guest writer Myles McCorry gets all Rocky with it

Myles McCorry is the name of the man behind bikepure.org, the independent anti-doping association run and funded by cycling fans, hard at work trying to help clean up the sport. Myles, a racer/rider for some 25 years, takes some time out from his schedule to very graciously give some to crankpunk, and here he explains just how to beat those Indoor Trainer Blues, with a little help from an Italian-American gentleman with large breasts and a half-paralyzed face…

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keep your hands up! he’s hurtin’!

hey! call yourself a crankpunk? then get crankin’!

Keen and excited for the season ahead? Nervous about your impending form? Worry not; I have the solution, the Philadelphia solution. Simply follow these three steps and I will guarantee you a better season than last. No magic or potions, just a trio of easy steps and progress for any competitive cyclist will result. Measurable improvements in personal best times, stage race placings or club run sprints. 3 simple progressions.

I coach a pool of semi talented, young and not-so young cyclists and the advancements over previous years are nothing short of remarkable. Unfortunately these three wonder steps will not rewrite your genetic code, replacing your lungs with those of Tom Boonen or your chemist with that of Tyler Hamilton’s. It won’t even make you win, if you haven’t been close before, but it will render positive development, so take a deep breath, hold it and run over the three mystical steps:

Step 1 “You’re nuthin’ but a washed up punk”              (accept this)

Step 2 “I vill break you”                                                   (take the challenge)

Step 3 “He iz like a peece af steeel”                                (determination to succeed)

Feel the calf muscles grow already?

With our addiction to shiny gadgets and the compulsion to have anything the pros have, most of us possess a turbo trainer – and if you don’t, you should. The triangular torture machine that sits folded and unwanted under stairs, damp in garages or under a bed in the spare room with the ‘special’ video collection. We all purchased our trainers with such enthusiasm –  in fact it was another excuse to head to  the local bike shop for the latest bling or bitchin’ thing. The sad fact remains that it is just hard to be find the motivation required to generate noise from the torture tool.

it’s a love/hate relationship – the thing loves to hate you…

Yet indoor machines are a great training apparatus – I would go so far to say the best. £200 or $300 spent on a turbo will return, pound for pound, buck for buck, results and value that no carbon–Kevlar bottle cage or new slick lid could ever offer. A carbon seat post could feasibly reduce your 50-mile time trial count by a few seconds; the turbo trainer however can offer much more in the region of minutes in terms of time advantage [just remember to actually take it off your bike before the 50 mile time trial…].

This effect is a simple result of training in a controlled, regulated environment. The weather in the shed is always Majorca, the road surface same, excuses are banished. The opponents are singular and unvarying. It has been noted that an hour spent on a turbo is worth two on the road: this may be true if calorie counts and watts per hour are examined.  The amount of time we spend freewheeling or descending on a spin is extraordinary!  Attach a pair of SRM power cranks to your steed and watch the power-reading buck between nothing and 400w at traffic lights, and any nothing reading is time wasted. Turbo sessions demand constant exertion, no rest: a desired labour can be obtained and pedalling style perfected. An effort of self determined duration and intensity that can increase with adaptation.

Say it with me… ready? here goes – training.

From a ten second sprint to a 40-minute climb, an indoor trainer is the reinvention of the fixed wheel, without the drawbacks. There is little argument against them. Spend a few more quid and Tacx, Elite both offer a reasonably accurate power monitor, and having an actual note of your daily watt output is a physical display of the essence of training. Watch the evidence of your body acclimatization to effort, as your third 200-watt session requires an effort less demanding, proven by the pulse monitor display. Controlled, reliable and ready. Your turbo is also the only place where I think Level three and four intervals can be done effectively and in safety. No traffic, no variants…a class piece of kit.  So why don’t we use them?

no Jan! not that kind of indoor training!

Dull, dull, and dull. Dull as a wet, sick, Monday afternoon. Pure dishwater. Even with the now standard silent resistance, turbos are not only dull, but also annoying to the non-cycling partner, and as a result are often banished to the least invasive, pokey hole of the house…

A session begins with spinning, full of hopes and dreams. A glance at the watch you notice just 4 minutes have gone by. Then 5, five and a half, 6, 6 minutes and 14 seconds. Somewhere a gap has opened in the space-time continuum. Conjured by the whirling legs, a hole is torn to a parallel universe where time lingers – and I mean really lingers. Your freshly salted eye sees the second hand loiter interminably as the lactic acid burns, and already you’re unhappy. I too have had soul-stripping turbo non-events lasting less than ten minutes, and they are pointless.

great youtube video here of Cadel Evans about to cry on his trainer…

So, having decided that you need the training, and that the turbo is the most time-effective way of improving performance, but petrified by the thought of an hour staring at a blank wall, how do you get the mind round to the task? By distracting it. Sorted. Lull the brain away from the monotonous pain and on to something else.

