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paging Lonefrontranger: new roadie needs advice(8 posts)

paging Lonefrontranger: new roadie needs adviceweiwentg
Mar 16, 2002 8:23 PM
Lonefrontranger, need some words of wisdom from ya. My friend's been doing MTB racing for quite a while, and just 'saw the light' and got a road bike. however, he's quite new to this endurance thing. how should he get started training, as in frequency, intensity, etc?
depends on what his goals arelonefrontranger
Mar 17, 2002 12:11 PM
That's the first key. Will he be working on fast touring, group rides (aka the Weekly World Champs) or does he want to try his hand at racing? If so, does he want to try crits, road races or time trialing.

If he's an XC racer, then he'll be used to the lactate threshold thing you need for TTs and road racing (except for attacks), but the speed-endurance stuff in hard road races and/or crits will still bite without the interval training to prepare for it.

Current advice on lack of better insight is to stick to base mileage for now, and tell him to start doing some roadie group rides once a week. Try to locate a decent group who aren't super egocentric - road snobs can be pretty tough about giving the cold shoulder to an unshaven, camelbak-wearing dirthead. Unless said dirthead can kick their collective butt (seen this happen too).

Check with your dude, and come back with a little more specific info as to what the actual goal for this season is.


depends on what his goals areweiwentg
Mar 17, 2002 12:51 PM
he wants to do racing, all kinds of it :) anyway, he joined the group ride yesterday. I think it was a bit too speed-endurance for him ... he'll hang in there, though.
fortunately, though, the groups in the area aren't egocentric (mostly not). I've not yet gotten a snide comment about my camelbak, heh heh. and he hasn't yet gotten a snide comment about the grungy clothes :)
anyway, he's looking to join us in the collegiate road races (and, for that matter, the MTB races as well). he can sprint pretty well, so I have a feeling he would be good in the crits (and even the road races, since he's not bulky - won't get slowed down too much on the climbs).
racing, all kindslonefrontranger
Mar 17, 2002 9:42 PM
Good - that's what a first road season is all about. He'll learn a lot, and may or may not win much, but he'll also figure out what he likes / doesn't like and learn how to focus on his strengths & train the weaknesses.

As far as an XC rider making the transition to road racing and crits, they usually bump up against the same limiters as a triathlete trying to make the switch. He'll have tons of lactate threshold endurance, which means he'll do great in time trials, but beyond that zone is no-man's land. So as soon as the pace gets nutty, attacks go on a climb, or he suffers through the 5th or 6th hard lap in a crit, the rev limiter kicks in. You must train high intensity with high recovery, and that means the dreaded INTERVAL training. Before he does this, he must have good base and strength training in, because hitting intense intervals without proper preparation is a real good way to finish the season injured, sick and/or fried.

I struggled with the speed-endurance quotient last season, and the best answer I got was "VO2 Max" interval training, from off this board, incidentally. These truly suck. A typical regime is 4 minutes on, 4 off at 85-90% of max HR, 2 or 3 reps, 3 sets. You will want to puke, die and sell your road bike at the end of this workout.

The muscle tension intervals mentioned lower down in this thread are pretty valuable, too. MTB'ers usually don't lack for power, but for some reason they lack the ability to turn a big gear over fast. Alternating MT's with some other kind of leg speed intervals (leg speeds Tues, MT's Wed, something like that) will really help this equation. Leg speed intervals include spinups, 30/30's or 8-second jumps.

Riding on the group rides is a great way to help build the speed-endurance. The problem is if he's getting dropped early on in the ride - if not, and he's able to keep up for most or all of the way, then he should continue to do these at least once a week. Not only do they work the group skills, but you just can't do better race pace simulation. It's good you have a broadminded group.

The guy group I ride with was joined late last summer by an MTB convert who joins the group on Monday nights on his commute home from work. This guy can actually tow the pack around on a hardtail Stumpjumper with fatty low-pressure commuter tires and 15 lbs. of crap in a backpack. He recently ordered a Litespeed road bike, and frankly some of the regulars on the ride are terrified. It'll be fun to watch.
OK, thanks!!weiwentg
Mar 18, 2002 7:19 AM
LFR, you're truly a font of wisdom...
depends on what his goals areflyinbowlofmilk
Mar 17, 2002 6:24 PM
Well my goals are to see how I fair in road racing,and not to get discouraged. I was a XC racer too.Finished 5th in a XC race out of 6 racers. So How will my Mtb racing help me in road racing? And how do you think my learning curve will be for me(31yrsold going 32yrsold new Cat5)? Thanks in advance for you advice LFR
learning curvelonefrontranger
Mar 17, 2002 10:08 PM
The MTB racing is valuable in terms of a) knowing your limits, and b) knowing how to train and prepare for a race. It also helps in terms of fitness and being able to ride for extended periods at lactate threshold (the time trial zone, Zone 4 in Friel's book).

The learning curve in road racing is steep. The best advice I can give you is practice, and race a lot, because that's the best practice you can get. Having a goal of not getting discouraged is key. I've known guys who crashed out of every race their first year. Some guys are naturally talented and win right away.

You can't overlay someone else's expectations or experiences onto your personal progression. There's a 14-year old in this area who kicks serious booty in what I believe are the toughest fields in the nation. He was force-upgraded from 4 to 3 at the end of last season because he'd do stuff like win every prime AND the final sprint in a crit with insulting ease. Understand now that people like these are extraterrestrials. Mere mortals like us were born to suffer the ignominy of the autobus, laughing group, broom wagon, getting pulled/lapped/shelled etcetera until such time as the light bulb comes on in the attic and our legs are primed to comply.

Your goal should be to finish with the field first of all, and that's much tougher than you think. Don't use getting dropped as an excuse to think you suck - look at the circumstances. Did someone blow a gear or drop a chain and bring you to a near-standstill on a climb? Did they blow getting into their pedal on the start line so that the front of the field was a half-lap gone before you got off the line? (this is why you line up on the front) Did you let the guy in front of you gap you because you weren't on the ball enough to go around him? Or did you simply sit on the front or follow every attack like the rookie you-know-you-shouldn't-but-just-can't-resist-until-you-completely-explode that you are. That's not lack of fitness, that's just bad luck, lack of experience and, well, that's bike racing. You'll probably spend at least a half a season going through this, so be mentally prepared to blow some cash and patience paying your dues.

I spent my entire first season off the back, like usually DFL. I don't allow for the fact that it was because I was racing against men, because in subsequent years, I beat many of the same offenders by streets. Part of it was making the transition from ultramarathoner / TT specialist, and the rest of it was just bad luck, bad karma, or merely being off in the ozone for a split second when things got crucial.

See the above reply to weiwentg re: interval training for crossover racers.

Good Luck

couldn't agree moreTroyboy
Mar 19, 2002 11:42 AM
It'll be tougher than you think for your first experiences. Total field strength and toughness of races will likely vary depending upon your location. I'd imagine that competition numbers and field strength would be a bit lower in South Dakota as compared to Colorado Springs.

Just get out there and do it. Go get a license for a day if you're not USCF. Have fun, keep your line, don't hit the brakes and don't dip inside a train of guys taking the inside line on a turn unless you plan on holding that line throughout the turn exit. Swinging wide will get you into a heap of trouble at local races in my area at least. Good luck.