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July-August 2002 Newsletter

Training To Race (Racing To Train)

by Dave Stewart, VP Racing


One Sunday recently, I took advantage of Earl Jones’ ice cream ride at the Widow’s Walk. It was a beautiful day for an easy ride up the river to Utica and back. As usual, the crowd began to fragment a couple of miles into the ride. Groups formed according to their interest in pushing the pace. I suspect ability and fitness had something to do with it also. That’s how I started “racing” back when. I just wanted to be in the faster group with Bernice Martin. That was the one just up the road from where I was. I worked at it and eventually, I could take my place in that faster group.

The Racing Team uses this type of approach in its training rides, too. A mixed group of many different categories and fitness levels leaves the parking lot. The pace picks up and, if you can’t stay with the group, you end up riding with a smaller group. Some people object to being dropped. I don’t like it myself but I know that I’ll be able to stay with the faster riders if I push to do so. It might take a little while, but I’ll get there. And, if I don’t try, I’ll never get faster.

There are several summer training rides these days. Several are put on by Team Louisville and Team Louisville Red Cross. Each Tuesday night, the “Hill Jam” ride leaves at 6 PM from Prospect Point Shopping Center. If you think hills are one of your weaknesses, this is a good ride to do. You’ll lose that weakness. Any rider from any team or the touring group who wants to test their mettle in a race-type effort is welcome. The territory is familiar, so finding your way home isn’t going to be an issue.

Criterium racing is different from road racing. It demands different skills and a different type of fitness. The Thursday night Crit Practice sessions at Southeast Christian Church promote that effort. The sessions are very fast and require considerable cornering skills. For that reason, only licensed racers are able to participate. But so many of the regional races are criteriums that Thursday nights are essential toward getting the training necessary to do well in the weekend crits.

Weekend races pull a lot of racers out of town. Often not all the Team can leave town on a given weekend. So the Team runs a “home alone” race-simulation ride that leaves from Seneca Park each Saturday morning along a prescribed course. Race sections are followed by re-group sections. If people can’t make it back onto the lead group, other groups form behind and continue the race effort. All riders are welcome.

Each month, on the last Wednesday of the month, there’s a time trial at Caesar’s Casino put on by Curtis Tolson of the Swope/Texas Roadhouse team. These time trials include a Citizens class so you don’t have to be a licensed racer to test yourself against the times of others with your experience or to see how you stack up against the crème-de-la-crème of the local teams. Each session is indeed the “race of truth.” You’ll come away with a firm idea about your fitness. Each month, you’ll be able to tell how much you’ve improved.

An actual race can be a training ride if it’s not one of your training plan “A” races. There are no excuses after you step up to registration. You pay your money and pin on a number. You start the race, do your best and, afterwards, you have a good understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are. You come back to the weekly training rides to take care of those weaknesses. As time progresses, you get stronger and more skilled.

If you’ve ever thought that you’re doing pretty well in the Tuesday night club rides out of Hogan’s Fountain, the training rides are a good opportunity to step up the challenge a bit. Ever think this just might be the time to “step it up a notch?” Why don’t you give it a try?


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web posted: 12 July 2002
last updated: 14 July 2002