Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chris Hoy on gears and other things .....

So what should we be thinking about when we're pedalling?

You have to just try and become as fluent and as smooth as possible. You can tell the guys that ride big gears on the road aren’t used to track when they come down, they're just really choppy. Riding rollers is good in a small gear, even just riding small gears in general helps with smooth pedalling. That’s the biggest thing - to be fluent on a bike and to be efficient because you can get guys, you can see they’re putting a big effort in, but they are just not going anywhere and if you can be smooth you can save a lot of energy.

How much tapering would you do for something like the Nationals?

We wouldn’t taper for this event. We’d taper for maybe two events of the year. You’d have your major target, your primary target and a secondary target that would maybe be three of four months before that, so you’re going to do a semi-peak and then you come down and go back. So we just train through these kind of events and use them as training.

Having a bit of a rest, do you generally find that your times drop down?

Well in theory, that’s what is supposed to happen but it doesn’t always work that way. It's funny - the human body is a weird thing you know. Sometimes you feel like you're in the shape of your life and the form's good and you’ve done all the right preparation - like the Commonwealth Games this year in Melbourne I went in to it, really happy with my form, I couldn’t have been happier with the way things had gone prior to that and I got up there and I was creeping, you know. It was weird, and then 2 to 3 weeks later having done virtually no training and my morale was quite low and I just got back up and won the World Champs and did my second best time ever for the Kilo so...

At the level you are at now is it a case that you don’t need to think about each part of the race, it just comes more naturally?

You do have to rely on yourself occasionally, like last night I hadn’t ridden the Kilo since March and it was... you feel a little bit rusty because I don’t do Kilos in training. You do components of the event in your training but not the actual full event, so it's funny, sometimes you do have to give yourself a little reminder of what you need to do. I felt a little bit alien last night, I was riding around, I wasn’t concentrating, I was looking at the scoreboard seeing who was concentrating but it’s hard, there’s not a big crowd, there’s not much atmosphere, its hard to get the best out of yourself.

Is the gear something you change all the time yourself, like do you ride a different gear for different events?

Yeah, I mean depending on the speed you expect to go at and the event itself.

Do you aim to ride a bigger gear for an important event?

Not really. There is a certain cadence band that you’ll use, optimum cadence that you're going to get the maximum power out of. So, if you put a massive gear on you're only going to go at a slowish time and you're going to be way off that and you're going to be struggling. So it’s about getting that right gear selection to get the speed you hope to go at. Watch the top guys on video or if you see them in races just look at the guys that are beating you - that’s what I’ve always done, looked at the guys that were faster than me and think, 'how are they doing that? What are they doing differently?' And just look at the small details and try and experiment with that. You have your own style and technique but at the same time look at the other guys and see how they are doing it.

In terms of trying to increase your speed how much of that work is done in the gym?

Gym? It’s been a very gradual thing. I haven't improved much, I’ve kind of plateaued. You always improve a lot at the start. It’s like anything, you can have a steep learning curve. But from sort of 1999 onwards it’s just been like every year, maybe five kilos, two and a half to five kilos gain in the squat, one rep max. So I think the initial strength you have, if you’ve never been to the gym before and you have a good six months, or 12 months of quality training with the right technique and the right advice, then you do see a difference. If you like - your bottom end curve. You come out of the start gate and you can really kind of have a press and pedal hard at that speed. Obviously it doesn’t always transfer across to your top end speed. You see some guys that are built like stick insects that can pedal like anything and you don’t need to have massive big legs to pedal fast at top end, but at the same time it does help with your start, yeah.

In the gym is there a lot of core work and upper body?

We try not to do too much upper body, I used to do upper body when I was younger. You can put muscle mass on quite easily and you don’t train to get big because you can get big quite easily so yeah, it’s more the frontal area it’s just your aerodynamics. If you’ve got big shoulders and big arms then it’s a lot of air compression. You’re trying to be as small as you can but at the same time you obviously use your arms doing cleans or even when you are squatting you're holding the bar. For dead lifts as well, and just riding the bike. When you’re doing starts you’re kind of holding in that strong brace position. It’s an isometric move, you're not moving your arms - it’s isometric strength so you do use your arms and inevitably you will put that mass on but you try not to do too much.

So once you’re over your start is it quite relaxed once you’ve got the bike going?

Yeah you don’t want to be too tense so all the work we do, the main exercise is the squat, deep squatting because that works your quads and your lower back and your glutes and they’re the main muscles you use when your riding. A little bit of leg press, a little bit of dead lifts and we still do quite a bit of core stuff. If you can squat with a good technique, keeping your posture right without a belt on, at a couple of 100 kilos+, then your core stability is getting a really good specific workout and that way you don’t need to do too much stuff. But to get to that stage you have to do a lot of work on the Swiss ball, a lot a work, you know core stability work.

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