As I am writing this article
As I am writing
this article, it is snowing outside. I
am on the train and my mind takes me to the cyclists who are training in this
same weather in order to lay the foundations for there season of racing.
Well, not everyone is training in bad weather, some go to Qatar,
Langkwani or Australia for example to escape from the horrible winterss.
Still, everyone needs to train - rain or shine - because results don’t
come like that. It takes a lot of
effort, endurance and courage to go training in winter.
But training is
not just simply going on a ride and doing some miles without any goals, you need
to be very specific how you train and the members of the ABC-Aitos team
(~Cycling Center) can surely let us in on that. The Daily Peloton spoke with 4 riders who where part of
the team last season as well. This
year, in contradiction to last year, they have received a training schedule from
Bernard Moerman (manager of ABC-Aitos, in cooperation with Dr. Dag van Elslande
en coach Corey Hart).
only thing I have been hearing from Bernard from the moment I met him, is that
you need “miles, miles, miles, restdays and more miles” in order to prepare
for races. In contrary to what many
other coaches are announcing – power and short-intensity training rides – he
persists in “miles, miles, miles”. What
is your opinion on this?
Personally, I think you need kilometres, kilometres, kilometres. But you also
need testing, coaching, and experience.
a big believer in the “big miles” training plan.
The UCSD program I was a part of the years before is basically that, and
its resulted in some really amazing riders.
As far as I’m concerned, we didn’t do enough of that during the
season. For me, it improves my
recovery and helps keep weight off.
Pete: The races are no
less than 120km long and can last up to five hours. It is important that you can push the pedals for that long.
However, we do not ignore power and speed work.
also said that pretty much every rider who comes in Europe for the first time is
not prepared. The reason being that
they mostly don’t know what to prepare for. What is your idea about that?
Jed: Damn Skippy. It
takes 3 months to figure out what you’re doing, 3 months to try the new things
you learned, and a winter to stew on all the opportunities you wasted. Hopefully
this will be a completely different year for me.
Matt: In my opinion,
bike racing is bike racing: you have to be strong, fast, and smart, or you’ll
get smoked. I had the best form of
the season when I got there, so physically, I was ok. I’d been doing really hard racing here, not NRC, but pretty
good regional racing. The European
races, especially kermesses, were different in that the players are different,
and there are lots of guys who can win any given day. There isn’t much “pack filler.”
Just knowing how to race there was the hard part for me.
Pete: It’s hard to
convey in words how hard the racing is. It
really is something that you need to experience.
correct. We just didnt know how
hard and long these races really were going to be.
Some guys came over for their first time somewhat prepared, but nobody
was ready to throw down with the big boys.
remember how long it took you last year to be able to actually race instead of
trying to follow the others and how long until you were really at your peak?
In May I felt I was riding well. I had a lot of problems in June and July. I
realized how much I had gained in late August when I was riding horrible and
still racing ok. I got my butt kicked, got faster, got fatter, crashed, got
sick. As Ben Sharp said to me, “Well it looks like you had a typical Belgian
was at peak fitness about two weeks after I came over, and this lasted for about
the first month. I had a huge base
when I got there, but was well-rested, too.
I had my best results fairly soon after I arrived.
Like I said, though, it took quite some time to be able to understand and
read the races properly.
Pete: After a couple of
months of suffering, hanging on and watching what was going on, I became able to
make some moves of my own. First
with Kermesses, then in July and August I was able to pull off some top ten
results in UCI races.
Ben: It took me until
July until I was doing more than just hanging on. And I’d say I hit my peak sometime in August.
I got to Belgium March 2nd.
to the test at the end of the 2002 season and the overall individual results of
the season, the team-doctor Dag van Elslande made the general guide-lines for
you to follow and then the coach filled in your program. Where are the
differences with the preparations you had the years before?
Jed: More kilometres,
more specified training regimes, and more off the bike exercises to promote
stability and strength. And absolutely no cyclocross.
Matt: Our coach cut back
the volume I was used to. Here,
I’d picked the races I wanted to focus on,
and trained through the rest. I’d
managed about 25-30 hours a week and that really worked for me.
In Europe, we had to do a lot of races and so you can’t train so much
because you need to recover, so we did shorter and more intense training during
the season. I feel like I missed
the longer weeks, though.
Pete: Last year I did
way more miles and races than I ever did before. That is partly because it was the first time I raced
enough training. And not enough
variation in my training. Now, we
ride tons of hours and each day has a different objective.
We are never just going out there and riding at the same tempo all day,
it varies. But still, the biggest
difference would have to be the huge increase in volume.
you prepare in the winter and why? What
did you focus on?
Niceville, Florida and Athens, Georgia. After the “summer” in Belgium, I
really needed a true summer, so Florida was great all fall. Athens is a great
little town with a great cycling history and community. The mountains are close
by and the roads out of town are fantastic. It reminds me of the Flemish
Ardennes. I have mostly focused on building aerobic conditioning.
