What happens when three renowned cycling journalists decide to jump in the saddle for an intense winter of structured indoor training? We aren’t completely sure, but you’re invited to follow along and find out.
Three of the industry’s biggest names in the world of professional cycling journalism — Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Rob Hatch of The Telegraph Cycling Podcast — have committed to training hard and smart this winter. Why? Just like the cyclists they report on all year long, they too are preparing for a big race: a three-man 4K Pursuit at the Herne Hill Velodrome, the iconic venue in South East London.
Each expert has the same goals: They want to get faster and win the race against each other. With pride and bragging rights on the line, they’re taking their training seriously. Currently, Moore, Birnie and Hatch are working through TrainerRoad’s Sweet Spot Base and Pursuit training plans to prepare for their big event.
To shed light on what it takes to work through a properly structured training plan, these professional cycling journalists are documenting their training. For the next 18 weeks, you can follow their progress.
Last week was the journalists’ first week of structured training. To kick things off, they dusted off their turbo trainers and completed their FTP tests.
Here’s what Birnie, a skeptic with the opinion that turbo trainers are instruments of torture, had to say about his first week of training with TrainerRoad:
“The first session was so engaging but I thought, ‘Well, I’m always enthusiastic for the first session, it’s the second or third one that’s the problem.’ [Now] I’m two rides in and already I’m finding it really beneficial and different to anything else I’ve ever done. A few winters ago I did [trainer] videos and I found them great but after I’d done each programme a couple of times I struggled to complete them with the same intensity… the sessions are challenging but not ridiculously hard.
Smashing your head against a brick wall for an hour is no fun and it makes it hard to look forward to the next session. It’s not realistic and it’s also not how anyone actually rides a bike outdoors. In summer, I don’t go out and smash myself for an hour on the road. Once a week I might do the chaingang but most of my riding is varied – fast bits, slow bits, easy bits, hard bits. Today’s [workout] felt like going for a bike ride more than any turbo session I’ve done before. In fact, it was quite hard to keep down to the power numbers and cadence required. 2.36 w/k sounds so pathetic but before this week I had no idea how good (or bad) I was at cycling.”
All three experts will be training roughly 3.5 hours per week until their big event, which is expected to take place the first week of March. As of today, the hosts are two weeks into their training plans and already seeing improvements in their fitness.
To follow along as Moore, Birnie and Hatch document the highs and lows of their winter training program with TrainerRoad, listen to The Telegraph Cycling Podcast, follow their online training journal and subscribe below to get bi-monthly updates with training news and event details:
Get to Know These Cycling Experts
If you’re not familiar with who Moore, Birnie and Hatch are, here’s a quick rundown on each of them:
Richard Moore is a journalist and the award-winning author of the biography, In Search of Robert Millar. His latest cycling book, Étape: the untold stories of the Tour de France’s defining stages, was published last June.
Lionel Birnie is a journalist, author and publisher. After training as a journalist he spent five years working for a local newspaper before joining Cycling Weekly in 1998. In 2013, he published Hunger, the long-awaited autobiography of Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly. It was shortlisted for Irish Sports Book of the Year.
Rob Hatch is a freelance broadcaster that can be found commentating on cycling for Eurosport television, BBC Radio 5 Live, IMG Media and more. He reports on cycling’s largest events.
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