There are a lot of analogies that cyclists and coaches have devised to try to understand a basic concept in cycling — we all have a limited amount of energy, and to win races, we have to use that energy carefully. Metrics such as calories, kiloJoules, Watt Prime (W’), and FRC are attempts to quantify it. Many top pros just have a feel for it. But ultimately, we all have a “jar of energy” we can use in a race. Some of us have bigger jars, some smaller. But the winner of the race isn’t necessarily the rider with the biggest jar. It’s the rider who still has a little energy left in the jar at the end of the race, and who knows just the right moment to use it. In this episode, we discuss how to use your jar most effectively to make sure every time you pour a little of that precious energy out, it makes an impact. We’ll apply this to a discussion of bike racing, including:
- Why the best rider always wins the race, even if the or she isn’t the strongest rider
- We’ll define energy and discuss the pros and cons of trying to measure it
- However you measure it, you have a limited supply. So, we’ll dive into all the ways you can unnecessarily waste energy including:
- Responding to every move
- Riding in the washing machine
- Poor positioning
- Riding on the front for no reason
- After we talk about all the ways you can waste energy, we’ll flip it around and talk about ways to save energy including:
- Finding the sweet spot in the field and seeking to be bored
- Learning to observe the field so you know when “it’s about to get real” and when it’s not
- Learning to think like a sprinter and why it’s okay to sit on
- Finally, we’ll talk about when it’s okay to spend energy, for example, when you’re riding for a teammate, at those make-or-break moments in the race, and when you smell blood in the water.
Our primary guest today is the always informative Colby Pearce, a racer, coach, bike fitter, thinker, tinkerer, and one of the most thoughtful and inquisitive bike racers we know. Along with Colby we talked with Sepp Kuss, winner of the 2018 Tour of Utah, riding for the Jumbo-Visma WorldTour team.
Finally, we’ll touch base with another Canadian and world gran fondo champion Bruce Bird, who talks with us about how to read the field.
With that, fill that cookie jar with lots of cookies and get ready to eat them one by one. Let’s make you fast! Primary Guest Colby Pearce: Coach and fitter Secondary Guests Sepp Kuss: Pro cyclist with Jumbo-Visma Bruce Bird: Gran fondo world champion
Welcome to Fast Talk, develop news podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a pro.
Chris Case 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host, Chris case, managing editor of Bella news, joined as always by that big dumb horse, Coach Trevor Connor, don’t worry,
he calls himself that.
Chris Case 00:27
There are a lot of different analogies, a lot of different tools that cyclists and coaches have come up with over the years to try to measure or understand one basic concept. We all have a limited amount of energy and to win races, we have to use that energy carefully. metrics such as calories, kilojoules, watt prime and FRC are attempts to quantify. Many top pros just have a feel for it. But ultimately, we all have a jar of energy we can use in a race. Some of us have bigger jars, some smaller, but the winner of the race isn’t necessarily the rider with the biggest jar. It’s the rider who still has a little energy left in the jar at the end of the race. So today, we’re going to talk about how to use your jar most effectively to make sure every time you pour a little of that precious energy out, it makes an impact. This is a conversation that goes much deeper than that. We’ll also talk about suicidal robots. What happens to you in prison fighting bears, flow states, washing machines, dumb horses, why rush named a song y, y, z, and how Ultimate Fighting plays into your offseason will also at some point talk about bike racing, including, first, why the best rider always wins the race even if they’re not the strongest rider. Number two, we’ll try to define energy and discuss the pros and cons of trying to measure it. Number three, however you measure it, you have a limited supply of energy. So we’ll dive into all the ways you can unnecessarily waste energy including responding to every move, riding in the so called washing machine, poor positioning, and riding on the front for no reason. Number four, after we talk about all the ways you can waste energy, we’ll flip it around and talk about ways to save energy, including finding the sweet spot in the field and seeking to be bored. Learning to observe the field so you know when it’s about to get real and when it’s not. Learning to think like a sprinter and why it’s okay to sit in. Finally, we’ll talk about when it’s okay to spend energy, like when you’re writing for a teammate at those make or break moments in the race or when you smell blood in the water. I remember a guest today who’s looking to be our most frequent guest of all is the always informative goalie Pierce, racer coach, bike fitter thinker, Tinker and one of the most thoughtful and inquisitive bike racers. We know along with Colby we talked with Seth coos winner of the 2018 tour of Utah, who rides for the jumbo visma or Jambo visma World Tour team. Finally, we’ll touch base with another Canadian and World granfondo champion Bruce bird who talks with us about how to read the field. With that, fill that cookie jar with lots of cookies and get ready to eat them one by one. Let’s make it fast.
Trevor Connor 03:29
Today’s episode is brought to you by whoop. The whoop strap is actually based on a lot of research that’s been conducted over the last 1015 years, we’ve talked about some of those, there’s been a whole series of studies and I am not going to give you the names of the authors because I’ve already embarrassed myself perfectly by mispronouncing them. So you just gonna have to trust me on this. But there’s been a whole series of authors that looked at comparing athletes who are doing training based on a well periodized planned out training plan. compare them to athletes who are basing their training purely on their heart rate variability. So a doctor would analyze their data in the morning and say, You’re not recovered. So you’re just going to do an easy workout today or you are recovered, go out, do some interval work. And amazingly, all these studies, the athletes who did their training based on heart rate variability, saw greater adaptations than the athletes who are on that well mapped out plan.
Chris Case 04:26
And yeah, that’s just what whoop does. It takes your heart rate variability score, your resting heart rate score, your sleep quality score, or I should say all of those factors and rolls it into a score that will tell you today you’re ready to go go out, tear yourself apart or No, don’t do it. sit on the couch. Rest up. Have a go tomorrow.
Trevor Connor 04:49
Whoop is the performance tool that has changed the way people optimize their training recovery. Whoo provides a restore and heart rate monitor that features detailed app based analytics and insights on recovery strength. And sleep. Loop tracks sleep quality and heart rate variability 100 times per second 24 hours per day to help you know when your body is recovered or when it needs rest. You could also use the strap to track workouts and get strength score so that you know how strenuous The training was on your body. Whoop helps you optimize your sleep based on how fatiguing your day was and track sleep performance with insights into sleep quality, stages of sleep and consistency. To make things better, we’ve just released a new bootstrap 3.0, which includes a suite of new hardware and app features. The bootstrap 3.0 now has five day battery life and approve strap and live heartrate monitor a handful of new inap features including the new strain coach improve the way you track and plan your training and recovery. Whoop is provided an offer Fast Talk listeners to get 15% off their purchase with the code Fast Talk. That’s FA s t ta lk. So two T’s no space, just go to whoop.com. That’s w h o o p.com. And use the code Fast Talk at checkout to save 15% off and optimize the way you train.
Chris Case 06:20
Last time I was here, walked up the stairs. Trevor’s robot greeted me. And I said hey, Trevor, your robot came up the door. I didn’t think anything of it. And Trevor comes running out the door and your your robot tried to commit suicide. Yes, it
Trevor Connor 06:34
tried to escape. I have one room but Roomba robot vacuum things. Chris opened the door and it like pulled it out. When I went out to get it it was halfway off the deck
for any contaminants so
Chris Case 06:47
if you hear robots chirping if there’s weird noises it’s because we’re not in our typical studio. We’re in a for now makeshift studio. We’re gonna we’re gonna spruce this place up. We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna dial it in.
Colby Pearce 07:00
Here we are anywhere knows on robots.
Trevor Connor 07:03
Yes. So Fast Talk friend of cyclists, not of robots.
Chris Case 07:08
And joining us today, for perhaps the fourth time, I’m not really sure. But you might be our most frequent guests at this point. No, you’re not? No, Brent,
Trevor Connor 07:19
we have to fix this because I actually got a tweet somebody saying, well, we should call this the Fast Talk and call the show. And so I actually I keep a record of everybody. And I look back and you were number three. Oh, whoa. So we got to fix that
Colby Pearce 07:31
I am going to have to assassinate them. Or
Trevor Connor 07:34
I think well, Walter, has you beat? I
Chris Case 07:36
can’t remember the other one. You’re talking about how many times their voice has been? How many episodes has never been the main guest. Whereas you have got
Colby Pearce 07:44
a good point. Lots of bread snippets.
Chris Case 07:46
Yes, right. He’s good. He is now much else. Oh, sorry.
Trevor Connor 07:51
Which rides we were getting him on the show this fall. They do
Colby Pearce 07:56
Chris Case 07:57
Well, today, we want to talk about not robots, but the energy game, how to take advantage of all those things to save up all that energy. So you can release it at the optimum time. And we have Kobe here because he’s been doing this forever. He thinks about these things. As we know from our previous discussions, he thinks about these things. He knows about these things. Curious man,
Colby Pearce 08:21
I would say I have an understanding of these things based on personal experience because I spent a whole air quotes racing career and air quotes.
Why why quote, why air quotes? Well.
Colby Pearce 08:33
Okay, to segue for a brief moment. I mean, you call yourself a professional in a sport. Some people might say, and I think this definition is reasonable that in order to call yourself a professional, you have to be making, let’s say minimum wage as an actual salary practice in that sport. So of all the years that I was on professional teams in the US, very few of them would that would I make that definition of cut averages I get from time to time,
rules out the women,
Trevor Connor 09:02
basically 60% of male cyclists in the US?
Colby Pearce 09:06
Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s and what saddens me most is that I battled that when I was a pro, but the game hasn’t changed that much. Since I stopped racing. That’s the worst part. It really hasn’t the depth and breadth of the payment scheme or structure in professional cycling as a as a sport has not really changed dramatically. And that’s kind of a bummer to see. So
Colby Pearce 09:26
yeah, I but I say that with all seriousness, like I’m very conscious of the fact that I’m squarely in the middle of no man’s land in the sport of cycling in the sense that the sweet spot actually you have kind of a sweet spot. I mean, there are people who are like, Wow, you’re so unbelievably fast. You did this and that and that. And then there are other people who could literally rip me off their wheel in 30 seconds, and I’ve got it on both sides. Now most people in the sport can say that. It’s just a question of what your peer group is and what the ride context is. But I think it’s always important to keep that perspective.
Maybe we shouldn’t have Coby on he doesn’t he doesn’t sound like he’s got a lot of confidence.
Colby Pearce 09:59
Well I was actually trying to make is that I spent a whole air quotes career, basically making the most out of what really glorified Hummingbird engine. I mean, I’m not a high powered writer, I’ve never had a big vo to never had a lot of watts to throw around. So that’s why you had to use your brain more my brain, my Ooh, how am I going to survive in this draft? How am I going to make it down around the corner in this corner? Oh, it’s I’m gonna have to corner two miles an hour faster than most other people. It’s just the way it is. And you develop skills binus Necessity is the mother of invention.
Trevor Connor 10:28
You know, on that note, I have seen a lot of cyclists that have enormous engines that can’t win a race because they just don’t take an advantage of they don’t.
Colby Pearce 10:36
That’s a great point. I call that the fill game and complex or fill game. In example, this is a game in or diamond. I don’t really know I’m going with gaming.
