When we’ll race our bikes again, no one really knows. So we thought it would a great time to help our listeners at least daydream about racing with this episode. Specifically, we’re discussing how to be aggressive, and when to be aggressive, in races. And we’re doing it with none other than the current national road champion, Ruth Winder, who we caught up with many months ago. Despite the halted season, we decided now was the right time to release this episode. If you didn’t catch Ruth’s victory at nationals last year, give it a watch. It’s a classic nail-biting effort that resulted in a career-defining moment. About midway through the episode, you’ll also hear Ruth describe in her own words how the race played out, and the mentality she used to breakaway, and stay away, from a star-studded field to claim her first stars and stripes jersey as an elite racer. It’ll help you understand a bit more about what it takes to make an aggressive approach pay off.
How do you know when to launch your move? What’s the difference between creativity and aggression? What mindset do you need to be aggressive? We answer those questions and many more. Today we’ll also hear from elite coach and a longtime former pro racer Julie Young, as well as one of the best American riders of his generation, Brent Bookwalter. A few final notes before we jump into the show. Find us on social media: our handle is @fasttalklabs. Sign up for our newsletter to get special announcements on new episodes, learn about Zwift rides with famous guests, and much more by visiting www.fasttalklabs.com. Also, please rate and review us on Apple podcasts: the more reviews we get, the easier it is for others to find us. And tell all your friends that we have our own channel now and we’ll no longer be heard on the VeloNews channel. Finally, as always, thanks again for all your questions and comments. Keep them coming! Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, get your knives out. Sharpen up those elbows. Be aggressive. B-E aggressive. Let’s make you fast!
Chris Case 00:06
Welcome, everyone to Fast Talk your source for the science of cycling performance. I’m your host Chris Case. Today, we actually take a step away from the science and talk race tactics. When will race again? No one really knows. So we thought it would be a great time to help our listeners at least daydream about racing with this episode. Specifically, we’re discussing how to be aggressive when to be aggressive in races, and we’re doing it with none other than the current national road champion Ruth Winder, who we caught up with many months ago. Despite the halted season, we decided now was the time to release this episode. And if you didn’t catch Ruth’s victory at Nationals last year, give it a watch. It’s a classic nail biting effort that resulted in a career defining moment. About midway through this episode, you’ll also hear Ruth describing her own words, how the race played out, and the mentality she used to break away and stay away from a star studded field. To claim her first stars and stripes jersey as an elite racer, will help you understand a bit more about what it takes to make an aggressive approach pay off. How do you know when to launch a move? What’s the difference between creativity and aggression? What mindset do you need to be aggressive? We answer those questions and many more today. Also, in this episode, we hear from elite coach and longtime former pro racer, Julian as well as one of the best American rider of his generation Brent Bookwalter. Finally, we hear from physiologist Jared Berg from the University of Colorado Sports Medicine, and Performance Center. A few final notes before we jump into the show, find us as always on social media, our handle is @realfastlabs. Sign up for our newsletter to get special announcements on new episodes, learn about swift rides with famous guests, and much more by visiting Fast Talk Labs.com. Also, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. The more reviews we get, the easier it is for others to find us and tell all your friends that we have our own channel now and will no longer be heard on the Velonews channel. So they should find us right here on the Fast Talk channel. Finally, as always, thanks again for all of your questions and comments. Keep them coming. Write us at Fast Talk @fasttalklabs.com. Now, get your knives out. Sharpen up those elbows. Be aggressive, be aggressive. Let’s make you fast. I’m really happy to have you here with us today. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor your national champion. It was way back in June has it has that faded?
Ruth Winder 02:51
Oh no. I rode for Trek. We have a high verse training kit that was there all the time. But then sometimes I am break the rules and I went my national championship jersey and today I wore it and it’s my “slow it down, see that jersey?” It’s pretty fun. It’s pretty special.
Trevor Connor 03:07
So are you gonna get the team kit with the the champion stripes on the arm?
Ruth Winder 03:11
Uh they gave me a full kit. So I have for every road race I enter I have a full stars and striped jersey that I wear every
Chris Case 03:17
Ruth Winder 03:18
Chris Case 03:18
And for the rest of time, you could opt to have red, white, and blue on the sleeves. Probably?
Ruth Winder 03:24
Yeah after. I mean, we’ll see June can try and have another go at it. Exactly.
Chris Case 03:29
Ruth Winder 03:29
Chris Case 03:29
Let it slip out of your hands just yet.
Ruth Winder 03:31
Chris Case 03:31
Could be yours again.
Ruth Winder 03:33
I mean, that’s everybody always tries every year, right?
Chris Case 03:36
Ruth Winder 03:36
It’s one of those things that you try every year but yout not really so sure it’s definitely going to happen.
Ruth Winder 03:40
Yep. It’s pretty cool. And it did.
Why National Champion Ruth Winder is Called Rambo
Chris Case 03:42
Now I want to bring in a little personal anecdote that will help set the stage perhaps for this episode doesn’t go hand in hand. It’s not a direct relationship, but I think people will like to know that your nickname is Rambo.
Ruth Winder 03:58
Yeah, I have been called Rambo before.
Chris Case 04:01
I don’t know if it’s a full fledged nickname or not. But yes, you’ve been called Rambo. Would you like to tell the story of how that came to be?
Ruth Winder 04:07
Um, essentially a Polish mechanic on the national team that gave that to me a couple years ago. Probably like 2000 I don’t know. 11
Chris Case 04:16
Oh, wow. That’s not that long ago
Ruth Winder 04:17
A while ago. Yeah. He started calling me Rambino now too, which is a little a little different, but honestly, not too many people call it to me, so I’m surprised that it’s like made it around honestly. But no Rambo. It just came he-he said to me he’s like all Rambo. He would always give all the girls on the team a nickname and mine was apparently Rambo, because he said when I came back from a race I either had my blood or somebody else’s on me.
Chris Case 04:44
Personally, I feel like it’s an awesome nickname. I don’t know how
Ruth Winder 04:46
I don’t dislike it
Chris Case 04:48
Ruth Winder 04:48
Chris Case 04:49
Good. And it’s appropriate because today we’re talking about aggressive racing.
Ruth Winder 04:53
When to be Aggressive When Racing
Chris Case 04:55
So sometimes the the the knives come out, and well obviously we’re not talking about being aggressive by elbowing people. Not necessarily maybe. But we’re talking about aggressive tactics, aggressive racing, when to be aggressive, how to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, when it’s different from being creative, all of those things. So it’s also I think, this is your forte, if I’m not putting words in your mouth, this is what you like to do. Your race is slow.
Ruth Winder 05:24
Yeah, I really like to race and I like call it just having fun. Almost sometimes you before a race, like, some races are really you can kind of predict what’s going to happen when and where and some is just like, alright, let’s just go and play and go for it. Like that kind of aggressive style of racing that suits me really well, I think.
Chris Case 05:40
Yeah. Yeah. Well, tell us about that. How did you come to know that that was for you? Was it? Is it based on skill? Or is it just because that’s more fun? Or is it both?
Ruth Winder 05:52
I grew up with bike racing, especially in watching it on the TV. So I think that there is to some degree, a level of knowledge and maybe like natural talent that comes with reading a race and knowing when to race and I also think growing up, I wasn’t always the fastest right off the bat. So to win, I had to be a little bit smarter than my component. So-so I, yeah, I think it just was kind of came from that really just having wanting to win really badly and having to be smart about how I won. And so bracing aggressively and try to get up the road at a different part of the race is kind of I think where it comes from?
Chris Case 06:28
Ruth Winder 06:29
Chris Case 06:30
And we should say that we have a pro in the studio today, we’ve gotten some feedback from our listeners that it’s awesome to hear from pros. But it doesn’t always apply to them.
Ruth Winder 06:43
Chris Case 06:44
Whether it’s the training or other aspects, but I think in this instance, people love to play people race their bikes to have fun to play, they don’t all have the sprint. So if you’re just sitting in and you don’t have a sprint, probably not going to win a race.
