Wrestling the Gorilla
Hanging from the ceiling of our indoor training studio is a small, lifelike gorilla doll. If you look closely you can see a sign hanging around its neck that says “You stop when I say you can”. That mascot is a reminder to the riders who train with him that training to race a bicycle is somewhat like wrestling a gorilla:
You don’t stop when you get tired; you stop when the gorilla gets tired!
What is more pertinent though is that the gorilla has seen the benefits he brings to those that wrestle with him. They learn that it is much more important to wrestle properly, with structure and purpose - this is what tires him out - rather than just grabbing and grappling and holding on as long as you can.
And this is what we want to show you - that proper, structured training and application in our cycling preparation is what brings meaningful adaptation and tangible improvements in our performance. The popular notion that TITS (time in the saddle) is key to performance gain is simply not true.
But, you say, this isn’t what we see in our club groups! We see the benefits of spending as much time riding as fast and as hard as you can. We watch the riders around us going off on longer, faster, harder training rides, skin darkening with increased sun exposure and leg muscles and tendons starting to cord and bulge. For some of us it’s resentful - they obviously have time at their disposal to spend all day riding - we don’t - so when they outperform us at a race we clearly understand that if we spent longer, faster, harder time in the saddle we would also improve. Add to that the benefits of modern training aids like power meters and we could be just like them, if not better.
Or could we?
Sadly for many of us this isn’t a reality. We simply might not have the time, the youth, the disposable income, the motivation to join the “fast bunch”. Where does this leave us in our desire to ride as well as we can and continue in our quest for “personal bests”?
Well there is another reality - wrestling the gorilla! This means turning away from much of what passes as dogma in the cycling world and embracing new options more suited to the demands of our modern lifestyle.
Time becomes one of the primary differentiators - many of us have very limited training time at our disposal, but no real limits to our desires to take on seriously challenging bicycling quests! Can we match these two divergent aspects in a world dominated by TITS?
We believe you can. It's called HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training!
HIIT has become very in-vogue in the past couple of years and has (as is usual with fads) become applied to every conceivable type of exercise - from weight training to CrossFit. But it has for a long time been a feature of studied indoor cycling training and in this respect has been well formulated, researched and developed.
It's what we do. More on this later.