Nothing too scientific about working hard and getting a good sweat on as an athlete! I love to train with structure but sometimes the unexpected can do more for making physical adaptations than the best-designed workout using a power meter. Enter the hammer fest!
Call it the Tuesday Night Worlds, Wednesday Hammer Fest or the Thursday night Throw Down and you have a recipe for fun and serious training. So how can athletes benefit from these harder and usually technical club rides?
These rides can help a cyclist learn if he or she is ready to race. While they can be tested in a lab on an ergometer I have found a race simulation can be far more telling. By being able to hang on to attack after attack or working on the front of a pace line heading into strong headwind and getting dropped into no man’s land will test the fitness, attitudes and mental toughness of new cyclists that want to race.
New racers can also benefit from these weeknight race simulations to build on fitness, develop bike-handling skills and continue to learn how to read a race. Reading a race can become one of the most valuable tools a mass start racer can have in their toolbox. Watching experienced riders and how they attack, answer attacks, sit in and sprint. It’s not always the strongest who wins at mass start races sometimes it’s the smartest!
Experienced racers also know that the week night throw down rides are a place to test fitness and even try out new tactics prior to trying them in sanctioned races. This atmosphere of weeknight race simulation usually has a much more laid back air to it with lots of fun smack talk and mind games.
So how does one go about finding such a ride? Contact your local club, club team or form your own. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a club or a team to work with then you can develop your own. You should ideally have 4 or more riders to work with as just having 2 riders you just won’t have the same benefits. You also must know the routes you are going to ride on and understand where any hazards may be lurking. Use common sense and do not do the following ever!!!!!
- Sprint into a blind corner
- Sprint on highly trafficked roads
- Sprint/ride through traffic lights or stop signs
- Sprint up a blind hill in the middle of the road
- Cross the center of the road into on coming traffic
- Sprint through neighborhoods where there are children at play
There are also some tips that new and experienced Hammer Fest riders should employee in their rides.
- Know the rules of the ride captain/club
- Point out/Call out any and all hazards
- Know what you are sprinting to
- Don’t be a jerk! Keep inflammatory remarks to your self
- Be prepared to fix your own flat tires
- Know the course in case you get dropped
- Do not show up with a bike that needs repairs or tuning
- Bring food and water and be prepared to eat while riding
What can you do start your own Week Night Worlds ride?
- Tell your cycling buddies that you are doing it
- Schedule the ride and post a map of the course
- Let everyone know where the sprints will be
- County line signs
- For sale signs
- Odd-looking trees
- Other know landmarks
- Set rules of how long to warm up
- How long you can stay at the front of the pace line
- Where the group may wait for riders who fell off pace
- Set rules for how many attacks you must put in or can put it
- Have fun but keep rules simple
Just remember that these are not races even though we treat them as such. There will be no ambulance waiting for you at staging so PLEASE be careful. Follow your local traffic laws and do not be a nuisance to your neighbors who do not share your enthusiasm for the sport of competitive cycling!
Until next time,
Train Smarter Not Harder