One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s……..
To highjack the phrase ‘If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, have you ever considered that one man’s bread and butter 50 mile bike ride is another man or woman’s biggest achievement! Re-think this again, ‘If one man’s skill or strength is another man’s weakness…’, then how can we as coaches, athletes or a group of friends out for a ride together work this to our advantage.
Cycling can be an interesting sport for secretive training methods and techniques. I might tell you I’m not getting out and managing to get any training in, but park up at a certain spot at 7am on a Saturday morning and low and behold you’d spot me flying by in full TT tuck, eking out every ounce of power I can muster to smash that pedal back down!
In November 2011 we (One and All Cycling) launched our Youth Academy. Our aims and objectives are pretty straightforward – to create a sustainable structure of coaching, training and support where youngsters of all ages and abilities can enjoy riding and continue along the performance pathways to whatever level they aspire to, and that their talent will allow.
A huge part of the Academy ethos is the idea of ‘TEAMWORK’ and acknowledging that the strength of 5 people working together is much greater than 1 working alone. This however isn’t always the easiest concept to get one’s head around as we all have our own goals and aspirations as well as motivation about whatever it is that we are trying to achieve.
Why then do we believe that working together will benefit our riders more than working alone? Well, it’s pretty simple. Take a group ride for instance. If we set off a little slower but are able to maintain a steadier pace for longer, and then do efforts off this, does this not benefit us all as a whole? If we incorporate riders on the periphery to ride for the first hour will that not then help raise their game and then in 2/3/4 months time add extra firepower to our group when they can hold the pace for longer?
So what about the guys at the other end of the spectrum? You could argue that riding slower at the start detracts from their training, but not if they are taking longer turns on the front or dropping off the back and making efforts. Could our riders’ average 19/20/21mph on their own for 2/3/4 hours? I seriously doubt it, but when they work together along with other more senior riders is this possible? The simple answer is YES!
So how do the senior riders fit in? How does it work for them and what do they get out of it? Well they get a larger group to ride and train with. They too benefit from the increased average speed of a group that they can then make specific efforts off thus once again raising their own level. They also get to contribute towards the development of the next generation of senior racers – their future teammates who in time will be riding with them side by side in races and most likely making their legs, along with those of their teammates, hurt. Riding with and coaching young riders as they develop also challenges you as a person to constantly re-think the way you ride, the habits you may have formed over time and, heaven forbid, may actually improve your own riding technique and tactics!
Is this a simple process to set into motion? Well, it takes organisation and it takes honesty from riders about what their aims and objectives are. It also takes a bit of time to get into a mindset where you leave your ego behind and realise that whilst healthy competition is good on training rides and the odd dig here and there doesn’t go amiss, it’s best to save most of this for race day when you and your teammates, with whom you’re now a well drilled unit, can take it out on other teams!
There are always occasions when you need to train alone when you have a specific session aim to work onto address your own weaknesses in order to make you a better rider. Group rides are definitely NOT the occasion for this type of training!
In the film Blades of Glory Will Ferrell playing the role of US Olympic skater Chazz Michael Michaels states, ‘Chazz Michael Michaels walks alone!’ However, by the end of the film he goes on to win the World Winter Sport Games Pairs Title with his once arch rival turned skating partner Jimmy MacElroy, highlighting that perhaps teamwork and sharing strengths and weaknesses can in fact result in a better final outcome then ‘walking alone’!
At a time of year when many of the pro and domestic cycling teams are abroad, either on training camps or having already started their competitive racing season, think about the pictures you see in the press and the reports you read and consider how many times you hear of solo efforts for hours, or see picture of riders slogging it out alone. A few times perhaps, but then look at those pictures of teams such as Rapha Condor Sharp riding in tight formation battling the winds whilst on training camp in Lanzarote or Team Sky at the end of a Tour Down Under Stage sharing their successes and struggles of the day. One thing becomes clear from all this – whilst they are all putting in individual effort they are doing in together as a TEAM, capitalising on each other’s strengths and overcoming individual weaknesses.
For more info and to keep up to date with what’s happening with the One and All Cycling Youth Academy visit our website www.oneandallyouth.co.uk and follow us on Twitter, @oneandallyouth