Ever heard this old adage? This advice refers to your training rides, asides from having a purpose (e.g. to recover, build aerobic endurance or a different energy system), are not meant to be races. You are training your body to race through progressively overloading then recovering at appropriate times.
There is always a place for ‘racing your mates’ on a training ride but what I witnessed recently gave me great joy (and despair) when experienced cyclists I rode with demonstrated that there those that subscribe to the ‘race to train’ theory.
Let me explain – recently on a 60k journey back to Christchurch after a 105k club race, these ‘experienced’ cyclists proceeded to increase the speed… continued to increase the speed… ok now we’re riding at a ‘rip my legs off’ speed. I was completely stuffed and flabbergasted at the physical ability of these guys. Great demonstration of strength and endurance but where did they come in the race? Nowhere!
This gives me joy because one of primary reasons I started cycle coaching was to educate cyclists on how to race better. I educate people to consider that if you are willing to spend a mortgage’s worth on 7kg carbon fibre machine and sacrifice precious time away from your partner/family/friends so you can achieve your physical potential, then make the effort when it really counts. Unfortunately many cyclists fear the failure of not succeeding (in a race); ‘smashing your mates’ in training, when there isn’t the pressure of competition however, does not carry such risk of failure.
I believe until you’ve experienced the euphoria that comes with winning a bike race through not only physical ability but cunning and nous, you’re less likely to risk all to come first. And this people, is the true beauty of road racing.