Trevor Connor 10:46
Okay, we want to keep count of how many people we offend on this particular episode. So far, we got bookwalter gaming,
Colby Pearce 10:52
we go for I coach for a while, so I’m just gonna go with it. All right. But Phil’s a great example because he is obviously an enormously talented cyclist in a pretty narrow bandwidth IE vo two and he’s skinny, and he’s got a good he’s got the right fiber type to make power on steep hills, right? And fit. But Phil grew up racing in Florida, where his skills weren’t maybe as useful as they could have been initially, but he was still probably on any given day at least 5% or 10%, stronger than the next strongest guy in any group ride race he did. And the advantage of that is that Phil could win pretty much whenever he wanted, he could do ridiculous stuff. The disadvantages rather than so to speak. The disadvantage is he never learned to hide his cards he never had to do even if the entire field of 80 people ganged up on him. And a breakaway got up the road five minutes, Phil would eventually just wait over when he got bored. And then he would just swing out into the wind pass the entire field in one giant sprint and then bridge the five minute gap solo and then probably drop everyone. And when that happened multiple times. He was that good. But then when he got to Europe, and suddenly, the deck was filled with cards that were very close to his ability level, he couldn’t corner as fast. He didn’t understand how to save those cards that plays exactly into what we’re talking about, which is how do you learn how to save energy for the right moment and use your bullets at the right time because when Phil gets in European peloton, he’s no longer a big fish in a little pond. he’s a he’s a big fish in a sea full of sharks, and still very talented. But development timeline was sort of staggered and a little bit discordant because he couldn’t, he didn’t carry the skills, the basic skills, the basic racing skills with him to Europe that could have helped him prosper on a bigger level. So we get to have his awesome, we’re photogra ever show which is holding an outcome and pretty cool.
Trevor Connor 12:27
That’s a conversation I’ve had with a lot of athletes when they’re at that phase where they can just win a race by empowering everybody that way, what I always say is, you will eventually hit a level where you can’t do that yet where you are going to put in your biggest attack, look back and everybody’s sitting on your wheel.
Chris Case 12:42
There’s only like two people in the world that can do that. Peter Sagal had his best and Matthew Vanderpool at his best and the rest of the world can’t always get away with that stuff,
Colby Pearce 12:52
right? You got to be clever and strong. That’s what is amazing about bike racing. That’s why it’s not an ergometer test or a marathon, it actually involves tactics. And that’s why the outcome of almost any race is never known. Even a race as long and hard as the tour until it actually happens. That’s what makes cycling a beautiful sport. people miss this point all the time they get frustrated. Oh, the best rider didn’t win. No, actually, the best rider one every time. Yeah, yes, there are those crimes that happen occasionally, like when Shelly Olds made the break in the Olympic road race, and then flatted out of it, right, that was a crime. But it wasn’t a crime against Chile. And it wasn’t a crime against tactics. It was a crime of this is 2012. And we still have pneumatic failures and bike races, which is kind of ridiculous. So things happen like that. But aside from that, the best writer always wins the race, right? Because they were the smart if you’re dumb enough to tell them the line. They’re smart enough to sprint round. Yeah, yeah.
Trevor Connor 13:43
So let’s talk here about energy. And why don’t we start by giving won’t do 100 bombs, and you know, scientific definition of energy, please. There really isn’t much jewels. It’s not that complicated. Sorry, not gonna excite you with that one. But let’s talk about what energy is and and even Is there a way to essentially measure energy that you can use in a race? Anybody want to jump on this one I gave mine It’s tools. Really simple.
Colby Pearce 14:13
Yeah, I mean, kilojoules is is the the basic measurement of the amount of work done over a ride or race, right. The interesting part about that is it doesn’t really consider the rate at which you do that work. So you could burn 1000 cages in one hour, that’s a really hard hour, or you can burn 1000 kilojoules over four hours where you’re just puttering
Trevor Connor 14:30
along and doing nothing. Now here’s my nerve bomb, because what power is defined as work overtime? Hmm. Right? So it is that’s where you put in the time.
Colby Pearce 14:41
So then we’re getting a new conversation about TSS, which is a way to score intensity over time. Right, right. So that’s one way to look at it. And then you can break that down into different parts, such as FRC or functional reserve capacity or w prime is another way to look at a similar metric.
Trevor Connor 14:55
Yeah, they’re basically the same. So w prime is what the scientific literature has been using for right Decades FRC is now what you’re seeing that some of the software and other
Colby Pearce 15:04
FRC has popular right?
Trevor Connor 15:06
So functional reserve capacity.
Colby Pearce 15:08
So that’s basically the amount of work you can do over a threshold. In theory. This is hotly debated amongst the science geeks in the training geeks out there right now. It’s sort of right now it’s quantified in the number of cages. At least FRC is what I find interesting about this to nerd out for a minute is that we quantify threshold as an absolute number. Right? Which, that’s a whole other conversation as to whether that’s a good strategy or not, but we don’t quantify FRC is an absolute number. We don’t say your FRC is 525 watts. Instead, we say, Well, this is how many kilojoules of work you could do in between your threshold and infinity, your sprint power. So there are different ways to burn up those cages. In theory, you could be just 20 watts over your threshold, and you might have a longer duration, but it would still be the same number of kilojoules as If, on the other hand, you were hundred watts over your threshold, you might only have a couple minutes.
Trevor Connor 15:59
So we’re just talking about this before I just did a time trial at 9000 feet after spending a month at sea level. I can tell you that threshold is definitely not absolute. And my FRC was zero.
Colby Pearce 16:13
Go to high enough altitude does your FRC just hit zero even out of the box?
Trevor Connor 16:17
Pretty much. Yeah, probably there was a point in the road race where somebody attacked? Oh, I should cover that. And I went, Oh, I can just watch them right away.
It’s a GOV.
Colby Pearce 16:27
Yeah, I agree. I really struggle with FTP because it is relative on any given day. And in a day where a rider super smashed after seven days of hard work. FTP becomes this hypothetical ghost number. Well, john watts, could you do 310 watts for an hour right now? Well, no, I’m tired. Well, then what does it mean?
Trevor Connor 16:42
Now? I mean, these are all good points. So that was kind of what I wanted to get at is we have these metrics that can be useful. But I don’t think there is yet a number that we can put on energy saying, here’s how much energy I have in the race. Here’s what you can use. We had an episode, probably a few months ago now where we talked with Mondo exert. And they had this really interesting kind of live equivalent to FRC, but it adjusts as you’re going hard. Yeah. Which I thought was really appealing, because that’s more accurate. It’s going to go up and down as you do these efforts and
Colby Pearce 17:14
jar analogy. And there are other companies working on a similar metric. I was talking to pat Warner and Ben sharpened stages, and they’ve got their dash head unit. And they were talking about doing a similar metric, where you’re quantifying a writer’s FRC, or I don’t know if they’re going to use that terminology or not exactly. But that concept. And then you can see on the screen, in theory, you got one bullet left or 10% left of your gas tank of magic bullets are matching
Chris Case 17:36
matches, you could use a match book is low.
Colby Pearce 17:38
Yeah, you match because low, so proceed with caution. For me, this gets also back to the heart of our conversation, which is what are we using these metrics for? And in my mind, I think people really, coaches and riders alike tend to put the cart before the horse in a way they’re looking at a proxy. At times, I believe people perceive that the proxies, the real thing, watts are meaningless. They’re just a metric we use to help us understand what’s happening. What are we trying to understand, you’re trying to understand how much juice you have in the tank at that moment in that road race driver, when you went to follow that attack, and you realize I can’t do this. You didn’t look at your power meter and do a math equation and go, Well, can I follow this tech? I’ve been doing 285 watts at the last climb for 14 minutes. Then we search to 310. You just knew immediately because you’ve been racing for how many years? 25 years, three years?
Trevor Connor 18:28
My age 10.
Colby Pearce 18:32
Sorry, I’m sorry. I’m barely confused. I’ve been racing
for over 30 years. Yeah, no, 25 ish, something like that. So never done the count. Right?
Colby Pearce 18:41
Yeah, you gotta get it. He’s been racing isn’t like me. He’s racing.
Trevor Connor 18:46
I tell you this story. I was in a race, what a year ago where some kid kind of gave me attitude. And my normal line is, kid don’t get me added to have been racing since you’ve been a trainee whilst I was about to say, and I’m like, wait a minute, how old are you? And he tells me and I go, Oh, God, I’ve been racing since before you were
Colby Pearce 19:05
Yep. Okay, so you didn’t look at your head unit at that moment, you know, or flick to some screen and see what your max power was or power and time time zones or anything you knew intuitively and instantly that if you fall, that attack, you might explode into a million pieces and have to stop racing or get shelled hopelessly or whatever. So my point is, that is the essence of bike racing is knowing at your soul in the core of your being how many watts you have left and finding the limit of that depth. That is the point of competition, heart rate, kilojoules, FRC, a time on the road, how many balls you’ve drank, how much food you’ve had, all those are different things you keep track of to help you figure that out to help you hone and refine that intuition. That is the art of bike racing. That’s what it’s about. And if you don’t understand this, go read the writer by Tim crabby and that’ll give you a little window perhaps,
Trevor Connor 19:54
Greg completely but my quick agenda. I did look at my power later. And then I cried
Colby Pearce 20:01
That’s what power is. That’s what files are for is to do a post mortem afterwards and help you learn and go. Okay, I can see that on the first climb. I went way too ballistic, I didn’t feel like I was. So my intuition was a little mistaken. I had my balls were too big or whatever ovaries excuse me, ladies. And I got too excited. And I went way deep, trying to keep up with the whoever, and then I put myself in the hole, or conversely, okay, I can see that I was a little too conservative in the first half of that time trial. And I could have written a little harder, and I probably left a few seconds on the course.
Trevor Connor 20:32
So we’re gonna get more into the strategy later in this episode, but just going with his example what I did, I arrived at the race thinking, Okay, I want to get in the breakaway, I want to be in the move, I want to attack I want to be aggressive, and just hadn’t factored in, I just spent a month at sea level, I can’t attack at all 1000 feet. So when the attacks happened, and I saw that I couldn’t do anything, I immediately changed my strategy. When I got no high intensity, I got no big power. So I started racing by when they would ease up, go to the front, I would be like second wheel. And when they would attack, I would even try to respond. I would just sag sag start ramping up the speed slowly so I could get back onto the back of the field. And then when they used up, move back up second wheel, and that’s how I had to get up the climb
Colby Pearce 21:17
and how you were able to survive in the pack until the final grade. I think the race finished. I survived High School outside of Maryland.
Trevor Connor 21:24
Yes. All the way up to ski resort.
Colby Pearce 21:26
Oh, so for those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s like what a five k climb that starts at about 9200 or something.
Trevor Connor 21:32
Right? So the high school is at 84.
Colby Pearce 21:35
Right? No, I mean, the shelf rope climb probably started. Probably about 9000.
Trevor Connor 21:39
The highest point of the race was 93. Let’s check it off afterwards.
Colby Pearce 21:42
Okay, so a little lower. Yeah. So I five k climber it’s high. Yeah, yeah, it’s high. And that’s a rough finish. So yeah. Okay. So to hilltop finish at a really I
Trevor Connor 21:52
mean, I was at a time with unfortunately, you can do this. You can only do the sagging so much when there’s 20 people in the race. Right? Right, right. And I eventually got caught out by it. And then just went, Okay, I’m gonna go into time trial mode. And I basically just held pace with them almost all the way to the top of the climb. Yeah. And then I got in with a few guys peak to peak and finish with them. Okay. That’s all I could do. So I had the energy for
Colby Pearce 22:13
that’s sometimes survival mode is the mission.
