Thursday, November 12, 2009, what do YOU want to do?

This season was an experiment to see what would happen if I tried to be two completely different types of racer in one year. The first half was an ultra-endurance road racing season which culminated in a 272 miles effort at the Davis 24 Hour Challenge on May 2-3. I did some HUGE solo rides and some randonnées in the six months preparing for that. The biggest question, with an eye to the Furnace Creek 508, was could I ride through the night without going mental. The answer is yes, so there is some unfinished business there, with the possibility of the 508 in 2014. The second half of the season was dedicated to racing on the track with the focus being on becoming an all around omnium racer. I had some respectable rides in both disciplines, but not one ride was totally satisfying. I never really found my legs on the ultra rides and then I never got out from under the fatigue of the long stuff when it came time to go fast at the track. But it was a calculated risk and I never embarrassed myself, so I must rate the season a success. Especially considering the great support I received and the friendships that developed over the course of a looooong year. Training began on October 20, ended on September 18, and included 21 race days.

Somewhere over the course of the summer I decided that I would really like to give track racing a try. It was probably in the Hellyer tent at Alpenrose that I knew for sure that the next few seasons would have a single focus. After nine years of dabbling in many different kinds of racing I am dedicating all available resources to pedalling fast and turning left.

So what, specifically, does that mean as it relates to training? Well, for starters, we need to define the characteristics of the races we want to do. I like the idea of becoming a well rounded track racer that can do well in the omnium format. The typical races at an omnium are the time trials, the mass starts, and the sprint events.

The time trials consist of the flying 200m, the flying lap, the 500m 750m or kilo from a standing start, and the 2K 3K or 4K Pursuit also from a standing start. All of these require us to make a big acceleration and then hold on for dear life. Some winning riders will get up to speed then hold a consistent pace for the remainder of the race while others will consistently accelerate all the way to the finish.

The mass starts are the miss and out, the scratch race, and the points race. In the miss and out we sprint every one or two laps until we are one of the last three standing and then we sprint again for the podium spots. The scratch race is like a criterium, they specify the number of laps and the first one across the line on the final lap is the winner. The points race is the same as a scratch race except every few laps we sprint for points (4,3,2,1) and the rider that collects the most points throughout the race wins. The mass starts can last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.

The sprint events are the match sprint and the keirin. The match sprint is a tournament where 2-4 riders race at a time in heats until the last two standing race for the win. The keirin is also raced in heats but in groups of six with the final race competing for the top six places. The match sprints are two or three laps from a standing start and the keirin is motor paced for 5-10 laps until the final 500m when the motor pulls off, signaling the mad dash to the end.

So basically what we need is a well developed aerobic system, steady power at VO2max, a highly repeatable anaerobic capacity, and a vicious sprint...all with one gear and no brakes. So for me that means I will spin a 96 inch gear (50x14) at 28 to 32 mph for many minutes with a cadence in the 100-110 range. For power at VO2 max I want to do the same but with my nose in the wind for 2-8 minutes. The anaerobic capacity efforts are 20 seconds to two minutes at 32-36 mph and the rider who can do 10-20 in an evening gets to dish the pain. And finally the vicious sprint should top out around 40 mph at a cadence of about 140 rpm. And if that's not enough to think about we will want to do all of this madness for 3-5 days in a row on consecutive weekends. It's gonna be a fun year! Until next time, ride fast and swerve!

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