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We’re fortunate that here in Melbourne there’s a selection of bunch rides to choose from every day of the week. These rides are great as they are motivating, safer when riding in traffic, and they can really push your limits if you’re up for it. However, bunch rides can be a real waste of time if you are content getting pulled along in the middle of the pack. Riding in a bunch will never improve your form! Here’s a couple good tips from Danny Cohen on how to help maximize your time spent on these rides. Thanks Danny…
note: Once again, there is no substitute for a well planned out, “periodized” training plan.
Next time you’re in a large super fast bunch, move all the way to the back and let a gap of 5m open between you and the last rider. Now observe the back half of the pack closely. Notice how most riders are hardly turning the pedals? They seem to just get sucked along most of the time, pedalling intermittently for a few seconds just to maintain/increase speed, then backing off as the pace settles.
It’s only when the bunch hits a hill or when it gets really strung out at 50+km/h, that everyone’s heart rate rises. But how much time out of the total ride does this intensity account for? If you still enjoy your local fast bunch ride but want to ensure you get the most out of the time you have set aside to train and want to avoid “faux form” , try the following:(you might even preserve those brake pads a bit longer!)
(1) Ride a low gear at high cadence and hang 5 meters off the last rider. Be sure to concentrate as some of the backmarkers will drop wheels due to exertion, opening up gaps…not necessarily a bad thing as this will force you to ride harder for a few seconds to get back on while you’re already nearing the red zone! If you feel you’re going to pop, get closer and take a bit more shelter till you recover. The overall amount of time your legs won’t be pedalling will be negligible. This is good simulation for for motorpacing and your overall speed.
(3) Put it in a massive gear like the 53×11 or 12 and work on your strength endurance in the back of the bunch. Try doing this for 2×10 minute intervals with 5 mins rest in-between. Careful…the accelerations will be difficult to keep up with using this big gear.
(2) Ride in the top 10 wheels and get as much time at the pointy front end as possible! Obviously get into the rotation if there are turns being rolled up front. This is great for your tempo and lactate threshold work (great race simulation)
Enjoy the increased form!