They came at me along the road like bridesmaids at a farmer’s wedding.
Equally spaced to the horizon by winter madness. The club run
exploded, their kit admitted that they were still 30km from home.
I drove on in the opposite direction, the gaps became less regular and
the rider’s arms straighter. Some feckin mullet showing off and
destroying a club run with bravado and new wheels; when both he and the
club spirit would have benefited from a steady spin.
The destruction of a social club bike ride used to boil my head, but
any annoyance is lessened by the fact that it is witnessed annually, to
the point of expectation. Similar to yer man Fred West. I’m sure he
lost sleep when the first body was buried under the patio. When the
20th was being covered over, I imagine he left a hand showing. My
heart still bleeds for the lad at the back. He will think twice before
coming out on his irregular spins with the club. But more I feel a
cocktail of madness and sorrow for the lad in the big ring attacking
some empty fantasy in December. I want to sing him the value of slow.
As we try to chew clammy sprouts, we mull training over the next 3
months. Consider perhaps this year a slower approach to competition.
I can see the recoil and dismiss at the word ‘slow’ in a sport where
the victor goes fastest. ‘Slow base’ is a proven starting point in a
training program that takes the body to a sustainable level of
efficiency. It’s free, easy and productive.
So, if you were disappointed by your performance last year and you
un-plan do the same /similar training……… don’t be surprised or excuses
laiden if your 2014 turns out to be equally dissatisfying.
In 1994 in a pre season/drinking week, our size 5 shorts group,
caught and passed Team Telekom in Gran Canaria. We laughed at their
slow pace. Udo bolts was rubbish, 15 mph… laughable. 3 months later he
won the Paris Tours and I was dropped at Navan. That sparked an
interest in the saddlebags and steady rides of the off-season in
And it’s not slow; it is gradual adaptation, which begins slowly.
Give your body a load and rest after, and it will adapt and become
stronger/ fitter. This is the definition of any training principle The
processes that permit season long exertion must have their platform on
a stable, preparation period. When we understand and can visualize the
physical processes that are happening, slow is beautiful. At a recent
Quickstep training camp in Spain, Tom Boonan road 123 flat kms in 5
As you spin along at Level 2, your body is aerobically active, but not
During these periods my Doctor training partner, clarified the 4
essential changes taking place:
1. The body learns to use fat as a fuel. When under stress the body
panics and grabs energy from the quickest source it can find, usually
glycogen from the liver and muscles. During base training- the body
becomes proficient at using fat.
2. Increases the stroke volume of the heart. When relaxed, the chambers
fill and empty fully and efficiently. When an untrained heart, works
rapidly, it has not fully emptied before it is refilling. Ever try and
inflate a tyre using fast, half strokes of a hand pump?
3. Increases the amount of Mitochondria. Muscles are a mass off
individual muscle fibres. Mitochondria are the batteries or motors at
the end of the fibre that help them to contract. More Mitochondria-
more efficient muscle. These are produced in greater volume when the
body is active and not under extremes.
4. The muscle capillary density is increased. Blood brings the fuel to
the muscles and takes away the waste products. More capillary pathways,
mean better blood flow and a more efficient system.
So here is a wee challenge to riders WITHOUT a plan for the approaching
season but would like to be involved in competition at ANY level. 12
weeks,- 4 steps. You ride your bike like last year, just with a
STEP 1 : After Santa has departed, if you have kept your self in
reasonable shape over the winter…ride for 2-3 weeks, 4-9 spins at 60%
of your Max heart rate. The duration of the ride would build within
this period to your target race distance. So, if you’re an Under 14
rider- 30 km. If you are riding a club league 45km or if you’re riding
the Elliot. 120km+. As I’m getting old, my Max viewed heart rate is
181, so 60% is 110bpm. Yes, it feels slow. What’s the rush on frosty
STEP 2 : The next two weeks, or 4 to 8 rides, at 65% heart rate. The
target is NOT a 65% AVERAGE heart rate reading, as there are hills and
corners and cafes in Ireland. But looking down at the monitor reads 65%
of your Max, for most of the time.
STEP 3 :Well into mid February now, depending on your rest period and
next 2 weeks. Perhaps Wednesday night, Saturday and Sunday are run off
at 70% of Heart rate. Your body should have adapted to the load given
in January and all of a sudden you are riding with the winter warriors,
albeit behind their arse and ego.
STEP 4: Last two weeks, up to the start of the season, (avoiding the
first few races, crashes and the bare-legged mad men) the long, steady
sessions are now 75% of you Max HR (now 140-145 for me). No longer
slow, but in only 2 months the body has developed the aerobic
endurance, to YOUR desired race distance. Stay seated, smiling and
spinning. Monitor your recovery. Rest when required and eat a few less
You will have taken the body from Christmas Turkey to lean March hare
and developed a gradual capacity for endurance that will last you all
season. Still do all the turbo/ weights and spinning and interval
sessions that your soul regards necessary, for race prep, but don’t
leave the legs wasted for the weekend.
Do consider a progressive base to start your year. It is not often
that distinctive research, testing separate theories all yield the same
answer: Slow will make you fast.
Written by: Myles Mc Corry