Trevor Connor 22:16
So maybe we could talk about all the metrics, but I’m just going to throw out the way I like to describe it. I like to think of it as a jar of energy. We all have a jar, each of us has a different size jar, some people’s jars bigger, some people’s jars smaller. That’s one factor. But the other factor is the size of the mouth. The rate at which you can write it’s how much can you dump the energy out. So I’m somebody like i said i was made from the ground up to be a Domestique, I’ve got a huge jar with a very narrow metal. So I have a lot of energy to spend. But I can’t spend it very fast, where a sprinter might have a much smaller jar, but a huge amount of a giant
Colby Pearce 22:56
lid that he can unscrew and dump it all over the floor immediately. All out,
Trevor Connor 23:01
right. And I think it’s really important to know what type of gr you have, because that’s going to play into your strategy a lot. So with me, I know, if it comes down to a sprint, if there’s four of us in the sprint, I’m fourth, just the way it’s gonna work. But if I can turn it into a race of Let’s all spend a whole lot of energy, I’m gonna last a whole lot of people for sure.
What size jar are you holding?
Colby Pearce 23:24
I’m always a small,
Chris Case 23:26
small jar with a small mouth. Um, I’d say you’re a medium jar with a medium mouth.
getting weird, but
Chris Case 23:34
I don’t mean it to everybody. Maybe I do I appreciate that. Well, I’ll say this is all relative. Of course,
Colby Pearce 23:41
it’s all relative, but also depends cycling. This is what another beautiful thing about Cycling is there’s so many little niches of the sport. And so it really depends on what kind of race we’re talking about. on the track here. One thing yes, no, like, right. That’s what I’m saying. And of course, that’s because the demands of the event are different. on the track. You know, what’s the most easy to compare apples to apples metric we use to compare riders all the time is watts per kilo. And that, of course, applies very well to a race like the one Trevor’s talking about the whole bunch of climbing and then finishes with a whole bunch of climbing and then right climbing cherry on top. But watts per kilo, we have to remember to quote Coggan all mathematical models are invalid. The question is, what is their domain of validity? Meaning? How is watts per kilo actually useful in the real world? Well, you got to remember what it is. I mean, watts per kilo is just numbers on a paper. And those numbers represent how much power the writer is putting out relative to their weight, which means that in the real world, that would be two riders riding against each other. And we’re comparing the watts per kilo but they’re riding in a vacuum because it has zero account for aerodynamics. And in nearly all bike racing, aerodynamics play a massive role in the outcome, massive. There are lots of other factors that confound things like watts per kilo and predicting race results. Unless you’re talking about a really steep hill climb. You’re talking about Pikes Peak hill climb, watts per kilo is a great way to predict the outcome of a race or zwift. Yeah, or zwift. We’re assuming the riders honest about what the kilos Part. So to that end, you look at the demands of the event like an a track race and a points race, which was one of my specialties. The race is about 35 to 45 minutes long, and you average about anywhere between 50 and 55 k an hour. So aerodynamics play a heavy, heavy role in the outcome of that race. And I happen to be really Aero, I’m not that big of a motor. But the other thing I can do is go kind of go again and again and again and again. And I’ve got a big FRC. But the size of the bursts that I’m doing are big, but their arrow, and so I’m recovering better than a rider. So it adds up. Over time, I slowly start to gain an advantage over my peer group. And that’s how I was successful. But you put an engine like that a particular one with my fiber type, which isn’t really that good at dealing with steep stuff, or high torque situations. And you put me in a domestic road race with steep climbs, and I was nothing special at all. If I was really, really trained, and really, really fresh and everything went great. I could be and have an impact on some of the domestic professional races, you know, like sea otter, stuff like that Redlands has kind of flown around here and there, but I never had great results. And a lot of those classic staters is something like most I getting my teeth kicked in all week. I mean, I was there as part of the pack but wasn’t doing anything special. So to that end, that goes back to knowing yourself and knowing what kind of engine you have. And also the nuance of that is knowing what kind of engine how your engine specifically will play out and what type of course, and if you want to waste a lot of energy, try really really, really hard to win races that you suck at. Yeah. I’ve done that a lot in my my racing Adventures by choice or by just by stubbornness. Yeah, right? Raw passion for the sport. Absolutely. Then after a while is like, you know, I’m really not that good at this, maybe I should do something else. And then one day, I was like, I think I’ll try trek racing. And then it was like, Oh, wait,
Colby Pearce 26:42
better at this. That’s part of the adventure, too, is figuring out where you use your bullets. And if I can interject with one more point to that effect. I have, I’ve had this conversation with a couple of my riders recently, I do believe that we always need to look at the long game of the sport at least 12 months in advance whenever you’re thinking about your season and your goals. Whether you’re a coach or an athlete, athletes need to understand that when you there are only so many efforts so many times you can really reach down into your soul and dig really deep. And if you’re smart, you use those efforts on days where the race suits you. And things are going well. You haven’t already flooded four times, and you have a shot to do the best you are going to do. That’s the day to use those rides. Now, if you’re competing at the world level, then you use that on World Championship day. But most people aren’t. Maybe it’s their district time trial, or maybe it’s their district criterium championships, that’s the day where they dig and that’s their goal race. But far too often I see athletes use that that level of effort on a training ride in a group ride or in a race where they have really no chance of doing well anyway, maybe they’re not a climber, but they’re just absolutely Destroying Themselves in a local hook line. Like be smart about this. I was back use this as training and use your energy on the day where it’s really going to benefit you and maximize things because maybe we’ve got half a dozen, maybe a dozen really D days and a hard season tops. And those days of use them. Right. Your throttle afterwards,
Trevor Connor 28:07
I think of it is you have this line. And as long as you stay below that line, you’re going to recover, you’re going to be fine. Yeah, everybody can cross that line. But when you cross it, there’s a price to pay. Yeah. And it might be a week, two weeks before you you recover. And so as you said, you got to know that line. And if you’re about to cross it, you have to look at it, you have to look at the race, you have to look at the event and go, is it worth it?
Colby Pearce 28:31
Yeah, yeah. Is Kansa your goal for the season? And you’re doing well, that’s probably a good place to cross that line. Right? If you’ve already flagged it nine times, does it make sense to cross that line to bridge up to the 300 writer and smash them before you cross the line? Probably not.
Chris Case 28:46
I’ve saved it for another day. Why don’t we move into some specifics and give some examples of wasting energy? How do people do this? Why do people do this?
Trevor Connor 28:56
So I’m going to throw out the first one because this is the biggest to me is watching riders respond to every single move. Yeah, this is when I last few years when I was coaching up in Toronto, we had a couple riders on our team who I would talk to after the race because I would see this, there was just non stop attacks. breakaways would only last 2030 seconds, and then the next one would go. And we had Riders on the team who would respond to every single one. And then when the real move went 40 minutes into the race. They were no other scene.
Chris Case 29:24
Yeah. Yeah. And I think, to generalize, you see this in lower categories more than you do in cat one races, but that’s, again, a generalization
as a broad stroke. Yeah, I agree.
Trevor Connor 29:37
You have to be willing to let things go up the road. And more importantly, you have to experiment and races and learning to identify that moves going nowhere, that moves going nowhere. That one’s dangerous. I’m
going with that.
Trevor Connor 29:52
All the great breakaway riders that I’ve written with and I that I know they have an incredible sense for that they can let 20 moves go up the road without You’re even batting an eyelash. And then all of a sudden one move goes, they’re out of the field like a bullet and you never see it again. Yeah,
Chris Case 30:07
take some patience. It takes some knowing your competitors, take some confidence to in knowing that you’re making the right choices. If you’re not, you’re out of the game. Yeah,
Colby Pearce 30:17
I would say that I’ve been on all sides of that equation at different points. Meaning there are days where I’ve been the guy chasing every move, and then miss the actual break. Yep, there are days where I’ve been sitting in watching and waiting and waiting and waiting and knowing and then you just get hit by lightning, you know, oh, that’s the move, boom, and you go with it, you’re gone. And other people are looking at you like you’re from Mars because you haven’t done anything for an hour. And then I’ve been the guy who has intentionally covered every single move, and in certain very narrow circumstances, just to offer a counterpoint I think that can be applicable. Points racing is a good example of that. Especially at the World Cup level, where you’ve got 24 Riders on the track and 20 of them are legit bike riders, and you really, it’s hard to look around and know sure who’s going to comprise the final break here and and points races can go for those of you who may not know any which way you can, you can put 24 Riders on the track and ride them once and no riders will lap and it’ll be a sprinters race, although sprinter race is really a misnomer, because when you have 12, Sprint’s that’s not something a sprinter can a true sprinter usually repeat. On the other hand, you can have that same 24 Riders on the track and put them there, and you’ll get the winner will lap four times. So it’s an absolute yardsale. And people everywhere. And so there are lots of chances. That means the second place, third place, and fourth place riders may have taken three laps, etc, etc. So that involves covering a lot of moves. The interesting part about it is later in my career, I started to work really honestly, and this is a bit of an off the wall idea but go with me on it. I started to work on my stuff laughing at me. So
Trevor Connor 31:51
this is nothing new.
Colby Pearce 31:54
I really believe that when writers are really in tune with what’s happening and they have rested, peaceful, confident mind, they can go into a race and have a large degree of premonition, you have all humans have voices, clairvoyance, eyeball ins, etc. It’s just a question of tapping into it. And there are days where I would go to the race. And as a coach, I was able to do this on certain days. And as a rider, I would look at the points race field when they were all standing waiting for my check. And I would look and just see and listen to what my brain came up with and my intuition come up with and I would say these four riders are going to be the top three. And there were three or four times where I was hundred percent right? I did it once when Brad Humphreys woke up I was like, follow this guy, that guy and that guy. Now as it turned out that day, Brett didn’t have a leg to follow any of those guys, but those guys were the top three. I just knew and it wasn’t because I’ve watched their splits or knew their training or talk to a coaches or anything. I just you see it, you just know it.
Trevor Connor 32:52
Yeah, a lot of people listening here you’re racing the same people race, right? You can start to get a sense if you get the guys that are always in the breakaway. And who are the guys who are never in the breakaway. Yeah. And take advantage of that for sure. For sure. And that’s local familiarity is a powerful weapon in that sense. I’m
Colby Pearce 33:08
talking about maybe another level from that where I’m racing with 20. Guys, I don’t know at all that’s a little harder and you just have young Yep, it’s just raw intuition. And there are moments also I’ll say in a peloton a road peloton, particularly in a road race where the fields kind of whipped into that angry bee’s nest sort of action of the race or chapter of the race where people are attacking and know there’s going to be a breakaway. And it’s happening and it’s just one force trauma. People are just hitting and hitting and hitting and going right. And you’re sort of watching going. Was that it? Is that the move? Should I follow this one should I follow that one? And they’re not always but frequently if you’re really in touch with what’s happening the psychology that peloton you feel the energy of the peloton approaching a kind of a crescendo. And when that point hits, the very next move is the one. So it’s not even necessarily about mechanically or intellectually thinking who is in the brake. These riders are dangerous. It’s more about the timing. It’s about the energy of the peloton, you can just tell that everybody’s just frenetic and they’re going and going. And the elastics gonna break. And it’s just the right move. You cover one or two moves and boom, that’s it, you’re gone. And
Trevor Connor 34:11
I love that you bring that up, because so many writers really focus on the this is what the what they read, or what they’re told is, you have to have the right mix in the breakaway. Yeah. Which is always nice. And there’s certain teams that you do need to see in the breakaway, but you’re never going to have that perfect mix. Right? And I see guys miss breakway. So it’s always what wasn’t quite right. Yeah, I always tell people spend more time looking behind you than in front of you. If for exactly what you’re saying there are times you can attack the field at 500 watts and you won’t get a second on Yep, there are times you can just roll away at 200 watts and you’ll get 30 cent gas. Yep, you have to read what’s going on in the field because that gives you a better sense of when that winning move is going to happen and when it isn’t, I agree 100% and just like any flow state, right, you talk your athletes talk about their perfect race or their perfect marathon or whatever
Colby Pearce 34:58
they did. And flow state descriptions tend to be very common if you have access to intellectual thought. But you’re also falling to a larger your instinct and you feel connected to your body. And that’s ultimately the state that you want to tap into that state. Consciously whenever possible, you won’t be able to drop into it by choice. But particular whenever you’re trying to solve a tactical equation, there’s so many variables, whether course undulations, heat, temperature and humidity, team interactions, team tactics, different objectives of different teams, all those you’re factoring in together as a giant pile of spaghetti noodles, you’re trying to make sense of it. If you’re in that flow state, suddenly things can become clear. But if you’re not if you’re conflicted, if you’re thinking about how you didn’t eat the right breakfast, if your stomach’s upset, if you forgot when your water bottles, or you know you got in a fight with your girlfriend on the way the race or whatever, then that can disrupt that flow state. Or if you forget shoes, that tends to do it.