Ruth Winder 06:58
The Proper Mindset for Racing Aggressively
Chris Case 06:59
So hopefully today, we can bring out some of those things you figured out. You’re small, you don’t have that powerful sprint, necessarily, but you figured out based on your body type your physiology, how to win races by being aggressive, and hopefully that can help others. Yeah. Trevor caught up with Julie Young in elite coach and former pro racer to discuss the proper mindset for racing aggressively in addressing some of the common issues racers have when it comes to being aggressive.
Trevor Connor 07:36
If you’re coaching an athlete, who seems to be resistant to be an aggressive, who tends to sit in the field and miss the moves, how do you work with them? Is it a training thing? Is it a mental thing? Is it a bit of both? And and how do you work with that?
Julie Young 07:52
Sport? You know, like, for me, I think that training is where you gain your confidence like that, mentally and physically. You can do those kind of things. But I also feel like racing, when you’re successful. It’s very intuitive, and instinctual. And I think for me, it’s like helping riders be really in tune to that little voice and listening and doing as opposed to listening and hesitating. Umm- so I think for me, that’s that’s a big, big part of it. I also think for those riders like to understand why are they fearful to ride like, with more abandoned, and I think there’s obviously like this, this balance of if you want to, like, conserve, when you can conserve and make your moves count. But I also, you know, with the with that rider that’s a bit more tentative or holding back, it’s like, well, why, you know, I think giving them that license, like, hey, every race is an opportunity to learn, every race is an opportunity to challenge yourself. You know, when you try you learn when you try you gain fitness, and that’s the only way you learn is by trying so and I think helping them understand like, it’s it’s not a, you know, one race is not going to be your make or break, but it’s going to help you gain experience. And hopefully, you know, that kind of alleviates that pressure that perhaps is holding them back in those situations.
Trevor Connor 09:17
That’s a great way to frame it, which probably also answers the second part of this question of every athlete I’ve coached has asked me this. Well, what happens if I attack and I get caught? Because that seems to be one of the biggest fears that prevents people from attacking.
Julie Young 09:35
And again, for me, it’s like, gosh, you know, this much overused, but really, this is all a process. And again, I think the more you try, the more you learn. And I mean, obviously some some people maybe are too aggressive and they’re kind of burning matches. So we have to temper that we have to learn like okay, it’s the person that’s the most clever, that conserves when they should conserve and really makes those attacks count. But you know what, at the end of the day, what’s the what’s the loss? There’s nothing loss, you know, like, we’re just we have to try. And that’s, again, kind of alleviating that pressure of there’s, like, I think it’s that fear of failure, but nothing is failure. It’s just feedback and learning.
What Happens When you Attack and Get Caught
Trevor Connor 10:18
That’s a great way to frame it. And that also leads to the second question, what about that other athlete who’s too aggressive, the one who you talked to before the race and say, I want you to sit in the field for the first hour, and then try to go in to move. And sure enough, one minute into the race, they’re, they’re going up the road?
Julie Young 10:36
Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, because I really I respect, like, I respect that kind of rider, you know, because they don’t have any fear, but but also helping them understand like to finish it off. You know, riding is not necessarily the strongest person that wins. It’s the person that’s, you know, intelligent. And again, it conserves when they can conserve, pick, take one gear lighter when they’re sitting in the group and, you know, really thinks about everything in the race, the terrain, the wind conditions, uses everything, to their advantage to really make that move, count to succeed. So, you know, hopefully, again, through experience that that rider starts realizing, gosh, this is not working, you know, I’m going off the front, but I’m, I’m not putting it together. And I’m not coming away with the win. So hopefully, you know, again, through experience, you can help them understand to like, kind of re-reconnoiter their strategy.
Why Aggression Might be the Right Approach for You
Chris Case 11:32
Let’s get back to our conversation with Ruth, where we dive into why aggression might be the right approach for you.
Trevor Connor 11:39
So question I want to ask because you kind of hinted at this. So for example, I’m also I race aggressively. And that’s for one simple reason. If I come to the line with three people, I finished third, I have zero sprint, I go backwards. So if I want to win a race, I got to arrive at the line solo, so that by nature means I have to be an aggressive rider. Yeah, so the question I have for you, it sounds like you’re a little bit like me, that you’re you’re you’re probably not gonna win a big field sprint, but is being an aggressive rider something that, you know, you have to look at your assets and go, okay, that’s a type of rider and therefore I should race aggressively? Or do you feel that some level of being aggressive is necessary to win a race no matter what.
Ruth Winder 12:25
That’s a good question. For someone who is a really, really true sprinter, then maybe they don’t necessarily have to race that way, like someone who knows that if they put themselves in the right position at the right time that they can win. But I don’t think there’s that many people out there that can say that confidently. So yeah, I think that like everybody should be trying to go into a race, seeing how they can win the best way that they can win. And obviously, if you come down to a field sprint and you’re one of 50, then your odds are much lower than your fear up the road.
Trevor Connor 12:55
You could probably say even with a sprinter, even though for 160 K or however long the race is, they don’t need to be aggressive. But that last kilometer, they probably have to be super aggressive-
Ruth Winder 13:06
Super aggressive. They have to put themselves in the right spot at the right time, for sure.
Chris Case 13:10
It’s slightly different type of aggressive, but they have to be aggressive. Yeah, you can’t let people push you around. You can’t not take the wheel that you want to take that sort of thing.
Ruth Winder 13:19
Yeah, and I’ve not been like the main sprinter very many times. But there’s been a handful of times where it’s like, alright, all hope is like – we can’t be aggressiv anymore. We’re not getting off the front. It’s not happening. It’s time to just like see what you can do in a sprint kind of a thing. I’ve not been there that often, but I have been laid out go quite a lot. And it’s very stressful. You know, fighting with one girl in the curb kind of a thing you like, Who’s gonna win?
Is There a Time, Place, and Benefit to Being Aggressive?
Trevor Connor 13:43
Is there a benefit? And I have some thoughts on this. But I’m gonna ask you if you have somebody who’s mostly recreational maybe they do a grandfondo maybe they go to the Saturday morning throw down, but they’re not doing that much in the way of big organized races. Is there a time and a place and a benefit to being a aggressive?
Ruth Winder 14:06
Do you mean on the group rides?
Trevor Connor 14:07
Chris Case 14:08
Just for the fun of it
Ruth Winder 14:09
Just for the fun of it. I think group rides are always fun. I think that is it has to be when you go on a group ride you have to understand the rules of the group ride like every group ride share has like a theme or okay, we go hard between this stop sign in this stop sign type of thing. So don’t be the person that’s a douche on the group by just attacking in a random spot. But I think like that’s kind of part of the fun and fun of the learning as well. Like you can learn how hard you can go to push yourself like at what point and on the climbs or on on the downhills around a corner or how long and you can hold something so I think it’s definitely worth trying on a group ride.
Chris Case 14:43
I think this is one of those things that can be hard to explain because there’s some quote art to it. And when you get into that it’s, well how do I know when and how do I understand and read the group dynamic and things like that, but Is that the case? Is there some guesswork? Is there some art? Is it based on a lot of experience? Is it all of those things rolled into one?
Ruth Winder 15:09
Oh, must give me all of those things rolled into one. I think that I think one of the best, best times to attack is probably like when you’re hurting the most, because if you’re hurting, then probably everybody else is hurting. At least that’s what I like to try.
Chris Case 15:24
I’ve heard I’ve heard that montra before. So you know, actually employee that huh?
Ruth Winder 15:28
I have I have and it has worked for me in the past. It worked me at a stage race I did in the Czech Republic, I was just dying 100 everybody was and it worked out really well, because then I attacked. And then I got a gap and I held it solo to the line. But then at Nationals, it was kind of when I got my gap that it was much more of like a tactical type play, like one of my teammates had just done a really hard attack. And so everybody was a bit tired. And then we just exited the feed zone. And we had about 20 miles to go. But that I like was really sneaky about it. Like I didn’t try not to be really obvious, especially in a race when everybody’s watching you kind of a thing like you have to be smart about who’s watching you and when they expect you to go. So maybe you don’t want to attack on the climb because everybody’s gonna just expect you to attack on the climb. Something like that-
Chris Case 16:16
Right- right? Well, let’s let’s hold off on digging too deep into your nationals win, because I think we should pick that apart as a good example. But going back to your point about attacking when you’re hurting the most –
Ruth Winder 16:29
Chris Case 16:29
I feel like that is it is a thing you hear. So it’s not the least obvious. It’s there’s some, it’s predictable in some way that somebody might attack when that’s happening. But at the same time, if you can give just a little bit more than everybody else that’s hurting psychologically, I think that’s what comes into play a lot there. Physiologically, everybody’s hurting psychologically, if you can just say, you know what, if I get away, everybody back there is just going to say, ah, hell with it, I can’t do this.