Matt: I stayed in San
Diego. I was finishing up my
masters degree at UCSD in the fall and teaching to make money for this year.
Once that was over in December, I’ve just been trying to improve my
endurance and strength, which are big parts of the program.
Pete: This year Ben and
I will have spent most of the winter in California and Pheonix.
Our focus has been long hours in the saddle and power endurance.
Ben: I lived in Boulder
this fall until Christmas time. That
is where I went to college and that is where all of my friends still live.
So it was good to be “home”. I
got in some good training in November and December.
The weather was sunny, but cold. So,
after X-mas, my team-mate and friend Pete came out to Colorado.
We drove out to California together.
The winter training here is awesome!!!
The weather ranges from 65 to 75 degrees and the terrain is
spectacular!!! And we’ve been
getting in the miles.
already feeling the difference?
Yes, I’ve definitely improved over last year, though I’m having some
problems handling the volume I need to because I didn’t ride much in October
and November because I was so busy. I
think it will work out fine, though. Its
I able to do a five hour ride and push the entire time.
Yes, I feel stronger than ever
entering this season.
guys need to send your trainings results regularly to the team-coach and
team-doctor. Together with Bernard they follow all this very accurately.
It looks pretty professional, but doesn’t it also look a bit like big
brother? Did you find that easy to
Jed: I love training! I
hire Corey to make sure I don’t train too much, otherwise I have a tendency to
ride myself into the ground. I am happy to share with Bernard, Dr. Dag and Corey
everything I do. They only want to help me and they can only do that with
honesty. Until you are victorious, who else will see all the hard work that is
done to get there? I could never thank them enough for all the concern they show
Matt: I think it’s
appropriate to our team’s focus on development. I have friends on pro teams, and basically their directors
don’t care how they get fit, so long as they can do their job.
For our team its different. It
is a bit of a stress for me, as sometimes following the plan to a “T” makes
for boring, grinding training, but it makes you strong, too.
Overall, the Doc and Bernard understand that we live in different areas
and that you-know-what happens, so sometimes we won’t follow the plan exactly.
Pete: Sure, if you want
this to be your profession, you need to treat it like a job and if your doing
your work it should fine that your boss checks what you have done.
Ben: It is not like that
at all. I think he makes it sound a
bit like Big Brother, but really he just wants to see what we are doing.
He wants to be involved and a part of our development that’s all.
almost heading back to Belgium, and that means 2 things: Bernard wanted you back
and you chose to come back a second time. Are
you satisfied with the progress you made with the CC program last year?
Yes, I was satisfied with my progress but also disappointed with the number of
mistakes I made. It would be a tragedy to not give it a go with a better
realization of what the experience is really like.
I was satisfied to have gotten the experience I got, but I was disappointed with
my results. I came over in very
good form after a good season in California, but I made a lot of stupid mistakes
while I had that form. Later, as
fatigue started to build, I gradually lost form and couldn’t take advantage of
the experience I’d gained up to that point.
This year I’m looking forward to having both.
Yes, I would say that last year was a success.
I had better results than expected and was happy that I was able to be
very consistent throughout the entire year.
Yes, I am very satisfied. The
program at Bernard’s caters well to the individual.
Some riders came to Europe more prepared than others, but they all
received equal attention and were all givin personalized training/racing
programs to follow. This allowed every one of us (including myself) to reach new
levels of fitness and racing ablitlity. I
personally did not expect such gains in just one season, but I was surprised.
And now I’m psyched up to return this 2003 season with much higher
think this year will be harder as you will need to be more result-driven?
How do you think you will handle this?
Jed: No. Confidence is
the hardest part for me. I am much more confident than last year and know what
my strengths are, and where I want to race well.
I think it will be easier for me, personally, to accept that we’re there to
get results. Once you decide that,
that you’re going to really race, and everybody’s got a role, there’s a
greater focus and seriousness, and I like that. I’m willing to kill myself for my teammates, so if we have
someone going for the win, then I’m all for that. Likewise, if my teammates are backing me up, I’m going to
race harder and smarter than I might if I were there just trying to finish or
just gain experience. I’m excited
about more focus on results.
Pete: This year will be
more result driven. However, I would prefer chasing results over struggling to
survive even though it could become very fustrating if the results don’t come.
Ben: It will be both
harder in some ways, and easier in others.
Harder because we will be focusing more on results.
That means we need to be up front, we need to keep our heads in the game.
That is pressure. On the
other hand, it will be easier as because we know what to expect.
We will be prepared and simply finishing races will no longer be an issue
allowing us to take more chances and more risks in order to win races.
we go back to last year, you’ve done a lot of races of the level of Housatonic
and Univest and that you were racing lots of times against Div 3 and Div 2
teams, this looks pretty professional racing. How did you handle that?