Trevor Connor 35:53
That’s really gonna mess you up. You’ve seen that a few times is a big problem. How many times have you done that? I’ve never done it myself ever. Wow. Never done it myself yet. I did take a guy all the way from Canada down to Arkansas to do tri peaks. First day, our hotel was like good hour and a half away from where the stage started. Yeah, we got there and guys just like, Oh, no. Wow.
Chris Case 36:18
Yeah, that’s a good feeling. No, no.
Trevor Connor 36:21
We told him to go knock in the two united van and tell them he is an idiot and beg they were nice enough to lend him some shoes.
Chris Case 36:29
Being out of position, whether that’s sitting on the front, sitting on the outsides, just not knowing where you should be at any given moment. In a race that’s a big one.
Colby Pearce 36:38
Well, General, sitting on the edge of the peloton, it’s pros and cons. If you’re sitting on the edge, if you think of the head of the peloton, like shaped kind of like an arrow, and you’re along the edges of the arrow, then you’re gaining more wind, but you have easier access to cover attacks or move up as needed. When you’re in the middle, you’re getting a much better draft but you’re at the whim of who’s in front of you. You can’t respond to an attack that happens. Three riders to the right of you. If you’re six riders back, you can all you can do is watch it and then you hear people yell sometimes Hey, go or something like that. Mm hmm. Nothing, nothing sounds more futile and telling other people how to raise the price. So there’s pros and cons to that when you’re on the outside of peloton you’re catching more wind. One way to minimize that is always be conscious of usually there’s some degree of side wind happening. So if you’re going to be on the side of the peloton be on the downwind side, that’s not rocket science. Unfortunately, that tends to be in the gutter most of the time. So then you’re subject to more road furniture, more cracks between the gap between the asphalt and concrete curbs, dogs, pedestrians, road debris, every you know, flat tires, people sliding off in the grass, all that stuff. So again, it’s always pros and cons, I kind of think of being in a peloton is a little bit of a binary equation, like every time you are afforded the opportunity to either move up or stay where you are, it’s kinda like a one or zero. And the more zeros you choose, the more conservative you’re being, the more energy you’re harnessing, it’s saving for later. But the more chances you’re giving up in the short term, you might be fine with that if your whole objective is to wait till the final five k climb, and then torture everybody. And no matter what happens the first part of the day, then you’re going to make all zero choices, the first part of the race, you’re going to hide, you’re always going to be on the downwind side, or I was going to try to be in the middle pack, eating and drinking. When when there’s a really big acceleration in front of you, you’re going to sag a little bit when a couple riders get around you. And then when it opens up later, you might eat your way up a little bit again. But on the other hand, if you’re actively trying to make the breakaway in the first 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes of the race, you’re making all one choices, you have to be on the outside of peloton to be reactive, you have to see what’s happening, you have to see who’s in the breakaway. So you can decide if you want to jump across as a second move, and bridge, etc. And you have to also whenever you start to get swallowed, you have to actively box your way out of that corner so that you can be part of the race again. Because if you’re passive, you’re not able to make the break.
Trevor Connor 38:45
So this goes back to your earlier point about how important it is to learn to read the field and see what’s going on because there are times in the race where Nothing’s going on. So something below the field, you got it. There are times where if you’re five wheels out of position, you’re races over and you need to know those moments. I mean, I still remember first pro race I ever did. The thing that struck me the most was seeing all these guys who were high level pros at the back of the field sometimes even off the back just chatting away. You’re like not paying attention. I’m like I thought they were pros so they’ll they know better. And then over the year I realized
Colby Pearce 39:19
at the right moment they’re at the front
Chris Case 39:21
they have advantage of those relaxed moments.
Trevor Connor 39:23
They knew when nothing was going on and went to the
Colby Pearce 39:26
back and saved energy. The essence of this principle is that as a professional writer, you become very astute and very accomplished at saving as much energy as possible the right moment which is of course what we’re talking about and that sometimes means literally being last wheel and peloton and conserving. Yeah, because when you’re riding in a big peloton at hundred storefronts peloton, you know, 180 200 riders, that’s a massive amount of wind that you don’t have to deal with in the back by 180 riders accelerates and that’s a long paceline Yes, it
Trevor Connor 39:55
- I when I was learning how to read the field One of the first things I learned to do is there were certain writers exactly Chris was saying, if they were at the back you knew nothing was going on. You know when you saw him at the front get scared. Yeah, something’s happening. Yeah.
Colby Pearce 40:10
Yeah, one of my first older Bay road races which is a famous local race here in Colorado. It’s just like it sounds it’s half Halford, half paid for approximately depending on which year in which generation did I showed up thinking I knew what I was doing and all the cores like guys were there. And it was a huge field. This is back when we had 100 rider, peloton and local won two races, which unfortunately isn’t really a thing too often anymore. And I went into that first third section, probably a fifth wheel thinking I was gonna do something cool save energy. And that was a great example of a painful lesson. saving energy at the wrong moment because I got my teeth kicked in. I spent the next three hours hanging on for dear life, Jason going through the shrapnel guys get dropped crashing flatting water bottle waiting. Dogs can’t see. Yeah, it was that was one of my early
he had a story to tell after that one. She didn’t
Trevor Connor 41:00
do very well. Okay, so we have to move on to this next one, because Colby added this to our list. And I really want to hear what this is writing in the washing machine as a way of wasting energy. Yeah,
Colby Pearce 41:10
I’ve been guilty of this many times. If you think about the front of the peloton, once the breakaway is established, or once the rhythm of the race is established, there tends to be about four or five riders at the front pulling or you know, plus or minus. And then just behind that there’s sort of a group of about, we’ll say, maybe 30% of the total peloton size, that sort of trying to be sixth wheel. And this is the washing machine. So you you kind of battle your way up to six wheel or eighth wheel so you can see what’s going on, you can feel like you’re at the front. And then another rider comes past you another rider comes past you and then you end up getting spit back to about 25th wheel and then you start the process over again. And if you do that for 3040 hundred K, it’s a lot of wasted energy. And I remember I recall one day I think it might have been at a stage in boasts where I just got sick of doing that for like 100 K and I dropped back and then there was Ian McGregor at the back of the field. He’s like Dude, I’ve been watching do that for like an hour and a half. What the hell are you doing? He was just sitting there like three legs off the back of 130 rightfield just floating, telling stories and like eating gummy bears. And he went on to win a stage and I didn’t that had nothing to do with the fact that I’d waste all the energy in just a way way better by Krishna than I was. But it was a good lesson for me because I just was so engaged in trying to be at the front I was I was a little and to be fair in my mind. I was really conscious of the terrain I was being attentive and I was worried about a little bit about crosswind and things floating
Chris Case 42:25
tricky sometimes to know when Yeah, when to be attentive and when to relax like Trevor was saying, you know, you can key off of other guys sometimes but you’re always taking a risk to know
Trevor Connor 42:36
somebody it’s pros and cons and I agree with you 100% to be six wheel you have to fight it takes a lot of energy there people are going to constantly want to take that wheel from you and you have to keep fighting them yeah 25th wheel it’s pretty easy to sit there It doesn’t take as much energy and you’re still in the race
Colby Pearce 42:52
you’re in the race you’re you’re close enough to where if something really happened you could be reactive to it yeah if someone yeah five guys something or walking out the front door a threat or whatever. The flipside of that example is one year when I worked with the Garmin sharp team, I did the wealth of spania as a staff member and during one particular stage where the rider for bit cracked we they see it broken in the boss about two days prior so everyone was pretty pretty blown at that point. drive around in September in August and September in southern Spain who your conditioning is is important there. And anyway, at one point Ryder was rhetor hedged all was way back in the peloton like last wheel. And I don’t know if a team specifically targeted him or, but it was just one of those moments in a grand tour where the pace abruptly changed. Everyone was bunched up and riding along and just doing their thing and there’s some breakaway at the road. And then the peloton just exploded with 60 K to go and rider was in the last group it was in the peloton was in pieces and complete yard sale and the entire team had to drive back drop back and chase and chase and chase the chase. And I said I think if I recall correctly, they still lost a couple minutes by the time they hit the line. It wasn’t a massive bleeding of time, but it was definitely giving up time. And it just goes to show you that the larger the peloton and the deeper the pointy end of that is in terms of strength, the bigger risk you’re taking with that kind of thing happening. Because if you’re at the wrong end of that when it goes man, it’s just Yeah, it’s a numbers game. It’s the same thing with cross winds. A 12 rider Ashkelon that is working well together can annihilate a single rider annihilate in one kilometer probably less. You have no chance when all those riders can be 60% as strong as you if they’re working well together and using the wind, you’re done. You have no chance. It’s the power of the group working together in the wind that does it. So that’s people lesson for me as a young writer and it’s something you only need to learn a couple times. It’s like being bludgeoned with a baseball bat. Alright, that sucked. I think I’ll avoid that next time.
Trevor Connor 44:45
The first time I ever did tour the tuna first stage, do this math in your head quickly. First stage, hundred and seven kilometers. Two hours, three minutes. And it was not flat.
So 50 an hour. Yeah,
Trevor Connor 44:57
it was really fast. Anybody. You got to flat tire, they’re just toast. But the last probably 510 K, we were strung out single file. And I remember coming over this hill, I was middle of the pack. So there’s over 200 people in the field. And you could see kilometer up the road. And it was just a line of riders. And I remember afterwards, we cross the finish line, still just absolutely strung out. And I did kind of a loop around the block to cool down, and the field was still finishing. Yeah. And so it turned out the time between the when the first ride across the finish line and the last rider cross, and they all got the same time ended up being no gaps. Amazing. Wow. was over two minutes. Wow. But had there been one gap in there?
Colby Pearce 45:45
Somebody would last a minute or more. Right? Or a whole group would have? Yeah.
Colby Pearce 45:50
that feel wants to drive it sounds like it’s aligned with 500 meters later that feel would have shattered and there would have been no gaps. It just happened to be stretched out on the line. That’s,
Trevor Connor 45:59
it was really cool. I’ve never seen that again. Yeah, but it was it was wild. But that’s what he has. He said that’s what a field can do. And if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’re not moving up, you can’t do anything about it. Yeah. sepka is with Team jumbo visma was a breakout star in 2018, winning the tour of Utah handily and then doing his first Grand Tour at the volta Sep one yutan, dramatic fashion, expanding a lot of energy. But since heading to Europe, he’s had to learn a lot about how to play the energy game.