Trevor Connor 17:01
But let’s take a step back there. Because that’s a really important point that some people really struggle with, when you’re in a race or even on the group ride and you’re really hurting. There, you can quickly slip into that mindset of “Oh my God, I’m hurting. How’s everybody else stronger than me?” And you always have to remember, if you’re hurting, everybody else is hurting too. And you have to keep telling yourself that because it’s easy to lose it I have a lot of athletes I coach who will come back after a race or after a key ride and just say I just don’t get it. We’re all together. But I was dying. And I had to have that talk with them about everybody else was dying too. If there was anybody there who wasn’t dying. They’re gonna win. So don’t worry about that.
Chris Case 17:44
Right? It brings up the poker face, I guess how much is the poker face play into this? Looking like you’re not hurting as much as the other people.
Ruth Winder 17:52
Yeah, a little bit of that, for sure. And I think just like the gamble at some point, you know, you have to try. You have to take the gamble. And maybe when everyone else is hurting, they do like look at each other a bit more and think, oh, I’ll let him chase or her chase or whatever. Like, it won’t be okay, just when you’re so fresh at the beginning of the race. Everyone’s just like, Oh, I’m on it. I’m on it. I’m on it. But then when everyone starts to get tired, it’s like, oh, maybe they’ll do it instead of me kind of a thing. And that’s often what creates the gap is just like people looking each other.
How to Mentally Shut out the Pain of the Race
Chris Case 18:19
Have you worked much on the sports psychology side of things to improve that component of your-
Ruth Winder 18:25
My poker face?
Chris Case 18:26
No- no, your your ability to shut out the pain mentally to say, everybody, you know, just to move beyond that thought of not now the next move I’ll go just to be ready at all times to deal with the pain.
Ruth Winder 18:41
Yes, I have worked with a couple of sports psychologists over the years and we with one a few years ago when I was especially leading up to the Olympics with track racing when you’re seeing when it’s just like going as hard as you possibly can go for four minutes when I was doing the team pursuit. We worked a lot on just like being in the moment specifically and just focusing on the how hard you can pedal in that current moment rather than thinking of how hard you can pedal in one split second from now. So just like constantly thinking like, how much can I do right now, don’t think about how much you’re going to hurt if you have to follow an attack just like constantly just peddling now, instead of the future in any capacity. So I think that can be somewhat helpful in that situation.
Chris Case 19:20
Ruth Winder 19:21
Chris Case 19:21
Any other tips?
Ruth Winder 19:25
I don’t know if-
Chris Case 19:26
that’s a good one. That’s a good one.
Ruth Winder 19:27
Some people like to count. Some people like to count I just say I just honestly repeat right here right now right here right now. Just like repeat that to myself and having something to focus on rather than your pain is helpful. I had a teammate that did the alphabet, which I was always like, how do you I would get to like C and then fall off, you know, so yeah-
Chris Case 19:45
Counting sheet. The next one you hear of.
Trevor Connor 19:47
I always use telephone poles and trees.
Ruth Winder 19:50
Trevor Connor 19:51
I just look up the road see a telephone pole and just go get into their into their get to there. Then it’s easy got there. You looked up the road, looked at the next one and went okay, now get That one.
Ruth Winder 20:00
That’s funny. Yeah, I was riding with Mara Abbot one time, up Sunshine Canyon, and they have those big blue barrels on the side.
Trevor Connor 20:05
Ruth Winder 20:06
And she kept being like, just get to the next one just like how many frickin barrels on this ride? Mara’s like nose breathing and I look like deaths next to her. But yeah, that’s a good that she, I assume uses that frequently as well. So-
How do you Know What Tactic is For You?
Chris Case 20:22
I don’t know that we we’ve fully covered how you came to understand that this is for you. Was it just through trial and error? When you were racing as a junior?
Ruth Winder 20:32
Yeah I guess like being tactical because I wasn’t the strongest always was just like, trying to win that way. I have a really good memory actually racing against Coryn as a Junior-
Chris Case 20:43
Ruth Winder 20:44
Coryn Rivera, who is very, very fast sprinter. And we were track nationals. And she’d won probably everything up until probably scratch race. And it was 21 laps. And I was just like, I either, I either was like half, I have to try and make the world championship team. I had to win a race. It’s like, how do I how do I be? How do I be here. And so I had to just be really smart about it. And I worked with my coach at the time who was Hobie nets. And he was just like, on the phone with me literally, like I had to put the phone down because I was writing onto the track to stop the race. And it’s just like, you just had to really be small because she’s so much stronger than me at that time in our lives. Like she was just such a dominant Junior race and still as a dominant race. And now that you just I just had to be that small to try and win. And I did end up winning. But I as soon as the gun went up for that race I attacked. And basically I just I just kept attacking, like I just didn’t stop attacking. And it was 21 laps. So it’s not the longest race ever. But you know, I just had to think how am I going to beat her. And so the only option I had was had was to either like lose the race off the bat, like three laps down because I was so exhausted, or to just attack her so many times that eventually, she could couldn’t keep following on. look to other people to follow kind of a thing. And eventually she looked at other people to follow and they didn’t and then I went off the front. So national. So I learned the lesson really, really young, I think and I think just being kind of a general like a really good athlete, but not necessarily head and shoulders and good at one specific aspect of cycling. So like my sprinting is okay, my climbing is pretty good. But like not I’m not a mountain right up by any means. So just being like an overall all rounder, I think you kind of have to take opportunity where you can find it.
Trevor Connor 22:26
You talked about tactical, you said you’re very tactical, you learn to be very smart. So one of the questions I might be jumping the gun a little bit here, but I really want to get to and ask you is in some ways, attacking really early, like doing what you talked about earlier of tacking right off the gun.
Ruth Winder 22:46
Trevor Connor 22:47
That’s not necessarily a smart move.
Ruth Winder 22:50
No, because like I said, like I had to either I knew I was gonna lose off the back or went off the front. So no, it’s not always smart. But sometimes you don’t have a choice. Like at that point. It was one of our last races of nationals. And I’m like, well, I either win and I can’t go down to a sprint. Like, we all knows currents gonna just outspread me so-
Trevor Connor 23:06
Right. So you have to try something. But there’s the dumb move that you have to do to win. So it’s kind of the smart, dumb move. And then there’s just the dumb dumb. What’s the difference?
The “Smart but Dumb Rule”
Ruth Winder 23:22
I mean, I think the fact that all races only 21 laps long made a big difference to my move there. So like maybe if you were the person that’s going to attack like lap number one on my criteria, that’s an hour long. That might be a little dumb like, unless you know that you I don’t know anime glam balloon, who attacks hundred kilometers, this line of road welds, like I don’t really know that many people that can do it. So I think just reading the situation a little bit in that scenario.
Trevor Connor 23:47
So what do you look for? How do you know when now’s the time to be aggressive versus now I’m just killing myself being aggressive.
Ruth Winder 23:56
Honestly, I think that knowing yourself and the distance from the finish line makes a big difference. So you have to know yourself. And you’ll know how long you can go personally. And you have to know your competitors. And how much you think that their willingness to chase you down at a certain point won’t be so trying to like pick the right moment. If it is at the very start of the race. If you think everyone’s gonna look at you and be like, oh, that dumb. And then what you rode, then maybe it is done, but maybe it works. But maybe you also know your competitors are not gonna let you do that. So then wait for a later point in the race.
Chris Case 24:28
There’s always risk involved.
