Riding a bike doesn’t make you a cyclist!


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I have arrived at a few stunning realisations this weekend. Today I discovered a few more.

We went to the rowing club today, but couldn’t go out onto the water because I had track training straight afterwards, not allowing quiet enough time. So, we went on the rowing machines, which taught me an incredible amount about how wrong I had been getting it.

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I thought, having used rowing machines in the gym for years, that arms land legs all went together, oh no! In order to create maximum force, allow the oars to clear the water and stay at the right depth, you are meant to straighten the legs, then use the arms, then the reverse to return. Oops! Here I am after some intensive coaching. I am a LOT better than when I first started, yet still much room for improvement!

Riding a bike doesn’t make you a ‘cyclist’. What I mean by that is that because I was a cyclist as part of a triathlon at Age group level doesn’t mean that I can step into a cycling club at a similar level. I went to the first masters track training squad session today. It was a 2 hour session, and to be honest, the fact that I had no idea what to expect filled me with deep fear, totally and completely!

The coach was a very lovely and patient man called Ian. Today there were only 5 people, (3 were women). That made me feel a wee but better, till they did their ‘warm up’. After a rolling start it was a group ride, one lap on the front, each, then the last 8 laps were at an increasing speed. Before they got to their flying laps, I had already been spat out the back. When the group sat down, the guy that was next to me complained that the pace had been so slow he could have walked faster.

I almost lost it. I got up and left the velodrome. I sat on the steps for quite some time trying to pull myself back together. Perhaps this had been a dumb ass crazy idea. I couldn’t even keep up with their warm up pace, how the hell would I cope with the next 2 hours!? I almost went home. After a good few minutes I went back in to get my shoes. I still hadn’t decided if I would continue. Why was I so upset, had I really expected to be great from the start? I knew it wouldn’t be like that, I had been on the track before. I hadn’t expected to feel so utterly useless in something I thought I wasn’t too bad at. How wrong I was.

We did some drills, speed work, standing starts, fence hold starts, it’s fair to say I was regretting the 45 min rowing club visit directly before this, but I would have struggled to keep up regardless.

I learned an awful lot. The whole training focus was around track racing rules, it seems a wee bit surreal at times. Track racing is something I have only ever seen on the TV and here I am doing the masters track squad training. It was only last week that I still had hopes about being a national level triathlete again.

It wasn’t till I stood and watched the elites who started their training after us, that I suddenly realised a fundamental thing I will seriously need to work on. The guys were rolling round in formation at fence level. All looked normal. Then suddenly, after a yell, they kicked into another gear (figuratively) and sprinted off round the bend. The legs suddenly spun into another gear. It was then that I realised. My 90RPM cadence that I usually ride at (to match run cadence for bricks etc) wasn’t going to cut it. I would need to teach my legs how to spin at up to 120RPM.

This might be a bigger steeper learning curve than I had imagined. Still, I have done it with rugby, and with triathlon, what’s stopping me mastering track racing? Nothing at all. I will arrive at next weeks session more prepared, mentally.

Plus, I won’t have such a close rowing – cycling schedule, with a few hours in between to recover!

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