Chris Case 46:27
You’ve you’ve come a long way in the last three years you raced in a criterium in Denver three years ago, or three and a half years ago now. And you had to have a teammate or a teammate came up to you and said, Hey, set me might want to ride in the drops. And here we are, you’re racing at the Vuelta in your first year on the World Tour. that’s a that’s a rapid progression. I’m sure there are a few pieces of the puzzle that are missing from your repertoire. But I wonder if one of the things you’ve had to pick up the most is how to be efficient in a pack when to conserve your energy and when to attack. Is that true? Have you been able to pick up that? Well,
personally, that’s one thing that I need to work on the most is just be better at saving energy during the race, and wait for the key moments. But you know, a lot of it just comes with, with experience. But yeah, that was the cool thing about the the vault is that there’s so many different different stages, so many different kinds of scenarios that you find yourself in. And when you’re around a lot of guys that have done not only that race, but are professionals for 10 or so years, you you kind of cue off to them, kind of see how they float through the pack, compare them to other guys that are you know, maybe wasting energy. And and then you kind of, you know, have at least for me, I kind of have these teammates, non teammates, just a group of riders that you notice and cue off of during the races and mimic what they’re doing in the in the pack. And that’s been pretty helpful for me.
Chris Case 48:04
And so what are the things that they’re doing that that you see as a good example of, of what to do in terms of consuming energy? Yeah, I
think a lot of it’s hard to explain when you’re not in like in the in the heat of the moment, I guess but you know, guys like like Valverde, he’s really just calm, never never needs to put his nose into the wind. Until he does and when he does it, it’s usually something that’s that’s gonna make a difference whereas other guys get tak tak at the wrong moments. They’re not going to use use the right momentum, things like that. And you can kind of see see the guys that look like they don’t care about the win until they win and then the guys that look like they really care too much and then then they’re exposed at the end I guess. So I think I think that’s one example. And it’s hard to it’s really hard to explain I guess the guys that hang up the back but don’t really hang at the back like Yates is pretty calm. You know some guys you think oh man, they’ve been on the bag all day but then you look around at the front and it’s like
Chris Case 49:19
sounds like there’s a sweet spot to be in both mentally and sort of physically in terms of where in the pack you want to be. You don’t want to be too close to the front because then you’re getting getting wind in your face you don’t go too far back because then the chances of getting caught up in a crash or moving the or missing the move are higher. Seems like there’s it’s all about having a sense for the race and knowing that sweet spot that you need to be in.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. A lot of it is just having that that sense experience. But I think I think a lot of you know just personality wise you can see certain guys get A bit agitated maybe and then they’re then they’re wasting energy trying to be at the front. And then on the opposite end, you see guys that are way, way too calm. And and then yeah, they have they’ll miss a split or get caught out in a crash, things like that. So I think it’s just knowing yourself, how to stay calm how not to get worked up and, and use a lot of energy that you don’t need to use but also not being super complacent and just kind of feathering around in the back.
Chris Case 50:30
I got to ask, I’ve talked to you previously about this. There were times at the tour of Utah this year where you launched attacks when it seemed like it was really early, or you didn’t need to launch an attack because you were already in the leaders jersey and history would tell us that the best method would just be to sit and play defense. But you you were aggressive out there. Is that something that you’ve learned from that? You know, you can’t get away with that in Europe as much as that? Or is that just your style that you you can’t hold back when the when you want to be aggressive? You got to be aggressive?
Yeah, a lot of it depends on the on the situation. And I think for me, I was just just having fun, honestly, not really thinking about the the end result and yeah, maybe you do something that’s not the smartest thing but yeah, maybe I guess I was just lucky and had good shape and was able to make some some moves that were a bit risky, I guess. Make those kind of things work. But yeah, in Europe, there’s definitely a lot less forgiveness for something like that. And there’s deeper, deeper talent pool cap for me, I’m still so so inexperienced, really. So even things like pulling on the front. I’ll do in a way that’s, you know, maybe maybe a bit taxing for the guys that I’m actually pulling for so that that’s one thing I learned, you know, you need to stay steady. Think about the people that are on your wheel. Think about where the winds coming from all those things. So yeah, not only in when you’re trying to win the race, but also when you’re working for other people you need to stay stay composed.
Chris Case 52:14
I imagine for someone like you just like, for me writing steady is is not the easiest thing to do. It sounds easy, but it’s not and so I know what you’re saying when it comes to not being able to ride as steady as the guy sitting on your wheel might want you to
Yeah, you see like sky they really do a good job of that. You know, everyone says all their their study is boring. But yeah, it works for a climb, but they also when they’re pulling their they’re killing people on the back when it’s you know, coming off of a downhill or, you know certain sections of technical road. They really know how to make their effort, count at least.
Chris Case 53:03
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Trevor Connor 54:20
Here’s a really easy one for you. When you are going into a road race that’s exposed know where the crosswind stretches are because the difference going through a crosswind stretch when you’re sitting 10th wheel versus 16th wheel if you want to talk about wasting energy, yep, because that 60 is wheel you are in the gutter you are dying, you know you’re probably going to have splits that you’re later on gonna have to bridge across 100% I would extend that to any obstacle or any pinch point or anything that causes the pace to rise whether that’s a transition from pavement to dirt, yep. Or a narrowing of the course or a change in direction on the course that changes the wind direction. from which it comes from all of those times, and others that we that I’m not listing, that’s when you need to be way more attentive, most likely be way closer to the front, because something’s going to happen, chances are likely that something is going to happen. So we’re going to talk a little later about times when it’s worth wasting energy. And here’s a bit of an odd one. But one that’s really I think, is really important. If you are at a race that you really care about, and you’ve never written the course a day or two beforehand, preferably two days beforehand, drive or ride the course.
Yeah, no, Asscher recon is
Colby Pearce 55:32
very important. It is it’s good to know that then you you’ve got in your head, and you know, okay, this is this weird chicane, I’m a little too far back. Yeah, right instinct and you move up and then sure enough, something happens. And before you know it, you’ve it feels cut in half, and you’re on the right end of that
Chris Case 55:46
split. Hopefully, one of the other positional things we didn’t talk about, was hitting the climbs at the back of the group.
Colby Pearce 55:53
Well, like we were saying, Chris was saying earlier, anytime there’s a significant obstacle change changing terrain, in the race, that’s a good place to be at the front, because you, you can anticipate that the pace of the race is going to, it’s going to change, it’s going to go faster. And so when you put yourself at the back, even if you’re a really strong, confident climber, you’re asking for it, because you’re gonna have to wade your way through all the people that are getting dropped, and Sheldon dropping chains and dropping bottles, and you’re sacrificing something by being certainly lonely. So it rarely makes sense to start a significant climbing race in the middle of field or the backer field. If you’re doing that, it’s because you’ve got no choice usually, not because you did it on purpose, right.
Trevor Connor 56:31
But if you think about it, the people generally driving up that climb are really good climbers.
Colby Pearce 56:36
So when you’re sitting at the back, even if you’re one of the better climbers, you still put yourself as a disadvantage. Right? Right. Yeah,
Trevor Connor 56:41
well, you’re if you’re at the back, you’re saying to almost kind of an arrogant, I’m faster than the fastest guys at the front. Because to stay with them, I’m gonna actually have to go up this climb faster than that. Mm hmm.
Colby Pearce 56:50
doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Trevor Connor 56:52
So you could save a lot of energy by hitting especially the shorter climbs at the front and slip back,
Colby Pearce 56:59
back and watching. Also the advantage of sagging during a climb if the if the pace doesn’t go ballistic, you start the front is you get a chance to drift back through the group a little bit and assess your competition while are climbing. Yep, see who’s got the good poker face? See who’s letting go. So you starting to bond a little bit, see who’s making the effort to be at the front end, right? So it gives you that that little chance before the fireworks kind of shift their front derailleur while you pass them. Maybe. No, don’t do I don’t recommend it. Especially now that shifters are honored in these modern principles. They are the old days you just reached out to the town to dump them in a big hurry. Yeah.
Oh, yeah. Well,
Trevor Connor 57:37
so we talked about positioning, the one that I really wanted to bring up is sitting on the front for no reason. So I call that the big dumb horse. And I say that somebody didn’t deer in late because I had been one of the biggest dumbest horses I’ve ever met. Mr. Clydesdale, just because I enjoy it.
Chris Case 57:54
Or a big jar with big mouth. No big jar with a small mouth. You’re also a big horse with a salad. big dumb horses this small jar brain.
Trevor Connor 58:07
Okay, thanks. That’s the most unflattering description I’ve gotten in a while. Thanks, Chris. I appreciate that. So it’d be half a big dumb horses with small brain jars or jar brains. What was it? I just call you a Canadian. That works. There you go. We’ll go every Canadians coming after.
Colby Pearce 58:26
See, they’re too polite to cross the border.
Trevor Connor 58:30
I am still embarrassed by the fact that we finally had an episode where we had two Canadians as guests. So it was three Canadians, one American and a quiet. I’m not. We were still cracking Canada jokes.
Chris Case 58:40
You were talking about Justin Bieber and all these famous Canadians that you had something for us like really? You’re gonna go with Justin Bieber as you’re
out of the woods. I think
Trevor Connor 58:51
he brought it up. No, I’m going with a rush. Sorry.
All right. Let’s Yeah,
Trevor Connor 58:55
I was actually just the other night coming back from Red Rocks. I introduced my nephew to rush because he hadn’t really heard them. Like you can’t call yourself Canadian. Yeah, yeah, we just played rushed all the way back to go. He was very excited about it put on the song y, y, z. And he’s like, Oh, I can’t wait. That’s about no American gets it. It’s the code for the Toronto airport. Oh,
Colby Pearce 59:17
that makes sense. Okay, anyway, lots of y’s and Z’s in Toronto.
Trevor Connor 59:21
This is not helping us with energy whatsoever. All right back. So back to the big dumb horse. Get it on the front, you expend a lot of energy. And there is a temptation with a lot of writers. If you can’t think of something good to do. The will I’ll just sit in the field and save energy feels stressful, or you feel like you need to do more. So the reaction is well get on the front and push the pace or maybe they’re thinking
Colby Pearce 59:45
I’m not getting a workout.
right. This is a race dammit.
Trevor Connor 59:50
Let’s go fast. Anytime you are on the front. The first thing to do is ask yourself, why am I here? And if you can’t immediately come up with a good reason. Get off the front.
Colby Pearce 1:00:02
Anytime you’re in the wind, even if you’re on a breakaway, you should really, the purpose of pulling is to either improve your chances of winning or doing better in the race or your teammates chances of winning or doing better in the race. That’s it. There’s no other reason to pull on a bike race. Everyone signed waivers and pin down numbers. Your objective is to be as many pop people as possible. You are actually compromising that ability. Most of the time when you’re pulling, especially if you’re being the big dumb horse. Fearing to break away You have to make a decision, however, that how is the relative strength of the other riders in the breakaway compared to me? Am I going to try to attack them before I reach the finish and get away so I don’t have to deal with the sprint or am I the fastest sprinter in the sprint by far, which case I want to make everyone as cohesive as possible because I know my chances of winning are very high. But if you’ve got no teammates, and the breakaways gone and the field slows down, and you get impatient or bored, you feel like you’re not getting a Kj Zahn or whatever. That’s not the time to go to the front. I’ve been in a million bike races and all of them eventually heat up again. You just have to be patient. Everyone is thinking the same thing. While most everyone they’re all thinking, Man, I can’t believe we’re just sitting here coasting at 20 k an hour. breakaways getting minute after minute after minute right now, that means an explosion is coming. And if you just go to the front right along at 26 miles an hour doing nothing, then when the explosion calm, you’re just setting up the other riders to annihilate you.