Ruth Winder 24:29
Chris Case 24:30
to being aggressive.
Ruth Winder 24:30
There is always a gamble-
Chris Case 24:31
And sometimes, yeah, sometimes the dumb dumb move turns out to be a smart move. Only in retrospect, because it was like one in a million chance and it worked out. But there’s that risk, even with the smart dumb move, so to speak.
Ruth Winder 24:48
Yeah, I think so.
Chris Case 24:49
And you just have to weigh that if you can when you’re cross eyed and everybody else’s cross eyed in a race. Simple.
Trevor Connor 24:58
Now there’s something that was something I’d and I don’t know if this applies at your level. But something I tell some of the Masters athletes, some of the cat three and four riders that I coach is, they’ll often look at a course profile and go, “oh, right there, that’s like 15 miles from the finish, there’s a little hill, that’s the place to break away.”
Ruth Winder 25:18
Trevor Connor 25:19
And what I always tell him, if you look at the course and find that ideal place to break away, everybody else in the field has seen that spot. And if you attack there, all you’re going to do is speed up the field because everybody’s attacking.
Ruth Winder 25:29
Trevor Connor 25:30
So there is a little bit of what I always tell him is look for the place where other people are gonna think twice about going with you.
Ruth Winder 25:36
Yeah. Or if you know, you’re like, okay, this, this is a really good point to attack and you probably think that one of your competitors will attack then then just be really aware of it and try and get on that wheel and then counter, like, maybe someone goes at the bottom of the small roller. And what’s an even better place to go is over the top of a roller because people get to the top. And if you’ve not attacked yet, then it’s like, oh, maybe we’ll just like sit up kind of over the top as we get ready for the descent, but then maybe it’s better to just kind of counter off, someone will go right at the very, very top of the hill rather at the bottom of the hill.
Chris Case 26:07
Why don’t we have you describe because because it’s arguably your biggest win your national championship win. People may or may not have seen it based on where they were in the world, and the coverage and all of that. But take us through that day, in the context of reading the race, using teammates being both creative and aggressive. And in that context of all the things we’re trying to express here.
Ruth Winder’s Big National Win
Ruth Winder 26:37
Nationals is one of those races, that it’s really it’s an odd race, because everybody’s watching everybody. And there are some US teams that have maybe six girls and then there’ll be the European girls that don’t have any teammates, because they race on European teams and all that teammates European. So-
Chris Case 26:55
It’s more like local racing.
Ruth Winder 26:56
Ruth Winder 26:57
It is. Um, and so you’ll have like five girls really watching each other because they you know, there’ll be Coryn from Sunweb. And then me and Taylor from Track and then Alexis Ryan from Canyon, and then they’ll be yeah, six Huygens Bowman. All –
Chris Case 26:57
In a way-
Chris Case 27:10
Ruth Winder 27:11
Who all can all equally play in the game, and then the rest of the field and always some 2020 riders that are strong, and Chloe and Jen and some other really good women. So it’s kind of just like this game of everybody watching everybody. And it really is really beneficial to have a teammate. Last last year when I was Coryn’s teammate actually, like she, we really worked well together. And I could really help her come down to a field sprint, but it like without a teammate, she would have to chase everything. So going into this year, I kind of knew that already. I’m like, well, Coryn is alone this year. And I have a teammate and Taylor and Taylor and I both knew that we can’t take her into the line, or Alexis Ryan or Emma White, because they’re all super fast sprinters. So we knew that we were going to have to try and get away somehow. And Taylor is super strong climber. So she was going really hard up the climb, thinking that that would kind of string everybody out and make it challenging. And even myself, I was back like, Taylor, I need you to slow down like I was so bad of that climb. So at Nationals we do for anybody that didn’t watch the race, we do a circuit, which we did seven times that has, I think it’s about a five minute climb, it’s fairly steep. And then after that, we have a pretty steep, somewhat technical descent, that then drops you out onto kind of this highway road. So you have a hard climb, and then a pretty fast descent. And so Taylor had been going really hard up the climb to just try and string it out. And then I didn’t. So typically, when a teammate goes really hard, then the as soon as that person is brought back and comes back to the field, the second there’s the low, you need to the the thing is to attack to go right away, which I knew everybody would be waiting for. Because that’s like what everybody does, like you just do that. So I waited past that point. And nobody else went, which was there was already a small break way up the road. At this point. Actually, there was already I think three or four riders on the road. But when Taylor had gone really hot up the climb. I think everybody else was just like kind of stopped and started to look at each other like, oh, you’re gonna go you’re gonna go. And nobody did. And then I waited past that low and then I came up to Taylor and I made sure I did it in a way so that there wasn’t somebody on my wheel that I knew would be able to, to chase me down immediately. And this person was Katie. I knew Katie was on my wheel and I have a bunch. Like when I attack with speed, I have quite a lot of speed. And Katie is a fantastic climate but doesn’t Katie doesn’t have as much speed when she attacks. So I thought, okay, Katie’s on my wheel. But I came alongside Taylor and I just made it look like I was going to have a conversation with Taylor, which I didn’t I just asked her she was okay. And she was like, yeah, I’m okay. Which honestly, when I went it’s one of those things that I’m like, well, I’m going to go because Taylor is just everybody’s on the limit a little bit here. Like she’s just done pretty hard over this climb. It’s a good chance because it’s definitely a low like nope, people were not paying as much attention right now, it was still 21 miles from the finish. So it’s still fairly long way to go. So people gonna be like, we’ll get her like she has kind of a thing. So I kind of in my mind was like, well, this is a good time to go to set up Taylor, honestly, I was like Taylor was feeling so strong on that climb, like, I’m just gonna go and then when I get brought back to and then Taylor and I can go again on the climb or anything like that, like that’s what I was thinking at that time. But then I, I don’t normally look at my power when I’m racing. But then after that, I switched my power meter so that I could see the screen with my power, so that I knew that I was riding within myself at a fairly good speed. And eventually, I caught the couple of girls that were off the front, which was really good, because then I was able to get some recovery and work with them a little bit. And then going over the climb, only one girl stayed with me. And then which was also good to have someone with me for some period of time.
Chris Case 30:51
Ruth Winder 30:52
And I was really wanting to be with her. So that was really good. And she was really working hard. And –
Chris Case 30:57
it’s a little bit of a mental boost for that period of time. Yeah.
Ruth Winder 31:01
Yep. And then it was just like the gap got filled. I don’t even remember how big it got now maybe a minute and a half or something like a cut fit like fairly big. And then with one lap to go it’s funny on the courses this out and back section. So I could see in the follow call was Taylor-Taylor Wiles wife, Olivia. And then my boyfriend, Zack was in the car. And my week you’re on radios at Nationals, but my radio hadn’t been working. So I hadn’t heard anything. But then I just could see them in the cars we went like, as we doubled back on the course. And they were just out of the car, banging on the car, like, come on, keep going, keep going. And at this point, like for the last lap, I just went as hard as I could. And I eventually dropped the girl that I was with, and I changed my power back from with a lot with a lot to go, I changed it back. So I couldn’t see the power anymore. And I was just staring at the white line on the road doing that right here right now moment. Yes, going as fast as I could go and just keep pushing on the pedals as hard as I could go. And the field was getting like really, really close behind me, actually, like they got when I was probably like three miles from the finish. I looked behind me and I was like, Okay, any moment now they’re going to catch me like, it’s just gonna be a matter of time, but will like three miles to go. So I can’t stop like you have to keep going. You have to keep going. And then when we got to the last mile, I knew we had a few turns. And so I was literally just sprinting between every turn just like using the corner as recovery. And just like you could breathe when you get to the corner but I was like you sprint between every corner. And then yeah, by cross the line just in front of Coryn. And I just was couldn’t believe it.
Chris Case 32:30
So you’ve just dissected your aggressive move to win nationals. And you’ve probably relive-relived that. Countless times. Yeah. So you’re looking back on it now, is it from the outside a, an attac that’s brilliant? Or an attack? That was dumb that just happened to work?
