Saturday, October 13, 2007

Action Figures

A member of the local riding group just competed in his first mass-start race. With a body builder's massive chest and arms, he's not built like a bike racer, but he has a lot of heart, both figuratively and physically.

The local group rides are the typical collection of town-line sprints, conversational stretches and half-breathless jams that don't build real racing strength. An inexperienced rider can come out of this and his own collection of solo hammerfests thinking he has trained. If the first race doesn't shatter this illusion, the one after it certainly will. The small group can't provide important shoulder-to-shoulder cornering experience, either.

As we talked about his performance, I laid out a basic training schedule with its rhythmic changes of intensity. I suggested practice methods for cornering, just simple ways to get more out of the riding he's already doing. It doesn't need to be painfully scientific. He just wants to get more out of the races at his level. A family man in his 30s, he's not looking to have a career. This is especially true if he's going to retain that huge torso and his brawny arms.

I don't want to race anymore, but I really enjoyed being able to pass on what I learned to someone who will get some use out of it. As I did so, I realized how coaching is like playing with action figures.

"Here, do this. Now do this." Look at him go!

At the really ambitious levels it gets really complicated, scientifically and morally. But down here near the bottom it's just for fun. I can't wait to hear whether he did any of what I said, and how it worked.

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