By ALP Coach and current Road and Time Trial National Champion Alison Powers
Over the past month, I have taught a handful of skills clinics, and gone to one training camp in Grand Junction with the local 50×15 Colorado team. During this time teaching, I’ve been reminded how specific bike racing and training needs to be in order to have success.
Training- we talk about specificity in training a lot. You need to train specifically for what you are racing for. In training, everything is planned out. Intervals- length, duration, watts, cadence, rest periods, etc. Endurance rides- every bit of a 3hr ride can be planned out and executed to perfection then analyzed over and over again. Rest days, fitness, CTL, TSS, TSB can all be planned out perfectly for your ‘A’ race. Everything is as specific as possible.
ALP Cycles Coaching specializes in skills clinics. Our coaches work with individuals and teams to better their bike handling skills, team tactics, and overall confidence on a bike. Check out http://alpcyclescoaching.com/cc.php for more information.
However, when it comes to the actual race day, it seems many people wing it. “I’m just going to race and see what happens” is a commonly overheard sentence on race day. Why go through all that specific preparation just to wing it on race day? How can you expect to have race success for your team and for yourself if you don’t have a specific race plan and know how to exactly execute said plan?
Specificity on race day begins from the time you wake up. Every part of your pre race routine needs to be dialed in from when you wake up to how long it will take you to get to the start, park, register, warm-up—a specific warm-up is a must— what you are going to drink and eat pre race, and when you will get to the start. What do you need to do to get your head in the game and focused on the task at hand?
A specific race plan will not only keep you focused during the race, it increases your and your team’s chance at success. A few things to think about before coming up with a race plan-
- What is the goal of the race?
- What is your goal of the race?
- What is your team’s goal of the race?
- What are your best chances of attaining that goal?
Once you know these things, you can come up with a race plan. For example-
- To gain confidence in myself and my fitness
- Podium- top 3
- To get one of us on the podium
- Breakaway as I am not confident in my sprinting. Or, if it is a sprint finish, I will help leadout our team’s sprinter for the finish and her chance of a podium.
This is a good start but this is not specific enough to keep yourself and your teammates accountable and focused on the task at hand. This is where a specific race plan needs to be laid out, talked about at a team meeting, and everyone needs to be on-board with the race plan.
Race plan—I have 3 teammates in this race with me. 2 of us will be patient the first half of the race, then we will start to look for opportunities to either- 1- attack or 2- follow attacks. She is a stronger climber than I am, so she will attack on the 2-mile climb. If she is caught, I will counter attack. We will take turns counter attacking each other until one of us is away or it is obvious it’s going to be a sprint finish. If it is a sprint finish, at 2km to go the three of us will get together near the front of the race. Then at the mailboxes that are ~600 meters from the finish, our sprinter and I will get on my teammate’s wheel as she starts the leadout. She will go full gas as long as she can, and when I can come around with ~300 meters to go, I will finish the leadout and our sprinter will sprint for the win. I will also make sure to eat and drink every 30-45min or sooner, when possible.
This is a specific race plan. You and your teammates know exactly what to do, when to do it, and you are held accountable for your race actions. Just like a coach holds you accountable for your training, recovery, and nutrition, you hold yourself accountable on race day.
The more specific your plan is on race day, the more chances of success you have. Good luck racing this weekend!
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photo credit- Anton Price