Speed works

February 12, 2020 § 2 Comments

I motor paced again this morning behind the trusty moto of Boozy P. It was cold at 6:00 AM, as it has been since December, but the sun comes up now during the 1-hour session and it’s a few degrees warmer, which makes all the difference.

In addition to the added lowest-of-low intensity volume I’ve been lauding of late, the secret sauce for building the top end is motor pacing.

We do an hour at Telo, and with 20 minutes to go Boozy will beep the scooter and I’ll sprunt for 30 seconds or so. We do a handful of these efforts.

The sprunt is hard, but you know what’s really hard? Catching back onto the motor scooter, because unlike me, it doesn’t get tired or slow down while I’ve been flogging myself for 30 seconds like a madman.

It’s that “catch back on” moment where, to quote an awful sports phrase, “the gains are made.” It replicates those moments on a ride or in a race where you’ve attacked and have to respond to the counter, or where you’ve followed one attack and then have to follow another. It is the interval atop the interval, where you will only latch back on because you want to.

You can’t replicate this in training because it all happens at speed. Where’s the training partner who can go 30 on the flats for an hour?

I re-read Stijn Devolder’s exit interview, a 2-time Tour of Flanders winner who’d never used a power meter, a heart rate monitor, and had never had his VO2 max tested. All he ever did to win a classic was ride. Behind the motor.


Motor pacing

December 7, 2019 § 2 Comments

A couple of months ago I decided to add motor pacing into my riding routine for 2020. It’s kind of silly, okay, completely silly, because the only races I do anymore are #fakeraces, but who wants to get slower? And motor pacing will for sure not make you slower.

Deciding to do something and actually doing it are different, though, so nothing really happened. Then I read an interview with Stijn Devolder in which he discussed his career and his non-use of watt meters, heart rate monitors, or “scientific” training. He didn’t even know his VO2 max.

How did he train to win the Tour of Flanders twice? Drugs (he didn’t really say that), and motor pacing.

Yesterday I rode over to Telo bright and early where Boozy P. was waiting for me, all bundled up. We started at 6:00 doing loops around the Telo race course. The first few laps were hard. I haven’t motor paced since 1986 and there is definitely an art to it. You gotta get just close enough to get the maximum draft, but not so close that you touch the bike and have a horrific fall.Variations in the motor scooter’s speed as it goes through the corners mean you have know when to drift back so that you don’t slam into it, and as it accelerates out of the turn you have to know when to push enough to get back into the draft without having fallen so far back that you’re fighting the wind.

Even though it was early, some guy was yelling at us as we went round and round.

What was most impressive was Peyton’s motor skills. An even pace is crucial, and although you can’t keep the speed 100% even on a course with turns, avoiding sudden speed changes is the hallmark of a good pacer. That said, a couple of laps he gradually brought up the speed in the straightaway to make it harder.

In the beginning I was not too fanatical about getting right on the wheel, but as you tire, you get desperate for each and every shred of draft afforded by proximity to the motor. It’s just like riding in a pace line. The faster it goes, the more risks you’re willing to take to keep from getting dropped.

I had planned on an hour but cratered after fifty minutes. Motor pacing is like being a frog in a pan of water gradually brought to a boil. By the time you realize how bad you’re hurting, you’ve already done a mountain of work, and suddenly you think it’s the worst pain you’ve felt your entire life.

I cycled through every excuse to quit I could come up with, and when I hit on the right one, I pulled the plug. Here it is. You can use it, too: “I don’t want to overdo it my first time.” Unfortunately, this excuse expires after your first ride and cannot be used with other coupons.

The rest of the day my legs hurt as if they’d been rolfed. When I got home I found out who the guy was who’d been yelling; it was fellow Big O rider Abraham Mohammed. He’d even snapped a few pics and texted them to me.

It almost looks fun.


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