Trevor Connor 1:01:14
A really good way I had bike racing described to me as a game of chicken. Don’t be the first one to flinch. When it’s going really slow and a brake waves going up the road and you’re getting nervous. Yes, everybody else is getting nervous. Let somebody else flinch first, yeah, let them get on the front and do the poll,
Colby Pearce 1:01:31
or start attacking.
Chris Case 1:01:34
All right, let’s flip it around. What are the best ways to save energy, which is really what we’re talking about here saving the energy to release it at the best times. So, Colby Trevor, I’ll turn it over to you guys. What are your favorite ways? What are your best?
Trevor Connor 1:01:52
Brian? Nothing’s going on. Do we need to say more?
Colby Pearce 1:01:57
well, I’d say there’s that Arrowhead sweet spot, you know, you want to be Yeah, 18th 20th 25th wheel in a peloton tends to be where you’re, you’re, you can see what’s happening, you’re still you’re not taking yourself out of the race, you’re not completely passive. But at the same time, you can save a lot of energy depending on whether you’re riding up upwind or downwind and kind of tucking yourself into that place. And that’s where a lot of clever riders tend to hide out. And when you want to really check, low calm a little call me in terms of saving energy, but also still not checking out completely and rotting in the back. There’s a smart way to do it.
Chris Case 1:02:29
I’ve spoken with the piece of mcelveen a couple times now in recent months, and he’s a mountain biker, but he’s been doing a lot of these gravel races. And I talked to him, they’re long, these gravel races tend to be really long races. And I always asked him the question was, so what’s your strategy? And his stock answer is kind of the same every time it’s the board as long as possible. Yeah. Which is meaning don’t hold, don’t be patient. You got to be patient. It’s not about sitting. It’s about waiting. It’s about waiting for that right moment. It’s serving, it’s the all those zeros and zeros, you’re choosing zeros rather than ones. You’re Yeah, you’re just conserving. And for certain people, that means being bored. for other people. It’s not about boredom, it’s about conservation. But I’m with patients like that’s my struggle in long road races is having the patience dealing with the boredom of just sitting there and waiting for the right moment. But that’s how you invite races sometimes.
Trevor Connor 1:03:20
So I do it by what I call the average power game, which is when you’re in those couple hours of the race or Nothing’s going on, I watch my average power and play this game of how low can I get? I go? Yeah, it’s like trying to drive your car and getting the max miles per gallon out of it.
Colby Pearce 1:03:33
Yep. Trying to maximize gas mileage.
Trevor Connor 1:03:35
I still remember the last few years ago at cascade, it’s not the last time is that cascade. Second Last time, we had a rider on our team it was we just finished the flat stage, which was nothing was going to happen. It was going to finish in a field sprint, but it was still three and a half, four hours. And back at our host house. He was showing everybody as far as I look at this average 263 watts and I just sit there going, Oh, you’re gonna pay for that tomorrow. Yeah. Why did you do that? Yeah, don’t
brag about it either.
Colby Pearce 1:04:02
Yeah, races are not places to average to shoot for high average powers. You know, less, you’re talking about the Lookout Mountain hill climb, it’s a 20 minute Hill Climb or whatever. And you’re just smashing even there. It doesn’t make sense to go for it necessarily. Because, again, when factors into most races, unless you’re talking about a headline that averages 20% you’re still doing work for other people. So
Trevor Connor 1:04:23
so you you want to practice the energy game, this whole or average power, or whatever you want to call it. This is practice not wasting energy. I used to love to do this, I would go to the weekly Wednesday night training race. And when I was getting pretty close to some target races, go into that race. And my rule was I couldn’t break a 155 heart rate. And it’s figuring out how to stay with the field. Stay with the leaders without ever doing a really big
Chris Case 1:04:48
Yeah, that’s interesting too, and doing that on us. Like if you could do that week to week on the same course you can see improvements. You can experiment with things and try different things and try to bring that Number down that average power down.
Trevor Connor 1:05:02
I wouldn’t do it every time because I do believe you’re going to train races to be held apart. But I would have a couple in a row where I go, now I’m going to go practice surfing wheels staying in the right spot, so I’m never in trouble.
Colby Pearce 1:05:13
Yeah, I’ve given my riders that kind of task list and training races, from time to time, I’ll ask them to treat especially flat credit, those are the most useful ones from a coaching perspective, because you can do anything you want with them, you can have them go to the front smash themselves into oblivion, you can have them sit and try time sprints. Or you can have them float like motor pacing. I want you to never hit the wind today, you’re doing as little work as possible. And I also want you to give me a report card of who did what. So I make them watch the tactics of other writers write this writer attack five times this writer pulled, you know, for no reason for five K or whatever. And then we all dropped him later or whatever. And then a lot of times, that’s a useful exercise because it keeps the writer from getting bored. It also teaches them to focus externally instead of internally on their own sensations. And it helps them sharpen their tactical acronym, because they’re starting to look around and realize the patterns of racing and see the bad decisions that other riders are making or the clever decisions that other riders are making. Sometimes they see like, man, I can’t believe this guy just ninja his way across that breakaway. How did he do that? I barely even saw him do it. Right. And if you were busy falling wheels, or you’re already in the brake, you wouldn’t have seen that. So it can be a good lesson.
Trevor Connor 1:06:17
That’s a great point. I don’t think you can be a great racer until you can read the field. Yes, what’s going on? Yeah, multiple time. granfondo World Champion, Bruce Byrd is one of those guys, you just assume will be there when the winning breakaway forms in the race. I asked him about it. And he felt this ability to be in the moose comes from having a sense for the field.
The time when the fields, you can just feel some of the other riders, okay, they’re not kicking in, they’re not taking turn. You know, some races like it wouldn’t give me granfondo, the World Championship where people are trying to win. And you’re five year age category. And it’s on the red tide to go in soon as you can. And as soon as you can, might be a half hour from now, I don’t know, like it says, for an hour. So because everyone else is going hard all the time. There. It’s crazy. It’s such so on, you have to have to get so ready for those because what’s happening on the road in front of you like oh, you just can’t wait in front of you. They’re all over the road. After that you’re waiting for the holders on the consent. So people are crawling out of the patch over the quarters, because they’ve wiped out, they’re all muddy, you’re like screaming down the hill. And then someone’s like, Oh, it’s so important that they talk about the video. You know, like the language. The guy that I’m following in those races, how much you use your voice, amongst, amongst all everything else that helps to wreck people and get yourself where you need to pay raises a different rate for all sorts of different scenarios. wrote down writers out there funny.
Trevor Connor 1:07:55
Yeah. But as you said, there’s so much craziness. It’s you can’t rationalize it, you have to have the sense
of you wait around and try gaming it? Well. I don’t know. I haven’t seen that. Look at all.
Trevor Connor 1:08:09
Let’s get back to the show and talk about how you learn to play the energy game.
Colby Pearce 1:08:14
My advice as people are climbing categories, is always almost always the same. Which is when you get to the top of your given category, if you’re a four, you want to become a three or if you’re three, you’ve got enough points to become a to wait as long as possible. Yes, and kick you out. Why? Because you learn the most when you’re at the top of your category. When you’re getting points, and you’re winning races or close to winning races. That’s when you’re learning how to win races. When I was 17, there was this unspoken rule. All of us had this race to become one as fast as we could. And we thought it was cool. But it didn’t really serve us because we didn’t spend much time in the lower categories working our way through when you’re a four and you’re winning fours races. That’s when you get the best lessons. That’s when you make the biggest mistakes. You go, Oh, I could have won that. But I jumped too early. And then three guys went around me but I knew I was the strongest guy. You’ll never forget that moment. But if you skip that race to go two threes and hang on for another three months in threes races mid pack, would take you another year to get to the point where you got to learn that lesson potentially. So I always advise writers to pause. Just stay at the top of the camera as long as you can until they kick you out. And the best case scenario is when the whole field gets pissed at you because you’re winning so much and they gang up on you. Yeah, then you’re going to learn amazing lessons. Yeah,
you got 80
Trevor Connor 1:09:25
He wants you to lose.
Colby Pearce 1:09:26
That’s the best time to win a race or get your teeth kicked in. You’re going to learn either way. There’s no that you can do no wrong at that point.
Trevor Connor 1:09:32
Strength doesn’t win races strength buys you a ticket to the poker table. Then you have to learn how to play poker. Well said and a lot of guys don’t understand that do that’s mine actually.
Trevor Connor 1:09:45
Are you sure everyone’s dumb horse brain comes out
Colby Pearce 1:09:48
with some dumb horse brain gets it out of the coach downsize or whatever forgot about the jar size.
Trevor Connor 1:09:54
I have my moments. So what else What are other ways to save energy?
Colby Pearce 1:09:59
Think like a sprinter, I like that one, I do have some really quick sprinters that I’m coaching right now. And sometimes after remind them, there’s a good chance you’re the fastest guy in this race. So act like it. What does that mean? If you follow someone in a breakaway? Why would you drive the breakaway super hard? Maybe at the most, you’re going to match the contribution of the next string of the guy who’s pulling the hardest at the most, why would you pull harder, and sometimes they’d really have to think about that you’re the fastest guy there. Don’t burn yourself out driving a breakaway to to the line when if you’d stayed in the field, you probably would have won anywhere, there’s a good chance to be top three anyway, again, it goes back to if you’re in the wind, it’s gonna directly affect your chances of either winning or doing better, or your teammates. So when you think like a sprinter, even if you’re not it can be useful exercise. Because sprinters in the classic broad brush sense are afraid to hit the when they don’t need to. Why? Because when it comes together at the line, they’re going to win. So it can be useful exercise to think like that at times and conserve, conserve, conserve.
Trevor Connor 1:10:55
I think I’ve told this story on this show before but I absolutely love this story. And it was back I think in the 90s. And it was a race where to pass national champions ended up in a breakaway together. One was just big threshold engine breakaway guy. Another guy was pure sprinter, a really good sprinter. And the sprinter sat on the breakaway rider for like an hour would not pull through to the point that the breakaway rider just got really upset and finally just slows down turns around and goes, are you gonna take a poll? The sprinter just calmly rides up alongside and goes, look, you have a choice. I’m not going to take a poll. So we can go back to the field. Where I’m going to I get to sit in and I’m going to win and you’re going to get 20th Yep. Or you can told me the line where I’m still gonna win. But can you get over? Yeah. And apparently the the breakaway guy thought about it for one. So it was great. Yeah. told him to the line and took silver. Yeah.
Colby Pearce 1:11:51
Sometimes that’s your choice.
Trevor Connor 1:11:52
I’ve been in that situation many times. But that’s also an example of a guy who just went, why would I waste any energy? Yeah, yeah, it was cold. It was it was mean.
I guess it worked. That’s
Trevor Connor 1:12:04
that’s one of those things, too. That’s not quite right. But yeah,
Colby Pearce 1:12:07
cold and meaner. There. It was honest. It was truthful. Yeah, I can appreciate that better than Oh, I’m not going to spreadsheet and then Sunday wine comes in. All right. All right.
