's Forum Archives - Racing

Archive Home >> Racing(1 2 3 )

Crit racing with Jonathon Vaughters...(21 posts)

Crit racing with Jonathon Vaughters...RockyMountainRacer
Apr 23, 2002 5:59 PM
...can best be described in two words: PAIN & SUFFERING!! Yep, I just got back from the Tuesday world criterium championship here in Denver (actually the locals call it a "training crit") and I'm a bit worried about my ability to walk tomorrow, much less ride to work. You know you're in for a long day when you are a cat 5 newbie dork who just decided to try road racing this spring in Colorado, and you are trying your best not to caugh up bloody chunks of your pathetically weak lungs in a local training crit consisting of mostly all cat 1's and pros, and you look over to the guy next to you in the green Credit Agricole outfit, see that it's Jonathon Vaughters, and that he is hurting too! Yes folks, that is not a good sign.

Ok, so the problem is that somehow I'm becoming addicted to these sadistic inventions known as "criteriums", and for some insane reason find myself looking forward to punishing my body over and over again in them. I want to keep doing them and even get better at them! What is wrong with me?

So what are the best intervals to do for crits? My mountain bike races are finally starting up next weekend, so I am going to focus on them as initially planned, but I am also going to continue to do crits throughout the season (not as initially planned). Anyone out there primarily an mtb racer who also likes to do crits? Will my mtb performance suffer if I try to do both? Last summer most of my training consisted of LT intervals since mtb'ing is mostly time trialing at the LT. Not suprisingly my weakness is the anaerobic bursts crits are full of. Will doing more of this type of training help or hurt my mtb racing since I will necessarily have to do less work at lactate threshold? One more thing: I have access to this brutal training crit on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Should I do it both nights and race on the weekend or will that overtrain me, and would it be better or worse for mountain bike training? I expect big things from Shirt and LoneFrontRanger for their crit expertise, and also from Allervite because I know he races a mountain bike!
Since you've called on me by name...shirt
Apr 23, 2002 8:16 PM
I actually don't know a whole lot about intervals for crits. Or rather, most of what I do is translated from running and cycling in the early 80s. I break my crit interval workouts into three groups:

1. Leg speed. I'll do my first rep in my 42/19. I gradually bring my leg speed up to ~110 then take it to the fastest I can spin. Hold for 10 seconds until well baked. Easy spin for 2-3 minutes. Do the same thing in my 42/17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12. Then back up the ladder: 12,13,14,15,17. I've been doing this workout because I'm not very good at holding my sprint for very long. Don't worry about using your small ring; a 42/13 spun out equates to a very, very fast speed (not sure what a 39 gets you, tho.)

2. Acceleration. Pretty much the same thing as above, except I start my interval at walking speed and wind that mother out as fast as I possible can. Doing a dozen of these once or twice a week will make your legs bigger. That's not necessarily what you want, I'm just telling you what will happen.

3. Combined. Then I'll put the two together: start from a walking speed, wind out to about 135rpm and hold. I'm always interested to see when the rmps start to drop off. It usually happens when I start to cry.

I'm assuming that before you do things like this, you'll have plenty of strength work (and endurance of course) to support the ferocious effort required. If not, I'll leave that to Allervite to explain.

Finally, doing crits to practice for crits really helps. Ignoring all the advice we've given about doing them to develop skills, blah, blah, blah, there's a certain adrenaline factor that gets your HR in the red zone and tends to keep it there for the duration of a crit. This provides the 'bloody chunks of lungs' feeling you've described, and going to visit that country on a regular basis will help you learn the language of suffering. :-) But, I'd only do the Tuesday crit and save Thursday for strength work or a long endurance ride. If you're not toasted from the Tuesday crit, go do one of the workouts I mentioned before. We've all said it here before: work HARD on your hard days and go MELLOW on your easy days. For myself, two HARD days a week is enough. I also don't have only Hard/Easy workouts. I rate them: very light, easy, medium, med/hard and HARD. The weekly formula I have for how they're arrayed is of my own device. If you really want it I'll send it directly to you.