Movies are a great idea (as is always remembering the three steps, obviously).

Your turbo should be placed in a ventilated room, within clear view of an old TV. The DVD player should be then hooked up three feet in front of your winter bikes bars, just out of the sweat zone. You’re ready. Ready for a new training life. A happy one. Pacified into form by quality film. Initially in December 30 minutes of captivating training time will be accompanied by TV watching. Your mind detached from the job at hand, transformed to a galaxy far, far away. Forgetting the sore legs and concentrating on ‘the box’ Build it up slowly, start with several level 1 (120ish BPM) sessions. Sit-coms are ideal. After a few weeks when the legs are turning freely, progress in early January to solid base work.

An old Tour de France stage viewed will fire up the imaginings of April form and lone breakaways. Put the heart-monitors upper alarm to 60% of max and match the leg speed of the pros. After a few weeks the body gets to love it. The new cocktail of 100 revs per minute and a western. In this measurable situation, increases in performance can be made succinctly. Steady, monitored improvements. Training sessions become linked to DVD rental. January sees action series and short comedies all around 70 minutes; February is the month for the blockbusters: 90 minutes, with the odd interval thrown in during a chase scene.

Only then, in early March will the ‘three steps’ bring you to your finest form. Base done, race form approaching. Bring on Rocky.  Sylvester Stallone’s four movies are the finest turbo fodder ever produced (not the last two about the kid and the retirement muck).

The films have it all. Made for turbo training. The initial slow build, the first thirty minutes spinning happy at 110 revs per minute. Becoming engrossed in the plot: the small guy can conquer the world. You are Rocky, I’m Rocky and so’s my wife. Ignoring the noise the 52 by 18 is making behind, the first fight sequences, no one needs to tell you to up the tempo, an involuntary ten minutes is spent just under threshold as Rocky gets his shite knocked in by the champ. (Step 1, “You’re nutin’ but a washed up punk” – old coach Mickey’s words stimulate a passion within). Defeated, we recover at upper level two for what follows in the glorious steps, especially in Rocky 4.

The Italian stallion takes on Ivan Drago and the KGB. The subsequent training montage is where you acquire the improvements on last season results. 1 hour into the movie you are totally, involuntarily, right there with Rocky. Once the trumpets start; no Lance book, no Induraine time trail, no Quickstep last kilometre will offer surge training fervour like the intro “din-in eaaa… din-in eaaa” that accompanies Balboa on his final training run in Philly before the big fight. Rocky ain’t takin’ the shit.  He pounds beef, runs up mountains and outruns Ladas. (Step 2: “I vill break you” his/ your opponents taunt: – it can be done, rise up. If Rocky can beat the entire Polit Bureau then I can do a 21-minute 10).  You’re there with him, spinning 125 revs a minute. This log lifting and one arm press ups, 130 revs a minute. 75 % of your heart rate banished as you match him on the speedball. It is fantastic, cinematic muck. But the seasonal advantage is there. The three quotes from the movies inspire dreams of glory and victory and get off your ass and try harder.

The hypnotic Hollywood offering gives you 97 minutes assistance to the goal. Three 10 minute upper level three intervals, and a sense of possibility. All in one session. 1500 calories burnt and ten places ascended. (Step 3“He iz like a peece af steeeell” :The thoughts of your training partners on where this youthful ambition and new found power have come from. Mid April your compound indoor training, has gently advanced you to the cycling god you see in the mirror). After ten viewings of Rocky, punching the air in round 12 as you spin 350 watts… you’re a contender: “Adrieeeeeeen!”

Somewhere distant, after the three quotes have silenced, lies the holy grail of a turbo-prepped season saved for that miserable Wednesday in May 10 days before a big stage race where you had penciled in a five-hour spin, and you can’t face the rain. All you’re other competitors wimp out, on that crucial aerobic session. Bring in Dances with Wolves. The longest movie ever bored made. 3 hours of Kevin Costner playing fetch with a bleached Alsatian, and if you can ride smooth, fixed revs, for the duration of that sewage, PBs await.

(And yes, regarding base: level one apprenticeship preparation can be done on a turbo: Keep hydrated and watch the pulse monitor. They won’t replace your Sunday spin, but will offer a tempting alternative to 4 dark, frosty hours on a Wednesday morning)

Smooth out your pedaling style, listen to the ‘whirr’ of the fly/rear wheel. You may hear a dominant leg or identify for a dead spot. A good pedaling style, in all but the biggest gears, is just a constant noise without any detectable power stroke. At this point the legs are using all muscles efficiently.

Ready to rock? Got Rocky? Then get clocking those kms!

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