Ruth Winder 32:54
Oh, I really think it was both when I think about it, because I didn’t think it would work. And I think that a lot came into play with how the field was acting behind me, right? Because I think it was a really good attack on my part. I think the way when I attacked and I really thought about how I was going to attack, like, attacked at a part that wasn’t just after the climb, but sometime had gone by I was tactical about where I put myself in the field when I attacked to make sure the people that I didn’t want on my wheel weren’t on my wheel, and things like that. So I think all of those parts of the attack were like very thought about and I did what I wanted to do, and I achieve what I wanted to do, but the fact that it worked. It was kind of dumb. Like I don’t know how it worked. And but it did work and-
Chris Case 33:37
Ruth Winder 33:37
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, looking back my power fall, I had like some pretty good numbers. And yeah, it was one of my best one hour powers with one of my best one, twenty minute powers at the end of that hour. So like, it was I was having a really good day on the bike. There’s no denying that too. But it was actually a really, I’ve been able to go back and watch like the last, I don’t know a couple miles of the race. And it’s like a pretty exciting race. They get so close, they get so close too.
Trevor Connor 34:03
Ruth Winder 34:04
And then they and then it just lets go again. And then it gets close. And then let’s go again. So just kind of also depends not just on yourself, but how you anticipate the other, the rest of the people in the field. And it’s just kind of how nationals works and the people and the fact that people don’t have as many teammates in that race, because everybody just starts to look at everybody else. I’m like what you do it? Well, you do it or you do it, although get organized for a minute, and then someone else will attack and then it like messes up the organization of the chase. And
Chris Case 34:32
So in some ways, it’s never easy to win by attacking 21 miles out?
Ruth Winder 34:38
Chris Case 34:38
But it’s probably easier in a race with that situation. those circumstances where there’s a lot of people are racing as individuals or with maybe one or two teammates and people are looking at each other rather than in a race where a big team can just say you know what, it’s time to bring Ruth back and they just go to the front.
Ruth Winder 34:55
Chris Case 34:56
Bring it back.
Ruth Winder 34:56
Chris Case 34:57
So it in some ways. It’s applicable, more applicable to local racing, amateur racing, masters racing.
Ruth Winder 35:05
Chris Case 35:06
In that way.
Ruth Winder 35:06
You were saying eariler, it’s like gamble a little bit like you don’t know, unless you try and kind of a thing. And I was lucky to have a teammate and Taylor that if I had come back, like I had that backup of Taylor being able to maybe go.
Chris Case 35:17
Trevor Connor 35:18
I’ve said this on the show before. And as a breakaway rider, the thing that I really learned is, if a field really wants to bring somebody back, a field can always bring back a solo rider. So the art of breaking away is convincing the field not to bring you back. Somehow to convince them to let you win. And what I really loved about your description is how thoughtful you were about that whole process right down to the going up and pretending to talk to your teammate and then attacking to catch people off guard not going at the moment that everybody expected. But just after that, and that even though you were being aggressive, it was very thought out and set you up in that situation where the field would be looking at one another, they were tired, they just gone up a climb hard and kind of going, “Well, you want to chase her, I don’t want to chase her”, giving you that gap. But then there was a certain point where it seems like it just turned around, and it was about putting your head down and hurting and just surviving into the end. And whether they’re a minute back or five seconds back. I don’t care because I’m just gonna go until I die.
Ruth Winder 36:25
Yeah, I mean, at some point, I didn’t have a choice anymore. I was like, well, I committed to this one aren’t we Ruth. Head down, keep giong.
Chris Case 36:32
Honestly that that segues really well into something else I wanted to address, which was to be a racer, who wins this way. You can’t just have the ability to get away from the field, you have to have the ability to stay away from the field, you have to have that time to time trailers mentality and ability to really put your head down, grid it out and go for it. So what are the types of things you have to train to be this aggressive type of racer?
Ruth Winder 37:07
I mean, it’s just suffering really. Just like you just have to-
Trevor Connor 37:12
Just go out-
Ruth Winder 37:12
Cycling is pain. Cycling is pain. It’ what Mirik, the Polish mechanic gave me my nickname used to say to me Rambo, Cycling is pain. And I was like, Okay.
Chris Case 37:22
In a nutshell
Ruth’s Take on Breakaways
Ruth Winder 37:23
Yes, basically, I think, like we were talking about a little bit just like being in the moment and suffering that way is, is quite a lot of it. When you’re in a breakaway with other people. And maybe you’re not the best climber in the group, it’s actually probably better that you pull up the climb, rather than letting a climber pull up the climb, because you can control the pace of it better. So just being smart about those things like, don’t ever try and be the strongest person in a breakaway. You don’t need to be the hero of the breakaway, you just pull through just as hard as you need to pull through. That’s actually one I think a lot of lower category riders sometimes get confused about because it’s like, well, I need to go as hard as possible to try and stay away. And I’m like, Yeah, but if you go as hard as possible, and then somebody else doesn’t, then they just out sprint you in the end anyway, kind of thing. So you have to be smart about how you use your effort, as well.
Trevor Connor 38:14
I always tell athletes, when you’re in a breakaway, your goal is not be noticed, because most of the time if the other riders are noticing you it’s not a good thing, either. Because your pace your-your pace line is awful. And they want you out there, or you’re taking monster pulls and you’re blowing yourself up. Yeah, if you’re taking a good pull pulling off right doing everything, right, everybody else is hurting you. They’re not noticing you at all. So your goal is to not be noticed.
Ruth Winder 38:40
Also during monster pull sometimes. If you want you want to be friends with your breakaway companions. And point to a point, yes, especially the beginning of the breakaway, when you’re trying to establish a gap. And if you were the strongest person in the breakaway, and you’re doing monster pulls, all you’re doing is hurting your breakaway companions. So sometimes you have to ride slower, just to make sure that you keep that group together. Because this has happened to me a number of times, I’m like you need to slow down because you are dropping me and you need my help because we still have so much of the race to go. Which is a funny thing to tell people you don’t understand slower is faster right now, especially in a group of like four or five. And if you pull through really hard, you think about that. And then you get them off and then they’re no longer in your draft and then they have to try and come around you and you’re like flicking your elbow at them. Why aren’t they coming? And you’ve just, you know that dead? Yeah, right. They’re not recovering on the wheel anymore. They’re actually probably going harder than when they were on the front. So you actually have to think about things like that sometimes when you’re the strongest one in the breakaway.
Trevor Connor 39:40
When the person in front of you pulls off, maintain the speed. Don’t accelerate them pull off and that poor person behind you.
Ruth Winder 39:48
Yeah, you need your breakaway companions to a certain degree. Once it’s time to go and try and climb to win then you can put the hood on them but try and be friends with the breakaway friends at first.
How Confidence can Help Overcome the Fear of Failure and Judgement with Brent Bookwalter
Chris Case 40:00
Trevor also chatted with Brent Bookwalter of the Mitchelton Scott Worldtour Team about confidence and how it can help overcome the fear of failure and judgment, which often make racers hesitate.
Brent Bookwalter 40:12
Oh, yeah, Ruth’s inspiring. I think, just, she’s had a long successful career. But seeing her nationals win this year, that was something that yeah, it was inspiring for me to watch and, and I’m a fan, so she can maybe attest to it even more than I can. But I think in rooted in being an aggressive rider is that going back to that confidence piece, and, and the fear that a lot of us have, of maybe failure, and the feel of fear of other people’s opinions and judgments. So somehow, having some awareness for the relationship that we have, with those with those feelings, and those reservations, confronting it, head on, processing it, and then getting through it and moving on from it, it helps to just have some, you mean, to be aggressive, you got to have that fire, and you got to have that fight. And for me, personally, that’s something I have to continue to, to check in with myself and find and cultivate and get, how I how I get lit up and ignited and burn that big, hot, deep, dark flame now isn’t the same way that I did before when I was younger. So that’s something that’s changing. And, for me takes a little bit of conscious work to think about and feel and, and to sort of ignite consciously.
Types of Things Ruth Works on to Prepare for Being Aggressive When Riding
Chris Case 41:33
Let’s get back to our conversation with Ruth. Maybe it’s just that you’re naturally built for this, but what are some of the types of things that you work on to prepare for being aggressive? Do you work on your jump? Do you work on your time traveling ability? Are you working on this?