ps: My interval format is my own. I'm sure there are a million holes in it since I didn't get it from Friel or anybody else. YMMV.

pps: You're a STUD for hanging with the pros. Good job.
Apr 23, 2002 8:26 PM
these are SPRINT workouts. They won't help you hang in a sick-fast crit, which is probably what you want. Hopefully somebody else who actually knows what they're talking about will write about that...
Apr 23, 2002 8:35 PM
They are still good SPRINT workouts. But your right, I am much more worried about intervals that will help me hang longer without getting dropped. I have been doing one sprint & acceleration workout a week for 2 months now--I will try your leg speed work in the different gears, that sounds cool. Still, I'm not able to hang long enough to use a sprint. I'll bet the sprint workout helps you on the jumps and pace changes though.

And for the record, I did not hang with the pros. I got dropped by the pros. Several times. Then I waited for them to come back around, jumped on the back, and got dropped again! I'm just a glutton for punishment...
Meridian? nmlread
Apr 23, 2002 8:24 PM
Tuesday night MeridianBipedZed
Apr 24, 2002 5:32 AM
Last night started much slower than normal, but quickly ramped up once the Cody Racing guys started sending guys off the front. Vaughters does show up when he's in town, and several of the guys in front are 1/2s, but the majority of the riders are 3/4s with quite a few newbies to make things interesting.

Keep going to Meridian once a week and try this interval workout from Palmares. It's run by Rick Sorensen a Cat 1 National Masters Champion from Wyoming. He's got some great tips on the site.
Vaughters is not a true "critter" anywayslonefrontranger
Apr 24, 2002 7:12 AM
- he's one of those skinny climber dudes with legs like my arms. Eat more beef, boy.

Seriously, I've heard him claim that crits are way too short for him, which is partly why he suffers. Granted, when he suffers he is still going a crapload faster than we pathetic slobs, but suffering is suffering whether you're a UCI trade team pro or a weekend warrior. I know it doesn't make you feel any better when you look over and see that CA kit and know it's the real deal.

I race MTB Sport class, although I've not done any MTB racing out here. What I did find is that the faster I was crit racing, the easier it was to absolutely crush the pure MTB types on those rolling short-track style MTB courses in the Midwest - but if you're doing long, extended LT stuff in some crazy 2,000-ft-gain-per-lap race out here, the intensity may not translate into any perceivable benefit, I just dunno. Road racing definitely makes you faster, because you just have to learn how to spin a big gear, fast - which pure MTB'ers never really "get'. But I imagine you'll still have to work the endurance base somewhere. I do LT hillclimbs on Wednesday nights, by the way.

Last year I started out with a lot of the same kind of stuff Shirt talks about as far as sprint intervals, but it wasn't helping me hang on to all the attacks. What I needed was VO2MAX work, and BipedZed has a great source with those jump and holds, which I will start using out on the road as I continue my build. The jump and holds are basically a version of the 2 minutes on / 2 minutes recovery drills I've been doing on the trainer. These really, really hurt; you are basically at 95%, which translates to swimming in lactic pain.

Last night I went out in all that wind and did what Shirt calls accelerations... uphill, into the wind, oh joy.

The only thing good about interval workouts is that it feels so good when you stop - and sometimes rolling around in your littlest gear recovering you see cool stuff you never notice on a hard group ride because mostly all you see then is the back of a pair of shorts. There's a black fox that lives in a culvert near the office park where I do my sprint workouts, and I sometimes see her out hunting for mice as it starts to get dark. Last night when I decided to take a break and stood in the somewhat shelter of a cottonwood to kind of regain my composure. I heard a bird scream, and there on a branch about 20 feet away from me was an enormous hawk, giving me the eye and commenting on this bizarre wheeled creature that had invaded his home. He was an impressive bird, not in the least afraid of me; I sorta got the feeling that, rather than flying away, he'd have merely ripped my arm off if I got much closer. They have really big dark eyes, I'd never noticed that before.
Vaughters is not a true "critter" anywaysRockyMountainRacer
Apr 24, 2002 8:23 AM
Hawks also have the ability to exert enough pressure with their claws to drive them through your skull quite easily ya know. They can then hold this amount of pressure for a few hours. Interesting but off subject.

