How to Train with a Pro and Live to Tell About it
Everyone enjoys the opportunity to ride with a professional bike racer! What an experience to ride next to one of these guys (or gals) and ask questions and get advice. The problem is most riders are absolutely scared to death when the opportunity arises. Here’s how to make the experience easier and keep you from looking like a blubbering idiot next time you bump into a pro on a ride…
1. You’re out in a group, riding side by side and it’s your turn next to the pro and it’s time to hit the front. Here is the perfect opportunity to ask them questions that require long, drawn out, answers. The trick is to make them talk and talk and talk, which in turn will result in a speed decrease of about 2 mph. For example, “tell me about your best victory this year and how the tactics you used”. This one should last a long time. If they play the domestique roll, focus on how they helped their team mate win.
2. While they are detailing the victories, nod your head in agreement, with an occasional “WOW!”, while always thinking of the next topic. You never know when something will interrupt the conversation and you’ll need to fire up another topic. Remember; always ask open-ended questions (never ask “yes or no” questions) and it’s best to ask these questions strategically as you approach the bigger climbs of the day.
3. When you stop for drinks, be nice and buy them a super duper x-large soda without caffeine (or something similar like Gatorade). That way, when they start riding again, it will be slushing around in their stomachs like a washing machine, resulting again in the desired slower pace, at least for the first 20 minutes or so.
4. Ask them to demonstrate how they do things like climbing, descending and cornering. That way they go into “teacher/coach” mode, and you might even learn something as well.
5. Always keep the group tight and keep the pace moving. You don’t always have to pull as hard as they do, just don’t let the pace drop or increase dramatically. This is actually a serious one, since you don’t want the group flicking you for riding like a junior.
6. When you first see them, tell them they look thin – “Hey, you look very lean and fit, your season must be going well”. Nothing more a pro likes to hear more than they look skinny.
7. Try to never train with a pro alone. It is much better to have other riders, so you can sit on most of the time and be able to recover.
8. And finally, there are always the basics – “How is the family? how are the kids?” This one is always good as a backup plan!
9. Remember – stay cool but not too cool – let’s face it, showing someone you’re excited to meet or speak to them usually works in your favor.
10. And finally, speak slowly and enunciate each word – nothing will end your chat faster than sounding like a marshmallow-mouthed mumbler.
The bottom line is that most of the pros you ride with are awesome individuals who really don’t want to beat up on you, but just enjoy the ride for what it’s worth. Cycling is a great sport in that riding offers plenty of time to talk to other cyclists while at the same time taking part in the sport itself! Enjoy that ride!!
Bruce Hendler created AthletiCamps to provide cycling specific coaching and training to athletes and cyclists of all levels. Find out more at www.athleticamps.com.