Friday, June 1, 2012

Learning to Walk Before You Can Run

I recently picked up a(nother) copy of Bicycle Road Racing. Eddie Borysewicz (Eddie B) bible of cycling. It was the go to training book for cycling in the mid to late '80s. Somewhere along the road I'd loaned out my original copy and it was gone. I finally wandered over to Amazon and ordered a used copy in very good condition.

Why would I want a training book from 1985? Because it wasn't just about training, in fact, the training aspect of the book is only one of the nine chapters. The remainder of the book talks about the different techniques and tactics needed to be a complete racing cyclist. For $10, I really just wanted to refresh my memory on the principles that were instilled in me as a teenager who was in love with the bike.

It still boggles my mind how so many of the people that race today, locally at least, have absolutely no concept of the technique and tactics of bike racing. So much emphasis is put on training and getting faster that riders ability to go fast, is way out of balance with their skill level. It's so bad that I've heard some local riders say they are thinking of not racing road because it's just to dangerous.

Case in point, I started racing road in the fall of 1984. After 1991, I'd switched to mountain bike racing but still did a few races here and there, and it's only really been the last couple years that I've gotten back into road racing again, traveling to bigger regional races. For a few years I was doing 50 some road races a year. A few weeks back I was in my first race that was actually stopped because of a crash. I see this happen regularly now in Cat 4 races. Is it caused from riders lack of skill? Or is it coincidence? I don't know. One thing is for sure though, when I was a junior we use to go to a park and practice touching wheels and bumping handlebars at low speeds, teaching ourselves how to get out of bad situations. We even did tumbling drills at the Olympic Training Center so we knew how to tuck and roll to avoid serious injury. It was just as important as our Tuesday and Thursday interval training.

I'm getting off topic, but you get where I'm heading with this. I just find it very interesting that all of today's "training" materials are only focused on getting fast. The only other (current) book I'm aware of that teaches the other side of cycling is Thomas Prehn's, Racing Tactics for Cyclists. Oddly enough, Prehn was a student of Eddie B, and features in Bicycle Road Racing. I haven't had the opportunity to have a look at Prehn's book but I'm sure it covers many of the same techniques outlined in Bicycle Road Racing.

Eddy B was a fan of cyclocross and mountain bike training to help build handling skill too. That's probably where my love for cyclocross stemmed from. At the time though, we'd just ride our road bikes off-road through Wilderness Park in Lincoln.

My point, put the power meter and heart rate monitor away one day a week. Find a couple riding partners and go out for a slow ride. Bump elbows, touch wheels and practice riding in an tight echelon. As your comfort level increases, increase your speed. Be a better bike handler, be a smarter rider.

13 comments:

Josh said...

I've been thinking about hosting a safe cycling/racing clinic for a few months now. Unfortunately I'm not really in a position to teach as my knowledge is very basic. Would you be interested in sharing your knowledge sometime in Lincoln?

MOD 2.0 said...

I've been toying with doing a ride in Omaha, or some clinics. Kevin Burke is the guy you want to talk to in Lincoln.

Single_Speeder said...

You started racing when I was 5 years old. I had just learned to ride a bike when you were learning to race a bike. Do you ever stop and think about just how old you really are? Man. Kind of makes me sad. You may not have very long left. At least you're not Shim's age, I'd be making plans to come to your funeral any day now. That is if I cared.

MOD 2.0 said...

You have much to learn my young padawan. And 25 years later you're still trying to learn. Slow learner?

Jason Monk said...

@Single_Speeder; No-one cares what you hipsters have to say - don't get on here and hate on a good article.

MOD 2.0 said...

Ha, ha Chris, you're getting called out! I think you just miss me.

MOD 2.0 said...

You know what they say about the comment section...It's where good blog posts go to die.

bryan said...

Not available for iPad. Do not want.

Old people smell funny.

RD said...

If this only thing Wolff hated :)

Single_Speeder said...

Who the hell is Jason Monk? I wasn't hating the article, I was hating the guy who wrote it. And another guy who had nothing to do with it. I'm glad to hear that you have an opinion on a comment that you know nothing about. Also, nice job assuming that I'm a hipster because it says single_speeder. Single speeds coast, hipsters ride fixed gears. Merica!

MOD 2.0 said...

Easy there Chris-O, rough day at the office?

Shim said...

Chris is just pissed off cuz he's in his thirties and still working for minimum wage.

And with a shitty beard, flannel shirt and straight legged jeans, fixed gear or no fixed gear he's a hipster doofus all the way (and I miss him).

Single_Speeder said...

Hey old man, glad you were still up at 9:39 to comment, little surprised but hey the old bladder doesn't hold like it used to. That was an old guy prostrate reference.

Trying to plan a quick trip to Omaha this summer, we'll have to get together for a beer. I have questions about Rogaine and retirement plans and was wondering if you could help.(I miss you too).