Chris Case 1:12:15
Yeah, you know, that’s something that comes with experience too, is knowing that you can play that card that you can play that game like, hey, look, here’s the logic. This is why I’m doing what I’m doing. And you can accept it or you cannot you can get frustrated with me. But this is this is how it’s gonna play out. Not everybody has the confidence as a bike racer to do that all the time. They might just be like, Oh, I’m sorry. Or you know, okay, I’ll,
Colby Pearce 1:12:37
that brings up a great point. There are times when you can be in a breakaway and other riders can go you into working harder than you’ll be working Hmm. And this guy, I always come back to the same concept here, which is look, everybody pin on a number everybody signed a waiver. This is a competitive bike race. We all have a handshake agreement that we’re trying to beat each other to the line, right? It’s your choice if you want to sit on a breakaway because you’re smoked or hanging on for dear life. And then you come to life at the finish. That’s fair game like people may call you a jerk in my code book of ethics, bike racing, whatever. The only reason you’re a jerk is if you outright lie to someone if you tell them I am not going to sprint you and
Chris Case 1:13:16
them yeah, that’s unethical, so to speak. You’re done. Yeah, you’re glad.
Colby Pearce 1:13:21
But other than that, if the person if you make no verbal agreement, if you’re if it’s not clear what your intentions are, if they’re dumb enough to tell you the line, you should be smart enough to out sprint them that was their choice, but also it is your it should be your conscious choice how much you decide to contribute to any given break away at any given moment. If you want to barely spit through and someone else wants to destroy themselves and prove how strong they are. Right? let them play. Let them it’s not a fitness contest. It’s a bike race.
Trevor Connor 1:13:45
Yeah. call those guys booster rockets.
Colby Pearce 1:13:47
Right. That’s your advantage? Yeah. The way to play that if you want to be a bit tactically clever is to do just enough to pacify that. That big dumb, what was our analogy? Like, you know, Moore’s big dumb horse and let him think that he’s gonna smash the race single handedly and rip you off his wheel on a flat road, even though he’s not. Or she’s not and just let her do her thing. And then you’re sitting up there just spitting through just doing enough to pacify them. And then you get one and you? Yep, you get to win a bike race. And there’s nothing immoral or unethical about that. It’s a bike race. People who conserve energy win races, a lot of especially lower ranked amateur riders at any with a broad brush, again, tend to have a preconception. Even a lot of ones and twos have a conception that you don’t have the the right, or you haven’t earned the right to win a race unless you’re the strongest. And I’m here to tell you that’s about crap. That’s not what bike racing is about. As Trevor said, strength gets you to the poker table, then you get to play your cards. But you can’t you can’t win the game for not sitting at the table. And you also can’t win the game if you suck at poker. Yeah, right. Yeah.
Chris Case 1:14:47
I think in terms of professionals that I think of when you as we discussed this, I think of someone like Valverde often gets the reputation of a guy that is a wheel sucker, but look at his career is pomares he’s one A ton and because it’s he’s used his intelligence, he’s used these tactics that are available to him to do what he does, which is win bike race
Trevor Connor 1:15:09
smart bike racer. The flip side of this, he brought up a really good point, a great way to waste energy is to get caught up in the mind games. Yep, people are gonna try to bully you, they’re gonna insult you. They’re gonna do all sorts of things to try to get you to do stupid moves. I still remember Mount Hood. 2011, we had the we had Chad in the leaders jersey. So my job was a cover moves. And I got in this breakaway of about 15 riders. And they’re all screaming at me to take polls and said, I’m not going to help you beat my teammates. Why would I take a poll? Right? They were calling me every name in the book, they were chopping my meal. My favorite one is this guy chops my wheel and then goes, they rate people like you in prison.
Chris Case 1:15:47
Yeah, some people already aggressive. And they also speaking of when you’re moving up through the ranks, if you’re the new guy in the field, and it’s a local race, and they’ll take advantage, they’re your fresh meat, they’ll they’ll try to take advantage of the fact that you’re a little bit greener or something like that, and try to goad you into doing things you shouldn’t do. And so you have to be wary of that have a little discretion.
Trevor Connor 1:16:07
Yeah. So it’s exactly like you said, Don’t say you’re going to do something and not do it. Right, then they have the right to be upset with but
Colby Pearce 1:16:13
you probably did the best job you could on that detour. Because you you were barely doing anything, You’re upsetting the continuity that break. Right? And if you had quite right, so obviously all that anger in that breakaway, that’s not going to make a constructive move. People are too focused on you too worried about you, rather than which isn’t what they should have been focused on. Mm hmm. And it’s funny how that works. Because the psychology of a breakaway can be very dictated by one rider one guy starts yelling at you, and then the other guys all of a sudden are paying attention you’re sitting on why is this guy getting a free ride? You know, right? None of them are smart enough to figure out you’re on the same jerseys leader. Okay, that’s fine. At that point, you have two choices, you can explain it to them, which may or may not pacify them. But your goal isn’t to pacify them. Your goal is to disrupt the breakaway.
Trevor Connor 1:16:53
That matters. Half of them knew what I was doing and it was the right thing. They just wanted to see if they could get to work. Yeah, if they can bully me anyway. Yeah. So don’t Don’t fall for those don’t waste a ton of energy because somebody called you a name right? Go wait, wait till the parking lot afterwards. Go shake hands off and have a beer and yeah, it’s usually
Colby Pearce 1:17:12
pretty cool. Hey, man, I don’t know if you knew this, but my guy was winning the race. And now he’s still in the jersey. So
Chris Case 1:17:17
yeah. Shall we tell some stories about when to spend energy, those critical moments in a race when you don’t hold back?
Trevor Connor 1:17:27
So I will start it off as the pure Domestique. If you have a guy in the leader’s jersey, as we were just talking about, and I will say I didn’t do much work in that breakaway, but part of it was because I knew as soon as we were getting caught, I was getting the rest of the race on the front. Right. And I was spending I spent 20 k chasing down zero. That was the worst 20 k life. Yeah, yeah, if you’re a Domestique Your job is to waste energy until you’re dead. Yeah, but that’s your job.
Colby Pearce 1:17:54
Yep, yep. Or to be one of my favorite games is to play the welder. If you have a feisty peloton early in the race, and you’ve got the leader jersey, you have someone who’s placed on GC or you have a rider that you want to be in a certain breakaway, this is a very effective way to use energy is when your rider is not in any breakaway, you weld the field together, which means you jump just hard enough so that you’re sure everyone’s on your wheel. And then as soon as you get up to speed, you just go warm and close the gap and welded together. And then you watch and the next breakaway goes. And if you guys not that you weld again. And if the next guy, your guy’s not the next one, you weld again, and then the next break your guy goes. And then you kind of just hang out in the gutter and let people do their thing and chase and hopefully the gap goes and then if it gets caught, you start welding again, reset. That’s a great way to constructively use your energy to help your teammates set up the right breakaway. Or maybe if you’re if your team is leading a category, like a KLM. For example, you want to make sure your guys in the break to go get more kalen points yet example them or you want your sprinter together to break example. Or if you have the leader and you’d say, you know, common tactic before the night before the race would be, we’re gonna allow these GC guys to go off the road but not these three. So you’re just watching and you weld it back together. That’s a great time to do it. Another time is going into a technical section like Chris was talking about. It’s not the worst idea in the world to ramp the field up a bit or use a bit of energy when you’re heading into that dirt section should actually cane or badly or the base of a climb. Using energy moving up there is smart because it’s going to benefit you and a crosswind. In my opinion a strong crosswind especially if you know that peloton knows what they’re doing and they’re going to use it correctly. You literally cannot use too much energy to be in the top eight. Sure, like you might as well treat it like the finish line. Because that’s what it is. I’ve seen races below absolutely to smithereens and crosswind or even had 200 runner peloton in a groups. And it can be the difference in making the first group or the second group. And it’s literally a sprint in that first 500 meters across when everybody talks about that much climbs hurt. I will still say the most painful thing and bike racing is being gutted at across what there is nothing to be more painful. You’re shaking your head. Well, you’ve done the our record on the arrow. So even a 12 writer group with me in the gutter is less painful than me being on some great hour.
Trevor Connor 1:20:12
That’s fair. I’m I like the climbs. Yeah, that’s your I’m a little happier. So I don’t like that being guttered yet, but I will say it’s a good thing to practice if you have a weekly group ride. And he hasn’t crosswind be mean to one another Godot on another good old practice.
Colby Pearce 1:20:26
Yeah. Agreed. Within context. Of course, you can’t use a whole lane if you’ve got these things called cars. Yeah, so the roads are actually made for
Trevor Connor 1:20:35
Be careful of that. But you are bringing up another point that that’s a big one for me, which is, every race has two or three points that are do or die moments. Yeah, you either need to be there or your race is over. And it kills me when I talk with athletes after the race. And they go, well got really hard. And that was a critical moment in the race. But I looked down and I was above my five minute power, right? I held back he’s go screw. Why? Because
Colby Pearce 1:21:02
you’re out of the race. That’s a great example of using a metric as the absolute instead of as what it is, which is a proxy, right data is for post race analysis, it’s for post mortem analysis, you look back and see, this is what I did, right? This is what I did wrong. This is the time zones I spent that helps me It gives me an idea of how hard the race was. So I have to know if my training is actually training me well enough to be ready for a race like this. Or you know, etc. But yeah, it’s a great example of using the metrics in the wrong quote wrong in a suboptimal way, I’ll say, I’m wrong. Yeah. But you could you could use the more effectively,
Trevor Connor 1:21:34
but those are black and white moments in the race where it’s either you are there or you’re wearing silver, you know,
Colby Pearce 1:21:39
you give it everything. You follow that guy’s wheel, and you pull, he literally give yourself a root canal to follow his wheel until you get across to the breakaway. And then you hang on for dear life or kilometer until you’re barely recovered enough to start pulling. And then you pull as hard as you can every single pole from there to the line. And that’s how the brake makes it. It’s a very common race experience. And it’s miserable while you’re doing it. Racing isn’t fun. until after you’ve crossed the line. And then you go, Man, that was so awesome. We went 40 miles an hour in that corner, and we’re going so hard on a flat road, but while you’re doing it, it sucks. Yes, that’s how racing works.
Trevor Connor 1:22:11
Well, there’s no great story of swaying tough. I think it was Pittsburgh. This was before he had gone Pro. It was right before he signed with Saturn quite literally, because he got in the breakaway and he was a little heavier at the time and not as strong as he is now and he was dying. And the story goes at one point he took his poll move to the right to let the next guy through leaned over threw up didn’t Yeah, there are two Saturn guys in the breakaway. They went back to their team manager and said this guy’s the guy’s a little chunky and he you know, he’s been a little stronger, but you can’t teach that. So they signed up. Nice.
Colby Pearce 1:22:47
And then he’s a legend. Yep, that was probably the road to training camp.
Trevor Connor 1:22:51
He had many of those years. Yeah. With the trailer with his dog in the back. I guess. We got to do an episode of Swain stories get him on? Absolutely. They’d love to. Yeah. Sleeping on the side of the road. And yeah, during a bear things like that. Do you
Chris Case 1:23:03
think those two Canadians versus me? I get picked on at all or do you think see, oh, he would snap. Well, if he was physically in the room, yes, he would probably just go.
Trevor Connor 1:23:15
I have always said I can’t tell you how many times writers have said to me in the peloton. I will see you in the parking lot. And I’m like, tell me where I’ll be there. Yeah, if Swain said to me, I will see you in the parking lot. I’m pulling out the race and I’m getting the heck out of
you. I’ll see you there. Bye. Pretty pacifist,
like meditates in the woods before doing what
Trevor Connor 1:23:33
he does in the winter. We actually competes in Ultimate Fighting mixed martial arts. Yeah. This tea was passed to them because he showed up to the march training camp on you with a broken arm
Colby Pearce 1:23:44
that’s understandable. But he probably responded well both my legs work
Trevor Connor 1:23:48
Yeah, let’s go Yeah, okay, that’s not saving energy at all.
