Friday, December 02, 2005
Cycling News posted an interview with Frank Schleck (CSC) today. I found it interesting, since Schleck (and B. Riis) apparently believes in the same non-traditional base-training as I do. Schleck says: "Just before Milano-San Remo, Bjarne told me that I was participating in too many races before the Giro; that he needed me there in good form. 'You can't stop all together,' he said, 'you'd lose too much muscle. But your heart needs a rest.' So he asked me if I could ski. He said, 'don't break anything, but go ski, it's good for the muscles'." He goes on to explain: "We skied together, but I also went walking up the mountain at 7 o'clock in the morning, three times a week. And I must say that it was great training! As I returned home, I was in top shape, even better than before. I'd like to do that again in 2006, if I can, as it was also great for my mind and motivation. Plus, I'm lucky I don't gain any weight that fast, so it's perfect for me". I've heard so many "so-called" expert coaches say that all training that happens off the bike does a rider no good. I've always believed this is a bunch of BS, but I've had several individuals in various continental teams tell me I'm wasting my time running, sking and hiking through the mountains. They believe that ALL training must happen on the bike, or in a weight training room. The training culture at home is very different and I would say it is more "open" to cross-training such as cross country skiing, hiking and running. All endurance sports have 1 thing in common at home, training means getting out into nature and get your heart rate up. Whatever you do to accomplish this is ok. Of course, of my 900+ hours a year training, the overwhelming majority takes place on the bike, but there is some good quality sessions running through the alpine tundra or water-logged bogs on a rainy, cold fall day. I know Kurt A. Arvesen (CSC) and Hushovd uses much of the same type of cross-training as a good pre-season "change of pace". I think we have a different mentality to much of this in Scandinavia, as compared to central and southern Europe. Base training is base training, it does not always have to be 100% specific. And hey, it gives me a great excuse to scope out the fall bird hunting terrain and still call it training. :) Of course, I once overheard a so-called expert coach tell a bunch of young, promising riders that 10 hours of training per week was all they needed to "release" their genetic potential. What a bunch of BS! Like it or not, volume needs to be there. Period. Riders that are around 16-17 need to be up to at least 500 hours or so a year, preferrably more. 10 hours a week will not do. They need to walk the ladder every year, with constant increases in volume. And the training needs intensity. To read the whole interview with Schleck, check out http://www.cyclingnews.com/riders/2005/interviews/?id=frank_schleck05 From one thing to another, the author of this blog, http://ashwinearl.blogspot.com/ posted an interested piece on the cost of cycling equipment. That made me think about something, recruitment into cycling. The equipment frenzy and the apparent need to have all the latest and greatest in cycling equipment is hurting recruitment. Imagine being a mom or a dad, looking at easily $5000 or Euroes in equipment for their son/daugther to participate. Now, if they have more then 1 kid, this can get a bit out of hand. 99% of all riders do not need that top-of-the-line bike. Especially not on a youth level. The best peformance enhancer is not equipment, but heart, lungs and legs. And it's fairly easy on the pocket-book to improve these factors. We should focus on these things for youth wanting to "make it" in cycling. Establishing good training habits and attitudes is more important then giving the kids the impression that in order to compete they need a carbon-frame bike. As a side-note, I would like to officially admit that I'm a coffee addict. Coffee is the only performance enhancing drug I take and I take too much of it. Of course, I've never (and will never) get a positive because of caffeine (I don't drink that much) , but I do like it. Nothing beats the feeling of kicking back into my favourite chair with a good book and excellent coffee after a good training session. And with that I leave you.