Monday 19 March 2012

Sun, Slopes and Single-track

His voice sill echoes in my head ‘Heels down Richard’ as I descent the rocky trail.  Ian Potter taught me so much last week with AQR in Portugal.

Climbing Hard
It was quite a revelation realising that my established beliefs and habits are the very things that are holding me back.  I’ve learnt to ride and train over the years through varied research coupled with trial and error.  To have world class athletes and coaches guide me in person and teach a better way forward, was an eye opening experience. 

Joining an AQR (A Quick Release) coaching week, at first was daunting with the high credentials of the other guests.  We very soon gelled as a group sharing experiences along with a friendly banter. 

Top of the mountain
Its not just about riding the bike, the morning classrooms sessions covered essential areas pertaining to peak performance, these included; nutrition, core stability, stretching, bike setup, tyre choice, and training programmes.  Kate, Ian and Anne are clearly experts in their fields where they shared with us a summary in simple English that we could all understand.

Anne Dickins, a physiotherapist specialising in sports performance, conducted an assessment discovering that my body is not as perfect as I thought; in fact my left leg is a bit wonky. This imbalance is affecting my riding and once corrected through her prescribed exercises should enable me to perform better.

The VO2 Max test with the breathing tubes to measure lung capacity and breathing effectiveness was interesting.  I was pleasantly surprised by my high score.

The bike fit was entertaining; with Ian looking for the perfect riding position, and Anne understanding my body’s limitations.  Combining their blend of skills, adjustments were made to the bike to enhance performance.  As my body improves, further adjustments can be made on the bike.

Kate Potter explained how to get the most power out of my body using a combined programme of nutrition and training.  It’s not all about eating as much as I can whilst riding as fast as I can.

There was plenty of time during the week to spend on the bike enjoying the sunny weather.  We rode many rocky trails up and down the rolling hills, often stopping to receive technical riding tips from Ian Potter or to practice difficult sections.  Several videos were taken to demonstrate our riding posture and note areas for improvement. 

Throughout the day, frequent challenges were presented to us involving long technical or steep climbs.  Body positioning on the bike, even pedal strokes and appropriate pacing was essential to reach the top.

The rocky single track tested and improved the bike handling skills to clear the numerous obstacles.  With some fast descents, the grin factor was in abundance.

All too soon the week came to an end and we returned back to the cold and wet UK.  The skills and lessons learned will enable me to reach another level with my fitness and bike performance, so perhaps one day I will reach the podium.  

Thanks AQR.