Trevor Connor 41:53
Is this what do you do to learn how to suffer the pain?
Ruth Winder 41:58
I think that I train everything pretty well rounded. And that’s just the kind of rider that I am. I think, you know, people train their strengths, but also that weaknesses, you know, so I would say what whoever is your coach, that you should really be kind of focusing on everything, but make sure that you make your best, your what you do the best, your best thing, and then what you do the worst, as good as you can make it if that makes sense. Like don’t sacrifice your best attribute, just to try and make your worst one a little bit better. And then really go into a race prepared to know what-what the race is like, I think that’s a big thing, too, like knowing the cost detail going in prepared, knowing who your competitors, all those old things that really make a difference when it comes to being in a breakaway. Because sometimes it’s not, like I’ve said earlier, it’s not always the strongest one, that’s winning, but the one that’s the most prepared or the smartest one that can win. And so a lot of attacking comes from that. So yeah, just knowing who you are, I guess, essentially, knowing who you are as an athlete, and then being prepared with race knowledge.
How to Get in the Right Mindset for Aggressive Riding
Trevor Connor 43:00
Let’s talk a little bit about the mindset side of it. Yeah. Because there is a huge mindset to this, be able to suffer like that worrying about whether the field is going to catch you and give you an example. So I was in a local race up near Toronto, called the gloom- Blue Mountain Granfondo in June, and I broke away really early, about two hours from the finish. And I was initially I was like, all excited. Cool. I’m gonna average X wattage for the next two hours, that’s gonna look greatvwhen I look at the file. Five minutes later, I’m like, I’ve got average, what why does it hurt?
Ruth Winder 43:35
Trevor Connor 43:35
It hurt for five minutes. And I had two more hours of this. And that can mentally get to you. You’re also looking back initially the field still in view. They can view you and you know, I’m a breakaway rider. I’ve done it for a long time. And there were just some moments of, oh, boy, what I just get myself into the moments of doubt. How do you prepare for that? How do you deal with that? How do you sit there and say, I just broke away fom the top women in the US. I’ve got how much longer ahead of me? Do you just go oh, that’s cool. Or is there-
Ruth Winder 44:09
Basically, I don’t know. I feel like you want some like granddad’s for me. But I get myself in that situation. number of times, I’m like, well, okay. Here we are,
Chris Case 44:17
You embrace the pain.
Ruth Winder 44:18
Yeah, you just have to like you, once you’ve made that decision to attack which you sound like you experienced many times, like you just kind of have to be like, well, I’ve already made the choice. So gotta have to, you know, just own up to my choices, I guess and keep going until I get caught. Because at that point, you’re like, what do you I guess, there are times where you could be like, I really, if you end up solo, and it’s really not a good time to be solo. I have to say there have been a couple of times I’m like, I do not want to be alone for the next 50 kilometers of this bike race like this was not the tactic. I’ve done it both ways. I’ve done it where you just put your head down, you keep going. You hope that people come across to you, which has happened to me a couple of times, or it’s been like this. It’s just it’s a suicide march. Like this isn’t anything not going to get me anywhere. Maybe I’m just exhausting myself by being up the road by myself.
Chris Case 45:06
It’s weird though to watch bike racers do that. Because how often do you see a bike racer just actually sit up and say, you know what, that was totally dumb. I’m just gonna, like, literally sit on the side of the road-
Ruth Winder 45:18
Chris Case 45:19
and wait. And then basically, it never happens. We all put our head down, keep going. You might not go hundred percent. Sometimes we go 100%. Other times, we’re like, this is totally stupid. But you still keep going.
Ruth Winder 45:33
Yeah you do. And it’s probably like, where the mental part of that comes in, right? It’s just like, okay, you’ve made this choice. You just got to keep going. And it’s like, because we’re all athletes that love to push ourselves. That’s why we’re racing bikes, or riding bikes, or, you know, within the sport somehow, because we like that pain. It’s crazy. As it all sounds, we’re like, do we really like it, but then you know, you really like it. So then you’re pushing yourself and you want to see if you can make it you want to see if you can hold off. You know, your competitors. Like, that’s part of the excitement of trying to do it. I think so I think for me mentally, it’s just like, all right, now I’m in the situation. Just keep pedaling. It’s like, there’s also i to have you seen the movie “Finding Nemo” and just like just finding nemo, like, just keep swimming, just keep pedaling, just keep because like at that point, like I said, what are you supposed to do? What are you supposed to? You’re already off the front, you already made your choice. So-
Chris Case 46:21
Is there any fear of embarrassment? And that’s why you just keep going?
Ruth Winder 46:26
No, I wouldn’t say embarassment. It’s kind of like the kind of thing like right if you don’t try it, for me personally, it’s like, well, I can either try this or I can try it out sprint, the sprint is which maybe I’ll maybe if I’m have some miracle day, but probably not.
Chris Case 46:42
Trevor Connor 46:43
Tell me if this is how it is for you. This was always how it was for me when you’re being aggressive. There’s two points of aggression. You know, sometimes you’re really lucky in a race. And that first attack is the attack that goes and you’re gone for the day. But often I find, if I say I’m going into this race, I want to break away often there’s a couple failed attempts before finally, one move works. So I find initially, I just have to be kind of aggressive and just look for the moves and attack a fair amount until I find that move. But whenever I’m up the road, there is a point of no return where you go, if I get caught, my day is done. If I go past this point, so if I if I decide to keep going, this is my move for the day, I either win or I’m just done. And before I hit that point, I always kind of make a second decision of is this something that I want to commit to? And Chris talked about sometimes you see riders that will sit up and go back to the field. I have had times where I went. Yeah, this is dumb. Yeah, I’m gonna go back to the field right now, before I hit that point of no return and hope there there’s an opportunity later. Is that it for you? Or is it you’re much more once you’re up the road that’s it?
Ruth Winder 47:56
No, I think that I agree with that. I think that there are definitely times where you’re like, Okay, I kind of at Nationals, like I was saying, it’s like I got to within a certain distance of the finish line, basically, like when you know, you can’t go back to the field and recover anymore, you’ve like, there is no more time to recover. So you’ve been doing your hard effort. And once the field catches you and one more person attacks, you know, you can’t match that acceleration anymore. So for me, it definitely becomes like a distance to the finish line, which I would say I using probably in crit racing more than in road racing sometimes because I think road racing is so hard, and you don’t really know what will happen. But crit I’ll be like, Okay, if five laps to go, nothing’s stayed away, or this brake isn’t gonna stay away, and we’re almost being caught. And maybe I’ll start taking really short pulls and saving myself because I know within five more laps, then I can get enough recovery to either try and get still a result in the sprint to help my sprinter, leave my sprinter out that type of thing.
Chris Case 48:51
Because this type of racing often ends in failure.
Ruth Winder 48:56
Chris Case 48:56
Let’s be honest.
Ruth Winder 48:57
Often almost always,
Chris Case 48:58
Almost always ends in failure. How do you remain confident?
How to Remain Confident When Attacking
Ruth Winder 49:04
Well, I think I don’t know if it’s maybe not completely all luck. I would like to think it’s not just luck. But when you just like want to hit your head against a wall, because you don’t know what you’re doing anymore. With this attacking situation, you would like right when you’re about to break, it’s like, oh, I won. And then that feeling is amazing. And then you just keep doing but it’s kind of like the same thing. You know, sitting in for the bunch sprint, you’re not gonna win that way either. But also, being on a good team with a sprinter that can win that way, you get a lot of confidence when maybe you have a team that’s pretty well rounded. And for me personally, like I can still help my teammates win a lot of the time. So if it’s not me winning from a breakaway, then my odds are still pretty great with my other teammates, either them winning from a breakaway or me helping my sprinter. But often it’s just like you just keep trying and eventually, eventually, eventually, if you do enough bike races that it happens like I’ve been racing, you know, since I was 15 years old, and now I’m 26 and I finally won nationals winning like, oh, no fight. I’ve won Junior national championships before, but like winning a race in that style hasn’t happened to me before. And I’ve been-
Chris Case 50:09
Ruth Winder 50:09
-10 years. So I mean, I’ve won solo off the front before. But if you watch the finish of that race, it’s like, pretty, really Excuse me. Pretty exciting. Yeah. So it doesn’t happen that often. You just have to keep believing, but it can get a little bit demoralizing sometimes.
