Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bikefucious: A Flat Is Good Team Training

Bad Bikefucius Rendering
PSSssss!  I heard it, looked back from my drops and saw it was my teammate Mark.  “Flat!”  I shouted over the buzz of 30 hubs on Binning, a one-lane beat-up twisting flat farm road famous for chewing up tubes.  It was a pinch flat for sure.  I held up a hand, moved left and eased up to help.  A third teammate, Kris stopped too.  As I look back on the flat, it’d be a great team drill, perfect for a budding team of juniors or a group of mismatched hammer headed masters alike. 

Try this team drill on for size.  Put a cable cutter in your jersey pocket.  At a rest stop with an hour back to civilization, split the team ride into two evenly matched groups.  Tell the 1st bunch they’ll get a 30 second lead and send them out.  Then immediately turn to the 2nd group, snip the valve stem off the fastest person’s front wheel and shout, “Go!” 

Actual Flat Tire Fix
We laid the bikes at the edge of the farm field and tag teamed the flat.  Mark stripped the old tube out.  Kris unraveled the fresh rubber.  Like a 14 year old junior, I man-stared across the field.  Just like Belgium, for every one mile of road, two miles of ditches.  In a few months we won’t be able to see above the corn.  Mark woke me out of my day dream, tossed me the old tube to roll up and began dressing the new one.  Diagnosing it as a pinch flat and not debris saved us time.  Kris aired it up as I stuffed the old tube in Mark’s saddle bag.  We were off in a respectable 3-4 minutes. 

Cincinnati's Binning Road Rendering
Changing a flat quickly is half the battle.  Now you need to try and close a 3-4 minute gap in an hour.  Not that blazing group rides aren’t fun, but I love me some good team paceline and the challenge of the chase.  The strongest rider pulls longer not harder.  Hands on the drops, backs flat, we traded even pulls the whole way back.  Elbows flicked and the momentum flowed forward.  No one got gapped off crossing the railroad tracks.  Instead of fighting for air in pursuit of a KOM, we gauged each other’s efforts and kept the group together up the last climb.  As we crested, we could make out a rider turning left ¾ of a mile down the road, almost there, but not quite.

Ten minutes later, we turned the corner into the shop lot.  The other guys still hadn’t taken off their helmets.  They must have just stopped, and were sitting on their top tubes chatting.  While we didn’t close it down completely, we probably weren’t more than 1-2 minutes off the pace.  When you look at it upside down, if the flat cost us 4 minutes, we still took 2 minutes back from the fastest guys in town. 

Bikefucious say: only when you fall back can you move forward.  Teach a team to close a gap and you’ll give a team confidence to bust a breakaway.

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