Chris Case 1:23:52
No. Nope. What earning energy What are other ways to spend energy my favorite and I think a lot of people’s favorite is probably when they see blood in the water it’s time to go hurt people you know if you notice that somebody is struggling if you see those signs and you feel it’s attack attack Go for it.
Trevor Connor 1:24:11
So every time you and I go up a claim you pretty much
Chris Case 1:24:16
actually whenever I don’t even have to see the sides with you. That you’re struggling I just want to do it. Just like daggers
Trevor Connor 1:24:24
was like I gave him a little bit of a layup to put me down and boy did you don’t have to do a dance
Chris Case 1:24:31
pretty much anybody on a client. This is what this is my one thing drink.
Trevor Connor 1:24:37
How do you do a poopoo boy or whatever his name is poopoo boy, booboo, cough.
Oh, that’s Laughlin. That’s it. That’s
Colby Pearce 1:24:45
a straw handle. We just gave it away.
Chris Case 1:24:47
He doesn’t go by that anymore.
Trevor Connor 1:24:48
We give that away.
Chris Case 1:24:49
He had two accounts. One he would call himself pooper cough which is a rap rappers name I believe and then something else and but now he actually has a struggle account
that is a real handle.
Chris Case 1:24:59
He does. Yeah. Anyways, not saving energy there either.
Trevor Connor 1:25:04
Then the obvious one, you see the finish line?
Yeah. See the finish line?
Don’t save it.
Colby Pearce 1:25:10
Yeah, at that point of time draw, especially a short one. Yeah. I mean, obviously, that’s oversimplified. You’ve got pacing to consider, but it’s the opposite of what we’re talking about in general, which is use expend your energy as effectively as you can over the course so that your battery is completely empty by the end zero.
Trevor Connor 1:25:27
Yeah. One thing I do see with people time traveling, you can speak more of this than than me is I see them over paced themselves, meaning they’re too concerned about blowing up. And so they go at a pace that they know they can do to the finish line. I always tell my athletes, if you’re going to pace where you ask yourself, can I hold this to the end? And you go, Oh, I don’t know. That’s gonna be tough. Yeah,
Colby Pearce 1:25:49
that’s the right pace might take away from that as you should hit one key to go and think, okay, I’m either going to maintain this lossy to the line or pass out. I’m not sure which, yeah, and you paste it pretty well. last case should be absolutely hanging on for dear life, on flat course, or evenly paced course that is, yep.
Any others guys?
Chris Case 1:26:07
I think like Kobe said right at the very beginning of the show, the breakaway is a sprint stage in reverse for those great great riders you want to attack? If you know it’s the one, you want to make it the one it’s attack as hard as possible to establish that break. That’s your sprint at the end of the day. Yeah. Yeah,
Colby Pearce 1:26:26
that can be it can be appropriate. Again, it comes down to the wasp nest effect to the field, how whipped up already? Is there times like you’re saying 1200 watts and go nowhere, right. And there are other times where you can just go route. And also you kind of hit a gap? Sure. So you got to be clever about that. But agreed. If you’re if your objective is to really make the race happen at a certain point, you’re competent you can happen then throw down three chips in the in the on the table and see what happens. One of the biggest mistakes, I see people making the breakway is not spending enough energy. And often if you want to try to get in the break, what you’re gonna have to go with a few. But if you’re in that break, wherever you think this one’s got a chance, you have to approach it as if we get caught my day is done. Right? That’s a good way to look at it. Yeah,
Chris Case 1:27:05
there’s no holding back thinking like, oh, we’re going to get caught. And then I’m going to do something again. It’s right. This is
Trevor Connor 1:27:10
- This is my move. I’m giving this everything I’ve got we get caught? I’m finished. Yeah,
Colby Pearce 1:27:15
that’s it, I will add their syntactical nuance to that, which goes back to my comment about contributing to a breakaway, you should always think about your contribution to the breakaway, in terms of what are the other riders doing? Am I doing 10% more than the next strongest rider or the next most contributing writers really, strength is not irrelevant. But in terms of your own contribution, you look at it as how much is everyone else contributing? And and it’s not speed? It’s not even time? It’s it’s you feel it? Right accelerating? And are they pulling long and hard?
Trevor Connor 1:27:43
But there? Are there stages of that? Yes. When you are asserting a breakaway,
Colby Pearce 1:27:48
you got to drive it to make sure that gap is established.
Trevor Connor 1:27:51
I hate when I hear about guys going oh, we had five of us. We were starting to get a gap on the field. But there was one guy sitting on Yeah, let him sit on established a break, then.
Colby Pearce 1:28:01
Yeah, then discuss. So once the break is established, then you’ve got more that. Okay, let’s analyze this a bit. How hard should I be pulling contributed to the other guys, that depends on a lot of factors. If this is the first time you’ve ever been in a breakaway, or ever had a chance to get a top five, then it’s would be perfectly reasonable to say I’m going to obliterate myself in this thing, because I just really want to be top five, even if all of the four riders drop me at the end, and I get fifth, I’m going to be super psyched because the best result I’ve ever had. Okay, that’s a big step for for you understood. But you do that a few times. And you go Okay, now I want to be a little more clever. I want to be top three, it’s not good enough for me to be the last guy cross line in seven in between anymore. I’m going to start comparing my effort to the other efforts and contributions of the other riders in the breakaway. And then you do that enough. And then you say, All right now I’ve got the hunger man, I want to win a bike race. And then you can be more selective about your races. And you can say, does this constitution of this breakaway really suit me, I’ve got this super strong dude in here, and this amazing sprinter in this break. You know what, I don’t like this, this sucks, right? I’m gonna kill it and you sit on, even though the break is established, even though those guys are all working hard. That’s your choice. And then your Win win either way, because if you kill it, and they all get frustrated, you come back to the pack, you have reset your opportunity to do something else. Maybe you counter when they get frustrated. Or maybe you kind of when you get back to the group you follow. Another tactic happens all the time. Or conversely, you you stay out in a break and those guys drive to the line and they curse you and call you bad names the whole time but you never tell them the gigs up and then you’ve got a much more fair chance to beat that sprinter to the line. Because they all work and you didn’t that’s okay.
Trevor Connor 1:29:33
I am a breakaway rider and one of the things I love the most about breakaways is
you don’t i don’t rent? Well, yes,
Trevor Connor 1:29:41
I do like that element of it. But here’s the fact about breakaway said you always have to deal with as a breakaway rider. I don’t care who’s in the breakaway. If the field wants to catch you, they will catch you. So the art of break in a way is figuring out how to do it in a way that convinced the field to let you win. Really, I think we’re breakaways You’re still sprinting, you’re just putting this brand new beginning here. There’s another way to look at it. But I remember being Mount Hood 2007 the first road stage, we had a breakaway of about 20 riders that God’s good. I think it was about 1415 minutes up the road and Health Net got on the front. brought it back. They want to they’ll do it. Yeah, the field wants to they can bring the bring it back percent of the time. Yeah, I
Colby Pearce 1:30:24
mean, there’s some course variability in that. If you get a good climber in a break, and they get a gap. the peloton there may not be that much they can do it all depends on the relative strength of riders. But yes, john, I agree for most courses. That’s true. It’s about breaking down the will of the other riders.
Trevor Connor 1:30:40
Continuing with that, you just remind me of something. If you are going with a breakaway, it’s rarely the first attack or the first break. Why is one succeed? It’s usually a counter off of a shorter lead breakaway. Yeah. So if you’re one of those breakaways, that’s not going to succeed. Don’t keep your head down until the field catches you, that’s when you ease up, find your energy knowing there’s a counter move, and I’m going to move over and jump on that and that can be the winning move. Like it’s like reading Warren Piece, there’s
Colby Pearce 1:31:05
always another chapter. Yeah, write it or it goes back to that analogy used earlier about how there’s a line you don’t really cross there’s a line in terms of season efforts or daily efforts but there’s also a line within races and you probably have one really really deep race where you’re going to use that for deep effort during a race where you’re going to use that are you saving it for the finish? Or are you saving it for five K to go on that little roller where you’re gonna drop the breakaway or you make are using it in the beginning to barely make the breakaway and then you use it up and Okay, now we see what happens from there.
Trevor Connor 1:31:36
Continue with that when you go to the the post mortem analyze your power. Yes, you have a really good race, you might see hey, I just PR to five minute power for this year, but you never analyze a race ago. Hey, I just powered by five minute power five times in that race,
Trevor Connor 1:31:51
you get a once. Yeah,
Colby Pearce 1:31:52
pick your moment. And the only contribution I would have would be in a longer race, a stage race. You really want to pick your stages carefully copying Yeah,
Chris Case 1:31:59
already, you’ve done this many times before. 60 seconds to give us all your takeaways from this episode on the energy game. Trevor? Well, big dumb horse. Oh, you just stole
Trevor Connor 1:32:12
that, for me. It’s about to say, says my big dumb horse brain only gets a moment about every 20 episodes, I’m gonna be completely vain and make my my one minute my moment. Strength buys you a ticket to the poker table. But you got to learn how to play poker. That means when you’re in a race, observe, see what’s going on with the field. Watch what other riders do start figuring out when it’s effective when it’s not effective. play these games like go to the training race and figure out how do I average the lowest power possible and still finish with the lead group or keep the heart rate down, start experimenting, practicing all these things. So you can really learn that when you expand energy. When you take that jar and you turn it over a bit. You’re having an impact. Chris,
Chris Case 1:33:01
I think I’ll use my dumb self as the example this time and talk about patience, because I have very little of it in certain situations and certain types of races. And I think that can often play against you and will is a detriment to your success at races. So just finding ways to be patient. And that goes to some of the things you just mentioned. If it’s playing games with yourself trying to bring your average power down or trying to float through and find ways to conserve energy in in your position. It’s doing these things to remain patient be quote, bored as long as possible, if necessary, because that is going to increase your chances of doing well. Coby you found a new flow state, you’ve got 60 seconds. Please take it away. Give us your takeaway.
Colby Pearce 1:33:54
Well, you stole my word, their flow state I think that’s what it’s about is ultimately as a racer within the context of tactics, the demands of the event, whether your fitness your own abilities, knowing yourself as a writer, you have to try to achieve a flow state in any race and that means you’re going to blend intellectual perspective with your own intuitive side, what you feel what you feel the peloton is doing what the right moment to act is. And the way to find flow state is to be in a relaxed mindset going into the race, be confident, be prepared, and then also to treat each decision you make in the peloton as like a binary equation, a one or a zero or one being a positive choice and a zero being a negative choice. And when you’re in a flow state when you’re intuitive and when you’re since sensing what’s happening in the peloton, you’re using the metrics you have at your disposal, heart rate and power distance time to help you formulate and add to that intuition and make those binary choices. And that equation is ultimately results in your performance on the day either individually or How you help your team after the race is the time for post mortem analysis and looking at the data and understanding did I effectively achieve a flow state? And did I actually utilize that system of ones and zeros to the best possible impact? Did I manage my energy correctly? Or did I use it at the wrong moment? That’s what the deal is for afterwards.
Chris Case 1:35:19
It’s really interesting that you ended with a piece on binary system kind of robotic type mentality whereas we started this conversation talking about Trevor’s robot that actually tried to escape from his suicidal robot. So we’ve come full circle, so I had my moment of this episode. Chris, that was not your moment. That was another episode of bass talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at fast dog Advil news.com. Subscribe to fast doc on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of Fast Talk on email@example.com slash news and on firstname.lastname@example.org slash news, Fast Talk is a joint production between velonews and current coaching thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Colin Pierce, Sep coos Bruce Byrd, Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.