Jed: I found the higher the level of the race, the easier it was
to do my job. For instance, we did a 1.5 race in Austria and I made the front
group. Everyone took their pulls, they did not yell at you when you sat out to
eat, and we ended up putting 12.5 minutes on the field. It felt very easy to
work there, much easier than having a bunch of kermesse superstars yelling at
you non-stop. Besides, it seems that every amateur over 25 still racing in
Belgium WAS a pro, so there really is no difference in abilities.
Matt: We hung on for dear life as long as we could in the races
where we were up against the real pro teams.
They have unbelievable horsepower, but we kept our heads up and went out
and raced as hard as we could and hoped for the best. The really big races (UCI 1.5) were extremely fast, though.
Pete: Bernard is right; we do races every week at that level.
It is hard but it also gives us many opportunities to do well.
Racing is serious business in Europe; the competition is tough; I even
had a chance to do a UCI 1.3 with the National team which included most of the
big division 1 Teams.
Ben: Not too well at first.
To put it lightly, I got my ass kicked.
But I adapted, I got stronger, and soon I was able to hang with some of
these guys. Racing such an elite
level really put things into perspective. I
know exactly how good “Good” really is, and I know how far I am from being
good. Its a motivator.
look at the CC website you see 'home away from home', live-in coach, team-doctor
on call, lots of high-level UCI-races, close co-operation with the U23 team... a
lot of riders in the US would be jealous with all this support, could you tell
us a bit about it, is it really as good as it sounds?
Jed: It is better than
what I can find in the US. That is why I am involved. I can give this level of
devotion and still be unpaid for only a brief period of time. I decided I would
rather try it at the top than pretend I am something better and never leave
home. At least this way if I return to US racing, I know the forest from the
Matt: The racing is as
good as it gets, that’s the best part for me.
That’s the part I think about in the last hour of long training rides
when I just want to be on the couch. It’s
what makes it all worth it. Yes, we
have access to a doctor and a coach, but for me, these are secondary to the
opportunity to do the kind of racing we did.
Also, we paid to be there, it isn’t as though we were over there for
Pete: It is really good,
Bernard and Ann are amazing, they care about us tremendously.
The racing is great and we have all the tools to get through the season.
But it doesn’t make it easy. The
racing is so hard that you need all of these things in order race over there.
is what he says it is. All of those
things are true... and yes, the racing is phenominal.
But, like Bernard mentions, it is like a home away from home.
We all get used to the daily grind and it becomes “normal man” to
quote Bernard. Not that we lose
grip with the fact that we are extremely privalaged to be there and that we are,
in a sense, living a cyclist’s dream. We
know, and we are appreciative of that. All
I’m saying is that its still a lot of hard work and it can still take its toll
just like anywhere else.
the biggest shock for you concerning living in Europe, what was hardest to get
used to (if you ever did)?
The hardest part was living with other Americans. Ha, ha. Before going over I
had lived alone for 2 years and getting used to roomates again was really tough.
It was hard for me in the summer when there was so much down time between races.
You can’t really go out and see Europe because you
have to rest, but I am going to do more this summer to be out and a part
of European life.
I loved living in Europe, and I don’t know if there were any real shocks.
If anything living with ten other guys and dealing with their
personalities might have been hardest for me, as I’d basically lived with one
other roommate for a few years. Obviously
that will always be hard, though.
I actually found it very easy to adapt. Everyone in the house spoke english and just about everyone
in Belgium speaks English very well. I
did notice that after a while I would “tune out” if people around me were
talking in another language; the same for TV commercials and radio djs.
I really didnt find it too hard to adapt to the European lifestyle.
In fact, I prefer it over American living.
Europe is more socially oriented and is much richer in culture than the
US. However, there still are a few
things that take some getting used to. For
instance, the power outlets are completely different, so none of your (American)
appliances work over there. Nobody
accepts credit cards. And sometimes
the streets smell like urine. But
whatever, I love it!
To end on
a funny note: last year, one of the guys said once that the riders should start
collecting Berrnard’s quotes. Could
you give us some of those?
“Here, we will find your true limits.” and “Touristicals”
Bernard’s English is far better than I speak any other language, so I’m not
going to poke too much fun, but there’s a few things with grammatical errors
that end up being kinda funny, like “I’m not mad on you, man!”
Bernard’s a pretty funny guy a lot of the time and has a really good
sense of humor, and he says some pretty hilarious stuff.
am not mad on you”, “Ja, ja, ja” and “You will suffer like a beaten
MAN, soon we will be trainingScamp. Now we are halfway January and normally we are getting
strong. I am ready to suffer like a beaten dog.”
Every month, we
will publish an article about the CC with interviews from different riders, as
well as the coach, the doctor and Bernard himself. Stay tuned and don't
forget the diaries!