These are all good workouts. Thanks Zed for the "jump and hold" on the Palmares sight. I can't wait till tomorrow to try some, but I better do a long easy ride tonight to recover.

You're very right about the long 2,000 foot climbs at LT LoneFrontRanger. That is why I did so much LT work last year--I did the winter park series where every race had over 2,000 feet of climbing per lap. Just a long TT up the mountain, then tearing down it like a madman. I'm still keeping my endurance base with one ride of at least 65 miles a week--but that was never my weakness. It's the pace changes and jumps that get me, so I will have to keep doing intensity intervals.

By the way, someone said Vaughters had been riding for 6 hours already that day. This was his "intensity work" for the day. I think that makes me feel better about the level of competition out here--if a TDF rider is doing his intensity work in a local training crit, it's got to be pretty intense.
neither is lance...merckx56
Apr 25, 2002 6:22 AM
but he punished our field at the ride for the roses crit in 1999. he and eddy gragus went off the front and put 30 secondson us like we had stopped for a coke and bag of chips! euros are mush fitter, faster and harder! period!
neither is lance...allervite
Apr 25, 2002 8:30 AM
Is that the Crit that he won after getting away with McCrae and Littlehales?
Apr 25, 2002 1:23 PM
that was in 1998. gragus beat him in the sprint in 1999. i finished in the field and threw up mightily for about 15 minutes after the race. it was 75 minutes plus 5 laps and my HRM actually STOPPED beeping at me. i was over 185 for 46 minutes! won't do that again!
Do you know ...allervite
Apr 26, 2002 3:27 PM
Terry Tupper or Dave Albrecht? They raced a few years ago domesticly and on the continet before that.
yea, well lance is a space alien end of story (nm)lonefrontranger
Apr 25, 2002 8:48 PM
Me too.allervite
Apr 24, 2002 10:14 AM
I am also addicted to the local speed training party. Here in the netherlands of Nor Cal, we call it the "Wednesday Night Ride." It is usually wickedly fast, but is more of a rolling road race than a crit. What makes it even harder is that we wait for everyone (who has not turned back) at the top of the difficult climbs and any road junctions. This allows those speed demons with "arms as big as my thighs" to catch back on, ramp it up to the low 30's, and hold it there till I am dropped or my eyes start to bleed.

One thing I have learned from these rides is that you cannot judge a book by its cover. I have seen silky smoothed, supper tanned leg, Pro kit wearing road riders turn around half way through the ride crying for their mothers. I have also seen guys on old bikes with exposed foam helmets ride away from the group while the local 1,2's just stare at each other in disbelief.

The first year I started doing these, I was dropped often, but ended up having one of the best MTB seasons ever. I attribute this success to my increased V02 Max from all the speed work.

The second year, I was rarely dropped, but my climbing suffered because of my emphasis on speed work.

So for guys like you and me, we have to balance the speed work with the strength work.

As far as intervals go, shirt has a nice program. His leg speed work helps with Efficiency (Though we MTB'ers are very efficient or we spin out and fall off). His accelerations help with Power and we could all use more of that. His Combined is what will really help you. That is pure Speed Endurace work and is exactly what we MTBer's lack the most of. We win are races by grinding away on the hills and using our polished technical skills on the fast stuff, not by getting low and pushing a big gear at a high cadence.

Bipeds Jump and Holds will really help with the accelerations, but I would not recommend racing with that tactic. A jump, attack, TT is more effective in my opinion.

I think LFR hit the nail on the head when she said that she realised she needed to work on her V02 Max efforts for crits. Crits are all about speed and holding that speed for as long as possible. It is no wonder that track Pursuiters make great crit racers.

I would also heed Shirt's advice about skipping one of those crit nights. 3 days is just too much intensity unless you are trying to peak.

