Header, Main

  Cycling Performance Simplified

Navigation Bar Header

[ American Road Cycling Forum ]   

Header, Main
Lynn History Navigation
Cycling Performance Simplified


Skip Navigation Links
Orthotic (NOT)
Dead Spot
Training Program
Video Links
Power Calculator
Watts vs Speed
File Structure
Never Chase
Flight Check
Wish List
Course Outline
Subject Index
Climbing Calculator
ZWIFT (1-hr TT)
Segment Calculator
Naturally Thin
Back Cover

Updated January 22, 2016 | By Bob Fugett

Never Chase... Catch

<-- prev | next -->

One of the most important techniques you will ever learn is this: never chase people at the bottom of hills, catch them at the top.

The basic place to learn and practice this technique is on hills, but the control required is the sort that has relevance to every part of your cycling—from large group rides to individual time trials.

For beginning riders (and those who never learn) this technique is strongly counterintuitive.

It is one of the easiest techniques to learn, but possibly the hardest to master, so it is introduced early in this book to start you working on it right away.

You do not need a power meter to begin testing this technique, but it takes a lot of guts, patience, and self control.

For the Widder this never chase, only catch concept is essential to keep her in strong group rides.

You may remember that she is incredibly weak in a 5 second test but as strong as a Cat3 man at 5 minutes (probably much higher by the time you read this), and that trend toward increasing power continues as the length of the effort increases.

In order for people to get a glimpse of Mary's true power (which is really a benefit to observe), it was apparent early on that she must always control her emotion at the bottom of hills.

It is at the bottom of hills that the stronger (generally heavier) riders always attack in hopes of getting a slight advantage before the hill kicks in.

In fact, some smarty pants riders will even go so far as to use quick power burst feints on starting a hill as they try to trick other riders into overworking and blowing up.

These clever cyclists hit the bottom hard, then pull up quickly to rest while others are panicked into overworking to catch them. The ploy is enhanced by faking a slight slow-up just before jumping into the attack. Doing that sets the other riders back on their heels, and the hill grabs them quicker.

Keep in mind that hard attacks are always short lived (a basic truth of physiology) while the significant advantage that Mary enjoys over most riders (power to weight ratio) is only fully realized well after the first several minutes of any effort.

In fact, at 12 minutes her advantage on the appropriate slope is so significant it is virtually unbeatable, especially by those who are macho enough to consider themselves super strong and so stupidly use overworking as their unwavering habit.

People might never get to see the strongest part of Mary's power curve (and learn from it), if she allowed her emotions to control the first 15 seconds of climbs, so she never does it.

She is quite good at using a stepped transition and hold procedure on hills, and people often shudder when they get to the top of a climb only to find the little old lady they thought they had dropped at the bottom is almost effortlessly back on their wheel.

Widder's prime directive is to just let everybody go at the bottom of hills.

She is not to respond in any way but follows her standard default technique as closely as possible. Her effort is based on a metered level of performance that is tested to an absolute set of parameters. She focuses on her known limits and ignores everything else.

She watches her cadence relative to her power output. For example on a hill where the slope will necessarily cause her to over torque near the top, she will hit the bottom hard in her large ring, but as soon as her power output goes over 200 watts she will drop to her small ring and begin dropping her cogs one at a time.

Each time her cadence drops below 90 rpm at the same time her output spikes over 200 watts, she will click down one cog easier. When she reaches her easiest cog, she will stand and click up two in order to stand and rest all the way to the top.

On most slopes, she will never reach the stand and rest stage.

If she varies even slightly from her numbers, she can easily tip the scales in the first minute, and never recover—which is always a sad situation for other riders, because it leads them to believe they beat her, when in fact she only beat herself.

Whether she overworks or under works the result is the same. She will miss her mark and the other riders sadly miss out on seeing a perfect example of how they might improve their own riding.

Be aware these wattages are somewhat arbitrary but may provide a starting point for other riders. It is the technique of playing cadence against power that is important to learn here.

Do not underestimate the difficulty of this technique. It is harder to control your chase response than you might think.

I struggle with it myself even during carefully planned workouts, and even when I am on Mary's wheel and know for certain I will still be with her at the top. If her wheel moves a few inches away from me, I cringe to control the chase instinct, but the associated tension has already thrown back pressure into my pedals.

This is tough stuff, but if you can learn it on hills you will be able to do it on the flats and the downhills, and ignoring your chase instinct will carry you well throughout all your rides.

However, the full mastery of this skill may sometimes allow a chase, but it never follows a knee jerk response.

Only snap onto a pursuit when it makes logical, not emotional sense. Plus, if a chase must happen, it should be totally controlled and go off so quick and smooth it is indistinguishable from a reflex action.

There is nothing more difficult in cycling than controlling your chase response. Personally I am rather bad at it.

If you even so much as twitch, motherfucker, I am coming after your ass, and that my friend, is that.

Remember: Never chase them at the bottom. Catch them at the top.

<-- prev | next -->


A KEYTAP Publication