a major limiter. You can't expect to go out and do 4 repetitions of a full-on 500mTT in a single session, or 5 repetitions of 350m sprints at maximum effort. Your fatigue will reduce the quality to a level that is counter-productive.

While the short rest periods help to provide most of the conditions you'll have to cope with in your races, significant fatigue won't be a factor until the 5th, or 8th repetition. You will notice that when the rest periods between sprints are shortest, your muscles will recover a few days quicker than when you use longer rest periods. Consider this a hint for the emphasis of the training that day, or that week, and plan accordingly.

Max used to coach the star riders at Mapei. The first time Max had me do these uphill sprints I was in such agony during the last few sprints (of 9) that I called him up right after the session. I asked him, when the team owner at Mapei was upset with a particular rider, did he tell you to have them do these uphill sprints? Max laughed and said that when he was coaching Michele Bartoli he would have him do 20 repetitions in a session, so that he could attack over and over in the last hour of World Cup races. (Bartoli won the WC overall two years in a row.) Oh well, I guess 6 to 9 repetitions isn't so bad, and they do work.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Training for Track Races

Here in NorCal we have a number of racers who have won masters World Championships, and Elite and Masters National Championships, as well as some top-level coaches. I'd like to offer a place where riders and coaches can share information about their training, so that we can help each other learn more about what can help us go FAST! And if you're already fast, and are looking for that last little .01% improvement, you may find that here too.

I invite people to suggest topics of interest, whether it's about the training to become a better all-around track racer, or some specific training efforts that could be useful for a favorite event. Understand that training needs are very unique for each different person-what works for one will not work for all. Please remember that this is not a place to look for a detailed weekly plan of training for yourself. It is my hope that you can learn about some things that you can incorporate into your own training. Even the best riders and coaches in the world have to experiment with training, to some degree, so if something doesn't seem to be working after a month or so you may need to re-consider it.

The more experienced riders and coaches are welcome to contact me by email about posting their own article about some area of training, so that others may learn from it and offer their own feedback.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Questions About Hellyer's Programs?

Questions about programs? Put them here in the comments.

Questions About Hellyer's Facilities

Questions about the facilities and equipment? Put them here in the comments.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Comments about this Site?

Let me know what you think is good, bad, could be better, what you'd like to see here, etc.