I try to do my speed intervals on a hill so that I do not loose my climbing cooridination. I start out with 5 minute intervals and increase the time of the interval every week until I get up to 10 minute intervals. I also do some sustained big gear efforts on the way home.

Hope something in the above ramble helps.
Allervite, how often do you ride your mtb?RockyMountainRacer
Apr 24, 2002 11:57 AM
I live in the middle of a city with lots paved of bike trails, so I ride my road bike exclusively during the work week. And with these crits and road training, I haven't been on the mountain bike in over a month. I miss it! Do you think it's a good idea to do your uphill speed work on single track? Now that we have daylight savings time, I should probably drive the car over to some single track in Golden and ride the mtb once during the work week. What do you think?
Get on that MTB!BipedZed
Apr 24, 2002 12:14 PM
If you plan on focusing on mountain bike racing, you need to keep your skills sharp by riding trails at least once a week. Before I transitioned fully to road racing I used to have very good MTB skills. Last year in August I rode White Ranch with some friends after not being on a mountain bike for almost a year. While my fitness was great my uphill obstacle skills were so pathetic I actually toppled over at one point and broke a spoke on a rock. Needless to say I opted not to race the Winter Park Tipperary Creek race the following weekend.

In short, the road racing and training will definitely give you amazing fitness, but you have to keep the MTB skills sharp.
RMR, BipedZed, LFR, other front rangersmtber
Apr 24, 2002 12:47 PM
I usually do hill ints at White Ranch around once/wk during spring/summer- usually Wed or Thu. We should get together sometime - Ill prob hit White or Apex tomorrow.

Also, what MTB series are you doing? I do the Mtn States with some WP and Spirit of Rockies races thrown in. Next race - battle of the bear on Sat, May 4.
RMR, BipedZed, LFR, other front rangersRockyMountainRacer
Apr 24, 2002 1:06 PM
I'm focusing on the Winter Park series this year. I will do as many other Mountain States Cup and Spirit of the Rockies ones as I can, but I like the Winter Park because I don't have to travel far and it always attracts a ton of riders. Last year the smallest Sport race I did had 55 riders! I'm also doing battle at the Bear for my first mtb race this year and am already registered--what do you know about the single track at Bear Creek? I ride my road bike there a decent amount for a good endurance ride from my house, but I've yet to ride the single track (actually I didn't even know about it untill I registered for the race!). So what time are you thinking about riding tomorrow? I will be riding very slowly tonight, but I could do some intensity tomorrow.
RMR, BipedZed, LFR, other front rangersmtber
Apr 24, 2002 1:15 PM
I don't know the BTB coarse, but am trying to get a friend who did it last year to show it to me. Im pretty sure it is very flat and fast with one or two very short, steep hills thrown in. Ill let you know when we ride.

Im meeting one or 2 others tomorrow - prob btwn 4-5PM. I can fill you in tomorrow w/ time/place.
In my opinion. . .allervite
Apr 25, 2002 7:55 AM
You should spend most of your time on the MTB working on skills and most of your time on the road bike working on fitness. The reason for this is that it is esier to control pace and effort on the tarmac then on an undulating, twisty, rocky trail.

I average two rides a week on my MTB in the dirt, and they are almost always fun and easy in effort. As a race approaches, I spend more and more time on the MTB.
Me too.Mr Good
Apr 28, 2002 6:13 PM
Ditto! Three times a week is too much racing for most non-pros. Two times a week is good! You can ride more than that, but don't hammer--you need a couple days to recover from racing (by riding easy), then race again!

If I go out and do intervals by myself, I just don't force myself to the same level of intensity that real racing does. That's one reason why racing is the best training.

I've found that my best training for crits, is to do crits: one on the weekend, then the mid-week practice crit (we have 'em with primes every tuesday where I live.) At the "real" race on the weekend, I ride strategically and try to place. For the mid-week crit I attack, try to win primes, just stir up trouble and get a good workout. The rest of the week is just spinning around on the bike for fun, or miles without much intensity. More than that and I'll burn out. That's my two cents.