Chris Case 50:25
So stubbornness is a good quality for an aggressive rider to have.
Ruth Winder 50:29
Yeah, I would say I’m pretty stubborn, very stubborn, actually.
Trevor Connor 50:33
So let me ask you what I hope is an interesting question that he says-
Chris Case 50:37
-I hope so too
Question for Ruth: If you Could Turn Yourself into any Type of Rider, What Kind Would it be?
Trevor Connor 50:40
Racing this way. There’s a lot of failure in between successes. So if you could physiologically change yourself, turn yourself into any type of rider you want it with any strengths that you wanted. Would you change who you are, and how you race? Are you kind of not being aggressive is just fun?
Ruth Winder 51:01
No. And somebody asked me this not that long ago, and I just replied with I like who I am. And I’m like, is that cocky thing to say, I’m not sure. But I do like to say that I really do like who I am. And I think that that’s what makes me stubborn. And keep trying, though, because I think that I really enjoy it. Even though sometimes it’s miserable when you’re out there on your own, and you get caught with like 100 meters to go. And then you get somehow 50 in the last hundred meters of a bike race, when you’ve been off the front for the last two hours, you know, like that’s happened more times than I would like to think about or remember, but then, you know, like, it’s really exciting, too. And it makes people like really into the bike race and people like, “Oh, my gosh, you were out there for so long. And then you lost them. So like it that sucks so much.” And I’m like, Yeah, I know. But like, people really, you know, like to see that type of thing and really get behind you. And I have a lot of support and a lot of fans and I don’t know, yeah, kind of like not that people that are really good sprinters don’t because obviously they do but I think that bike racing needs all these different kinds of types of races. And to keep it interesting, exciting.
Chris Case 52:05
Yeah, I’m, I’m right there with you. I’m not the type of person that’s going to sit in for and actually don’t have much patience. So being aggressive and creative. And all of that is the fun part of racing. For me. It’s the bonus that that type of racing on at your caliber, is the entertaining thing about bike racing, too, that makes the audience the public enjoy it that much more. If everybody if every stage of the Tour de France was a sprint stage, there’d be some people that would still watch it. But honestly, it would be more boring race than if every stage was a Ruth Winder stage where people were being aggressive and attacking and using their brain as much as their legs to race.
Ruth Winder 52:52
Why all Athletes Should Listen to This Podcast
Trevor Connor 52:53
But we asked the question, which never really answered at the beginning of this podcast of not everybody listening is a professional racer. So why would they want to hear about this? And my answer to that, as a coach is a man coach athletes of all levels right down to I have an athlete that I’ve been coaching five, six years now who’s I think done one actual organized race in his life. He just likes the group rides. But every athlete I have coached the time when they have called me. They were most exhilarated about an experience they had it was that I got away from the field. I was solo for 10 minutes, or 30 minutes or an hour, it was the best feeling in the world. And whether they won or lost was kind of, you know, if they want it was a bit of a bonus. But it was that being away. There’s just nothing better than that feeling of looking back, I dropped the field. I’m on my own.
Ruth Winder 53:47
Yeah. And I think a lot of that’s like your you do you get to dictate your pace. And you get to say how fast and how hard you’re going and you feel really good about it. Because often the time you’re in the field and you’re suffering, but it’s not because you’re doing it maybe if you’re on the front, then you all but when you get away, it’s like this is something that I’ve worked on, and that I’m really strong in this moment right now. And it’s I don’t know, I think it’s a really good feeling. You know, it’s kind of like rural bike races, and we like to suffer.
Trevor Connor 54:12
Ruth Winder 54:13
It’s fun to be able to do that and keep keep people at bay while doing it.
Chris Case 54:17
Cycling is pain.
Ruth Winder 54:19
Cycling is pain.
The Difference Between Being Creative and Aggressive in Cycling
Chris Case 54:23
So what’s the difference between being creative and being aggressive? And how do you know when to employ each strategy?
Ruth Winder 54:31
I don’t know that you can really have one without the other. Can you like?
Trevor Connor 54:36
You tell me your bike racing.
Ruth Winder 54:38
I mean, I guess just being aggressive just for the sake of being aggressive does happen when you want to just make the race hard. Whether it’s for yourself or for a teammate, you know, the race has to be hard for you to be successful, whether you’re trying to drop a sprinter or something like that, and it doesn’t really matter who is in the breakaway with you. You just know you have to drop the sprinter. So then you just go bananas. Attacking the race and to me that’s just being aggressive without necessarily too much thought behind it. Just it doesn’t matter where in the race you are, you’re just going and you just need to go really hard to make it really hard. So that the field is as small as possible.
Chris Case 55:09
Yeah, I mean, there is there is thought in that, in that, you know, it’s like if I don’t do this, than. So you’re you are thinking, but I get what you’re saying.
Ruth Winder 55:17
Chris Case 55:17
it’s less tactical.
Ruth Winder 55:18
Chris Case 55:19
In a sense.
Ruth Winder 55:19
Less like, okay, I need to really use my energy really smartly, because I can only do it one or two times. Than just like, just going really hard and just keep going because I need to just be really aggressive and make this race really hard. To me, I think that that would be the difference.
Ruth’s Go-To Workout
Chris Case 55:35
Do you have a go to workout that you like to prepare for races, when you’re going to be aggressive? I know you train train the the breadth and depth of what you can train, but do you have a go to workout that you love that not only brings you the physiological strengths you want, but also just sort of one that builds your confidence.
Ruth Winder 55:59
It’s pretty common workout, actually. But the 30-30s or 40-20s or something like that I do pretty frequently before a really big event. And um-
Chris Case 56:07
-can you describe that to those that aren’t familiar with that.
Ruth Winder 56:11
So it’s the 30-30s, I normally do pretty much like 30 seconds, just pretty much as hard as I can go for 30 seconds. And then sometimes I do this, the next 30 seconds completely recovery, or I’ll do them at zone two or zone three. So you’re still holding some load after you’ve just gone almost as hard as you can, and then repeat that for maybe 10 minutes or something like that. So at the end of the 10 minutes, it feels like pretty full gas 10 minute effort. And then the 40-20 are also a similar thing, you just have to dial it back a little bit more, because doing 40 seconds, it’s just a little bit harder. And then with 20, typically with the 20 seconds, almost completely recovery. And I’ll try and do them on a small bit of a hill most of the time, sometimes I do them on the flat because it’s a little bit more challenging for me to like, really hold the power higher while it’s on a climb. It’s easier, easier with quotations because it just the gravity or whatever helps you keep the pressure on the pedals a little bit more.
Chris Case 57:05
Ruth Winder 57:06
But that typically, I don’t know, it’s a really, really hard workout that just makes you feel like you’ve just gone really, really hard. And then you take a couple days recovering and get ready for the race.
Trevor Connor 57:15
You do it right that 40 seconds feels like about two minutes and that 20 second recovery feels like about two seconds.
Ruth Winder 57:21
Yup they are awful. I say you asked me what my go-to I don’t enjoy it. It’s not like oh you know what’s gonna be fun today? Is these 40-20s.
Trevor Connor 57:28
Ruth Winder 57:29
Okay, well, let’s get ready. What is it Cycling is pain. Okay, so let’s go and be in a lot of pain. And it is like the hardest 10 minute effort. I feel like at the end of the day, it’s harder than just doing a threshold effort for me for sure. It’s just like sprint stop sprint stop.
Chris Case 57:42
Is that would you consider that a tabota?
Trevor Connor 57:44
That is the classic tabota Oh, classic tabota I think the originals were 20-10s.
Chris Case 57:49
Trevor Connor 57:49
But 40-20s are pretty close. And a lot. I hear a lot more procyclists actually defaulting to the 40-20s.
