This evening was the first of the ABOC winter training sessions at DISC. But why was I there? Lovely of you to ask!
At 33, I only took up track sprint 2 months ago on a borrowed bike affectionately nicknamed 'The beer can.' Despite getting roundly thumped in my two races in my first meet, I somehow felt that my enjoyment of the racing was sufficient to justify the purchase of my very own brand new second-hand track bike, so that's what I did! And so yet another bike was added to the collection, this one a 2009 Felt TK2. Another couple of rounds of the sprint series later, including a third place in C-Grade and then racing in B, plus a go at a DISC 'Come 'n Try' day where I did a Flying 200 time of 13.34sec (hardly world-class, but not bad for a first attempt!) I decided that I might as well give this track sprinting business a decent crack. So I enlisted the support of a coach, Carl Brewer of ABOC, and here we go...
So here be, more or less, a training diary!
The session started with a roller warmup - well, I don't have rollers, so a 'normal' trainer would have to do! After that I rolled out with Nic Marc to guide me through most of the rest of the session - there were only 6 of us there, so we paired up for each exercise with someone similar. Ish.
The warmup was done ostensibly on something like 82", but being somewhat new I only have the chainring and two sprockets which came with the bike, which put me on 86.4". Not a great problem though at this stage. We then switched to 'race gear', which for me by default became 99.7", for the first set of exercises - 3 x v.slow start rolling K1 1/4. Which basically means that you come as close to stopped as you can on the bike, the person on the outside accelerates and the person on the inside responds and each tries to make it to the 1/4 lap point (at DISC, that's 62.5 metres) first. Simple, eh?
Unfortunately somehow between my tightening and someone else checking, the rear wheel wasn't quite secured tightly enough and when I tried to power away from the start, I pulled the wheel forward in the dropouts, jamming the tyre in to the seat stay and almost making me fall. Fortunately I stayed up, managing not to crash in to Nic either!
The second attempt passed without particular incident, and I tried to concentrate on the "giving it 100%" attitude of a sprinter. It's just not something that feels very natural, either in cycling (where it's usually more about who can stay at 83% for longest, or who can put in more bursts of 92% up climbs, or who can sprint as close to 100% as possible after riding at 83% for 6 hours) or in life more generally. Sprint training for cycling looks ridiculously easy at first glance compared to a 'standard' program - 3 efforts with 5ish minutes rest between each followed by a 20 minute break, then another round of 3 efforts with a break, then a final couple or so efforts and it's time to go home. And each of those efforts are often 10-30 seconds each. But sprint training is absolutely 100% - or should be, at least. Better to fall over somewhere in the middle of your second effort than to keep something back to make sure you get through all three! I think I've a little way to go yet.
The third attempt I revisited something I'd hoped I'd mostly eradicated in my own self-directed training at Blackburn, where I'd been trying a few of these K1-type efforts. What happens is that it can be awful hard to ride in a straight line in the first few pedal strokes, and so there can be a tendency to swerve - often in a general downward direction, given that even the straights at DISC are banked at 12°. I suspect that what happened is that I forgot about trying to keep the chest straight and pointed forward, possibly because I started with my front wheel turned because I was going too slowly. At any rate, after a couple of pedal strokes I ducked down in to Nic's lane, wobbled back up, backed off, tried to straighten up, and eventually switched off so as to safely negotiate the 42° banking of the corner without wobbling all over the boards, and possibly sliding down them!
The next section involved my first experience with riding behind a motorbike, which was... not very scary at all, actually! I was a little skittish sitting behind Nic sitting behind the motorcycle (which isn't actually a derny, but which has a roll-bar on the back making it perfectly (relatively!) safe to bump in to) during our first of three 30km/h powerjumps (where you draft behind the motorbike, it pulls up and you both jump, the second rider trying to overtake the lead rider within half a lap) than when it was my turn to sit behind the derny (it's just shorter, okay?) on the next go around.
The idea, as the following rider, was to 'lay off' the lead rider coming through the last bend before the derny swung up by moving up the track but travelling at the same speed - so not losing any momentum - then diving back down, into and through the draft of the lead rider, and catapaulting your way past and on to glory. Or something like that. Important race tactic. I've got a lot to learn! Not least of which is positioning on the bike - when I was the lead rider, getting out of the saddle to accelerate as the derny swung up I had the rear wheel slipping for a good two or three pedal strokes before I got it under control, which apparently is likely due to being too far forward. Not something I've noticed at Blackburn on the outdoor, concrete velo, but much more apparent on the slippery boards!
Okay. Nearly the end of the epic. I don't know why I'm explaining so much, since anyone likely to read this probably knows all about it anyway. It's only a training diary! Maybe it's because I don't know what I'm talking about yet.
The last section was supposed to involve 2x500m revouts at 82" (86.4" for me), where you sit behind the derny and in each corner it accelerates and you just stay with it as long as you can - or as long as it lets you! We ended up just doing the one though, for which I was very thankful; shattered, was I. But I felt comfortable sitting behind the derny (no idea how close, really, but probably not close enough since I didn't hit it!) and accelerated pretty well. But I've nothing to compare it to, and not even any Garmin stats because my speed sensor wasn't properly lined up for the revout - the perils of flipping the wheel around.
So that was that! No Nandos afterwards with the rest of the squad, as family had arrived and I had to head home, but next time! I feel like I'm somewhere I oughta be...
Brief stats here (minus the revout).