Legend has it that Will Walker used to do 30 hill repeats up a popular difficult training road in Melbourne called Yarra St (off Kew Blvd). The thought of it alone makes my legs burn. Yesterday Will left an interesting comment that gave us some insight to some of his grueling training sessions.
Hi guys, Will Walker here…30 Yarra street intervals is true but that is nothing compared to the training recommended by Aldo Sassi (Coach of Cadel, Basso, Rogers, Bettini…). There was a climb in Mendrisio Switzerland that was 2 min 30 long and was a loop with a descent of only 1 min 30 (By the way it was about 22%) We had to do firstly 4hrs then complete the climb 4 times @MAX, then ride another longer loop which was basically up a 20 min climb and down again which needed to be performed@ E2. To make it tougher we had to follow up with another 4 times @ max. I remember one day i was doing the session with my brother (Aldo Sassi was my coach and also soon to be father in law) and on the 7th repeat of the climb i couldn’t make it to the top..it was simply too steep!!! i pulled over to the side and slumped over the bike for a few minutes thought to myself that i went too hard on number 6 and that my bro must have too because he was nowhere to be seen. While i was thinking all of this i kid you not a lady….no wait a grandma of about 85 years was walking up the wall with 3 bags of shopping!! If she was in the pro peloton i reckon she would have had the most rippage in her legs as well. Ive never done the climb again… Also on hill intervals i have done the Dandenongs 18 times in a weekend with Johnny Clarke. Over in Italy i have done Mortirolo, Gavia and Stelvio in one day which equates to about 5500 meters of vertical ascension and that is about 6 Mt Buffalo’s in one day. By the way, all those that talk up Baw Baw..Its not that hard. Its similar to most Italian climbs which are never talked about.
Besides the astonishing amount of work that goes into being a professional cyclist, there’s a buried piece of treasure in there that stands as being significant:
We had to do firstly 4hrs then complete the climb 4 times @MAX, then ride another longer loop which was basically up a 20 min climb and down again which needed to be performed@ E2. To make it tougher we had to follow up with another 4 times @ max.
There’s a school of thought among many successful coaches and professional cyclists that says you should always perform your efforts at the end of a ride – not the beginning. This means that you should get your legs fatigued for the first half (or more) of the ride and then do your planned intervals for the latter part. Exactly what Will describes himself doing above.
I’ve previously said “start a ride easy, finish a ride hard”. An old coach used to say this to me and it’s stuck in my mind ever since. This is how races usually pan out. You conserve for as long as you possibly can and then let loose at the opportune moment when everyone is getting tired. It’s obvious to say that races are usually won closer to the finish line, not the start line. It always amazes me how many people don’t ride like this.
BTW, there’s a great article that Will wrote in RIDE magazine and on cyclingnews on the new chapter in his life. I wish Will all the best and I’m positive he’ll be successful at whatever he lays his hands on. He certainly has the work ethic!