Ruth Winder 57:57
Trevor Connor 57:57
And there’s there’s a bit of a physiological reason that after about 30 seconds. Once you start changing your energy system. So that last 10 seconds is really brutal.
Ruth Winder 58:07
Chris Case 58:09
You can attest to this.
Ruth Winder 58:10
Chris Case 58:11
Trevor Connor 58:12
One of my beliefs is exactly what you said. I think you probably train the engine, train the the energy systems a little better doing more threshold steady work. I really like the tabotas I give them to my athletes as this is teaching you just how to hurt.
Ruth Winder 58:30
Trevor Connor 58:31
Because 15 minute threshold, or five minute or 20 minute, whatever use No, you’re always holding back. You just don’t hurt the same way.
Ruth Winder 58:41
Yeah, and you really have to go into it just like thinking of each minute as its own minute. Like if I go into a tabota and start thinking about a minute of this interval, I am never going to make it through the first two minutes. So you just end it because it’s so hard, like each one has to really be almost as hard as you can go for 40 seconds. And if you think about doing that 10 times over-
Trevor Connor 58:59
Ruth Winder 59:00
I’m just not going to make it the whole way. So just-
Chris Case 59:02
Bite ized chunks.
Ruth Winder 59:03
Chris Case 59:04
Get to that next telephone pole. Get to that next telephone pole.
Trevor Connor 59:07
Well, that’s what I tell my athletes when I give it to them. My prescription is really simple. It’s that
Ruth Winder 59:12
It’s a stretch of road or something?
Trevor Connor 59:14
Yeah I’ll give them a stretch of road go 40 seconds all out.
Ruth Winder 59:17
Trevor Connor 59:18
And they go well, what watage? My answer is always if you’re able to look at your screen as you’re doing you’re not going hard enough.
Chris Case 59:27
Full gas as they say.
Ruth Winder 59:29
Yeah, there’s some really fun roads to do them on here. Especially because it’s so so busy. And if you do them like I don’t know.
Chris Case 59:36
Ruth Winder 59:37
No, like a left hand cannon or something. And I mean, I’m not a pretty sufferer at all. Like going past some people you’re just like, AHHH like dying all over. And I do I know, like vocalizes when I’m suffering on it.
Chris Case 59:51
I know what photo we’re gonna run with this podcast. We’re gonna dig up through the the archive to come up with one of these good photos.
Ruth Winder 1:00:00
Just don’t be, yeah, don’t be afraid to be a little bit ugly. There’s some intervals you need to do and you really maintain form and think about how you’re pedaling your bike and what muscles you’re using. And these are just like being about ugly and
Chris Case 1:00:11
Ruth Winder 1:00:12
-just like learning how to suffers How did you can so that you can go and do it in a bike race.
Trevor Connor 1:00:17
I love that around. I’m the same as you. When I’m hurting that hard I make noise. There’s usually something come out of my nose. And there’s always cyclists on the hill near so they’ll hear me they’ll look back and go, “Oh my god, what is that coming at us?”
Chris Case 1:00:29
Weird creature that’s about to attack me.
Ruth Winder 1:00:31
It’s a strange thing to like to do. But yeah, on a Sunday morning in Boulder, Colorado, you could do that up left hand people give the strangest looks like they just it’s really funny in case people cheer you on sometimes and-
Trevor Connor 1:00:43
-or just get out of the way really quickly.
Chris Case 1:00:45
Especially if you’re wearing a stars and stripes jersey.
Ruth Winder 1:00:48
Yeah. What is she? Is she a poser?
Chris Case 1:00:55
Finally, we sat down with Jared Berg, lead physiologist at the University of Colorado sports medicine and Performance Center to discuss the physiological needs for aggressive racing.
Jared Berg Discusses the Physiological Needs for Aggressive Racing
Jared Berg 1:01:04
We want to make sure that the rest of the riding doesn’t get in the way of their ability to be aggressive. Is sort of what I would what I would focus on what’s really the fundamentals. Previously we talked about trying to how much work can you do at or, or just below that aerobic threshold? Right? If that’s really high, then you’re going to be able to launch these brilliant 30 second one minute attacks and, and go after. But if you’re you’re not eight, you’re not you’re doing if you’re getting beat up, before you get to the opportunity to launch, you know, to be aggressive, then you’re aggressive is going to be a little bit lackluster, right? Same thing, I think, you know, I talk a little bit about that sub threshold, which some some folks call a sweet spot, getting that to be a little bit higher, cuz that’s, that’s the max pace, you can hold comfortable, hard pace that you can hold and still be really metabolically efficient, that wants to be high. Work on the things that do we need to strengthen what you’re already good at? No, it’s gonna make sure the rest of doesn’t get in the way so you can be good at what you’re good at.
Chris Case 1:02:07
Let’s get back to Ruth for some closing thoughts. So since you’re a newbie, to Fast Talk, and by the way, we don’t want to keep you we- a newbie, we want to have you back. This has been great. We always end our show with the take homes, we give each person 60 seconds to encapsulate everything they know about everything we’ve talked about.
Trevor Connor 1:02:27
Five minute timer.
Chris Case 1:02:28
Five minute timer for one minute.
Ruth Winder 1:02:30
Chris Case 1:02:30
It’s looks like-
Trevor Connor 1:02:31
Ty made a very poor choice on that.
Chris Case 1:02:36
So yeah, give us your take homes. What should take people take home from this episode, what’s the most important was the essence of being aggressive?
Ruth’s Take Home: The Essence of Being Aggressive
Ruth Winder 1:02:47
Oooh, the essence of being aggressive. I think just knowing yourself really well, is thing number one. Like you need to know your ability, who you are as an athlete, who you are as a bike racer, knowing your competition and knowing you’re the course that you’re going to be racing on. Because you have to be able to use yourself most effectively knowing what you want to achieve from being aggressive or creative. So if you want to just make the race really hard, and you really strong, and you could just keep doing that, versus maybe you have to be really smart about where you make your move and how you make your move, which comes back to knowing the racecourse and knowing your competitors and knowing how to play the game in that respect. And learning and just suffering I guess I think like the whole part that we just really have talked about is like suffering through the pain of being either solo or in a breakaway, you don’t have as much draft to draft on you’re gonna have to just put your head down and do the best you can.
Chris Case 1:03:46
Trevor, what do you what would you add?
Trevor’s Take Home: The Essence of Being Aggressive
Trevor Connor 1:03:48
First of all, I have to say you are leagues above me, but it’s really nice to have a kindred spirit on the show a fellow suffer. Guess that’s my favorite part of cycling, I won’t lie. My take home is slightly different going back to this value of aggression. There’s an exhilaration to it, there is something that you experience. When you get away from that field. Even it’s for five minutes that I can’t explain and you don’t really understand until you do it. So I encourage no matter what level you are what you’re doing, have that experience. Another side of it from a training standpoint, my old mentor could not do intervals. And his reason was I just can’t go hard enough in intervals. So he set up training races and that was his training. And his explanation was-in sorry, take step back. I would do these training races. I mean, he would just sit there and attack us until you blew up or won and he goes that’s my interval work and when I’m attacking people when I’m being aggressive, I can go a lot harder than I can in intervals. So that’s another value. You can hit a higher level doing that.
Chris’s Take Home: The Essence of Being Aggressive
Chris Case 1:04:54
I’m not sure this is so much a take home as just my my personal your preference and piece of advice is that this is the most fun you can have on a bike in bike racing and to go out and try stuff and experiment and not necessarily in races but if you want to in races whether they’re you’re probably not your your key races or primary races but just go out there and try to be observant. Figure out those cues that you can pick up on your your competition, understand the dynamics of the group, how to use the landscape to your advantage, all these things attack when it’s dumb, attack when you think you’re being smart, attack when it’s early, attack when it’s late. Try a bunch of different things to not only have fun, but to learn. And I think through that you’ll progress and figure out what you can do as an aggressive rider or maybe just give up on being aggressive altogether. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at email@example.com or call 719-800-2112 and leave us a voicemail. Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play, or wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. For Ruth Linder, Julie Young, Jared Berg, Bret Bookwalker and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.