Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Innovative Interval Workout Gone Awry

My first experience of group riding was in New York. I lived in Manhattan (St. Mark's Place in the East Village) and periodically joined the Saturday ride that headed north to Nyack, NY with a pit stop at the Runcible Spoon Bakery. I think it took us maybe 1.5-2 hours each way. When we would almost reach the bakery, there was always a group sprint to the New Jersey state line. Even though i never won the sprint against the guys, I really enjoyed getting keyed up for the jump.

And when i lived in California, group rides there also had pre-set sprint spots (such as the funny-looking mailbox or the top of a climb) to give the ride a little flair.

But in Belgium I haven't found any rides that incorporate that little bit of mid-ride competition. In an effort to re-live those mini-sprint thrills, Jonas and I made an effort to sprint each other at every "finish line" that crosses the road during our ride.

Within the first five minutes, the score was 4-1 in my favor. Within ten minutes, it was 5-4 with Jonas taking the lead. And within twenty minutes, we were both dead! Before making plans to have this little sprinting game, I should have taken into consideration where I am. In just about every little tiny town here in Belgium (aka the country made of little towns) there are at least 2-3 permanent start/finish lines that are used for yearly road races.

Even so, we kept at it for another 2 1/2 hours. It's funny how creative people can become when they are tired and losing the "race" - or desperate to win! We became sprint-line hoes, sprinting for any random line that could fall under the category of a line. If it was white and spanned most or all of the road, then it counted. If one of us started sprinting, the other would sprint too whether or not a sprint line was spotted. At one point, I scored six lines in a row (three sets of two) in a distance of only 200 meters. I won the first two because Jonas wasn't quick enough to figure out that they could be considered sprint lines. The next two were won because he mis-shifted and the last I got by holding onto his jersey as he sped towards the lines and flung myself - track-racing style - to cross them first!

After a few more sprints, we decided not to keep track of the score any longer (I won - 27 to 24.)


Rickie Rainwater said...

Sounds fun. I've got it now, the secret to sprinting is to make sprint starts secretly as you go, and the technique of holding your friends Jersey as you pass them at the line. I've learned alot today. As soon as my laundry goes into the drier, I'm out the door on the bike. You kids play nice, or I'm telling your mother!

PEANUT said...

Is your laundry out of the dryer yet?

Rickie Rainwater said...

Laundry is out of the dryer, but I spent most of the day with my friend Larry whom suffered a stroke a year and a half ago and is doing remarkably well. It amazes me how his attitude is so very positive. He gave us a scare a month ago and we had to rush him to the emergency room, but the doctors were able to give him a shot and control his blood pressure. It is beautiful here and a perfect time for some astronomy which I won't get to as I will have to dig out the equipment and drive to a darker site in the country. Since it is very light here already early at 5:30am perhaps I can get motivated and ride in the morning. Nemo is already complaining that I don't give her enough attention!

bikesgonewild said...

...i hope to god all this talk of lines is not euphemistical double speak for that disease floating around belgium right now... know the one, tomboonenism...that apparently involves lines too...

PEANUT said...

disease in belgium? I do know that the common cold is going around right now.

gewilli said...


ah brilliant...
good way to get intervals in, without slaving away on the trainer...

bgw is referring to the cocaine...

Anonymous said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Christine!

First of all: I want to give you my compliments on this phrase you posted a few days back:

"Ik moet nu weg naar Prosperpolder voor een wedstrijd. Tot straks!

A complete and correct Dutch phrase! My compliments!

Now a reaction on your blog post.
It's pretty common here that, when your training in a group, you have so called "plaatsnaam bordjes sprints" You probably understand what I mean, but I'll give the translation for the non-Dutch reading cycling enthousiasts here ;) It's simple: On the boarder of every town/city/village you have a board which tells you, you're entering that town. Very simple: the first one to reach that sign wins.

There are always some guys who know they don't sprint that well and they don't join the sprint, but it can be a nice twist to a normal group training and most of the time there are several guys who join you in the sprint.

Veel succes met fietsen morgen!


PEANUT said...

Bedankt Michel! I like the idea of sprinting for the town signs. But don't you guys have as many dorpen (villages) as we have here in belgium? it still translates to a boatload of sprints!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I know this reaction is a little late, but I'll post it anyway!

Most of the time, when sprinting for townsigns, you decide at forehand with the group for which signs you are going to sprint.

Most groups have a couple of routes they ride regularly and in that routes a number of signs where they always sprint.

Sprinting for all the townsigns would be too much indeed!

Slaap lekker!


PEANUT said...

hey Michel:
It's never too late to comment on a post! Maybe i'll take your advice and decide on what will be sprint points BEFORE the ride starts. That way i have something left for race day!

Anonymous said...

Decide at forehand which places you're going to sprint looks quite normal to me.

Most of the time you also decide at forehand what will be your training route for that day or what (small) climbs you want to do for that day, so why not decide on which places to sprint?

And if you're riding, you can also decide/discus with the ones you are training with, to do some extra sprints, if you know there are some townsigns or other "landmarks" are coming up.

For example (I just made this up now) choose a 'codeword' with the group (sprint for example?) if you want to do an extra sprint for an upcomming sign, and see if there are some guys (or girls) who feel like joining you in the sprint!

Maybe also fun to practice (depends on how big the group is) find some guys to make a "train" (?)(In Dutch the say for example: het quickstep treintje) to guide you into a longer sprint. Decide who is going to do the final sprint and start it at 1,5-2 km before the sign. Just let everyone ride flat out and see if they can place you (or you them) at a perfect jump-distance for the sign.

This way everyone can train flat-out and you also make it a group effort (even if you're not sprinting anyone else) which is good for the moral!

If you're only with two, you can also practice this and swap the roles after each sprint. This way you can train/try to get a really high topspeed! (also a good way to learn what the perfect distance is for you, to place the final jump.)

Damn...... I'm writing longer and longer messages! Hope you didn't fall asleep when reading it ;)

Groetjes vanuit een zonnig Nederland!