The heavenly feeling
Have you ever had some of those days on the bike? You know the feeling, no pain in the legs. Your breathing smooth as silk! And the best feeling of all, your legs feel like they are pedaling on their own with no effort from yourself.
When you had those days did you plan them or were they out of the blue? Did you understand why you got those days and were you able to replicate them again for important races?
My own experience
Two particular periods stand out for me. One is when I was a junior Cyclist many moons ago. There used to be this week of racing called the Dunlaoire week.
It was made up of Road races and two individual Time trials. I was in the top 6 in the 25 miles Chemico Cup TT the very best senior riders of the day were racing. I also went under the hour for the race which was probably an exceptional thing for a Junior cyclist to do back then.
then later in the Week I was in the top placings in a 10 miles TT from Cornelscourt to Enniskerry and back. I have a vivid memory of catching one cyclist for 4 minutes. So as cyclists are inclined to say I was Flying!
My second accidental Peaking experience was for the last tour of Ireland that I rode 1973. I won a stage from Carrick on suir through Wexford and finish in Arklow. I was also was placed on other stages and was going really well after a few days.
The how and why
I never thought about them too much until I began to Study coaching and particularly when I studied periodisation of training by the great Russian Sports scientists.
Periodisation of training is the organisation of training into various periods of training. Each Period focuses on various elements of training. Manipulation of the amount and intensity of training is designed to produce best performances in most important competitions.
Eureka Moments Periodisation of training
As I studied periodisation of training I had the eureka moment. It jumped out at me that the really strong performances during the Dunlaoire week when I was a Junior and the last Tour of Ireland I rode were achieved by perfect peaking strategies. Even though the strategies were purely accidental and circumstantial at the time of the performances.
Explanation Dunlaoire week
That year was 1965 there was a big strike, industrial gases were unavailable and the place I worked in closed down for a couple of months during the late spring.
Training cycling to Sally gap and intervals
Hallaluia! 17 years of age and all day to cycle.. I lived in inner city Dublin at the time and about 3 times midweek it was out on the bike Tallaght Embankment and Manor Kibride Sally Gap Enniskerry and home. Sections of that would have included intervals of 4 to 5 minutes fast, and sprints .
I got about two months of this training and wasn’t particularly flying while doing it. However about two weeks before the Dunlaoire week the strike was over and work returned.
So midweek training went from the big sessions over Sally gap to shorter cycles midweek and midweek races.
Explanation last Tour of Ireland
By this stage I was married, with a son and a daughter on the way. I was also cycling a heavy post office bike around for hours in work. Life was, work bed cycling. Then it got to the point a couple of weeks before the Tour of Ireland that I had to work extra hours overtime to get enough money to live. this seriously curtailed my midweek time for training.
So during these last few weeks before the Tour of Ireland my midweek training consisted of 2 to 3 x 45 -60 minute sessions of flat out interval training. One session long intervals of 3 to five minutes flat out, very painful efforts, with good recovery between efforts.
Another session was on a very short crit like course where I went very fast on restricted gears for multiple efforts.
There was also a number of weekend races and long easy cycles on Saturday with the late Steve Flynn, a great man to train with.
The accidental Taper
So back to Studying the Russians periodisation plans. When studying these I realised that I had followed a perfect periodisation plan unknown to myself for both of the previous performances mentioned.
I had been forced to reduce my training before the big events on both occasions by circumstances rather than planning. But it certainly worked.
since then I have learned to manipulate all the various elements to produce peak performances for many cyclists that I have coached for many race wins. But most cyclists probably have had similar experiences to myself with experiencing the big performances that seem to appear from nowhere.
What was your own accidental peaking experiences?
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