the early season palava

it certainly wasn’t a perfect winter of preparation for your friendly neighbourhood crankpunk. in fact, it was little short of a disaster. a trapped nerve between the 4th and 5th vertebrae destroyed all end of year racing and early winter training from mid-October to the end of November, and then a young speedboy in daddy’s Lexus almost destroyed my good self, trying to sneak a left turn into oncoming traffic – which happened to be me, on a scooter, hurtling happily (til impact that is) along.

after flying through the air a good 15 meters and sliding along on pavement for another 20, i was lucky not to be in serious trouble. i suffered pretty severe contusions to my shins, ripped skin on my right knee that needed stitches and a broken thumb. my full-face helmet was battered and my scooter totaled, so i really was pretty fortunate.

scar tissue on my knee and a huge swelling of my left lower leg meant painful legs for weeks. two pins held my thumb bone together which meant no riding anyway, the doc said i’d be looking at 6 weeks before they took the pins out. great.

finally the legs got good enough for me to get on the indoor trainer, though by the end of December, when i first sat on the saddle again, all motivation had deserted me and i was getting close to fat – 86kg in fact, by January 1st!

to give you an idea, race weight is between 75-77kg. my friends looked at me incredulously when i told them my weight, but my hips were singing a different story, trust me – something involving the word ‘muffin’…


so, obviously, not an ideal way to prepare for a year full of UCI stage races. and especially not a good way to get ready for my ‘hometown’ race 2.1 Tour de Taiwan, which is on March 18th-24th.

without the luxury of being able to build a good base, instead i launched myself into 90-120km rides, going basically as hard as i could as often as i could. i avoided hills and trained on flats, trying to build a base of power to help in a way to substitute for stamina. it’s not ideal but it’s not as bad a thing to do as you might think. within a month i was hitting a 90km route in under three hours – one that included over 1,000m of climbing.

a week later i took 8 minutes off the same loop, and a week later still another 4 minutes. in between i started doing a shorter three climb loop with steeper hills, banging up the hills and resting in between.

slowly but surely the weight started to drop, the times got faster, and finally, after something like 4 months since i was in decent condition, i started to feel like a proper bike rider again. there’s so much emphasis these days on LSD and base training, but the truth is that that stuff only works if you can ride over 5 hours a day. if you get enough rest you can take this kind of a short cut, it just means harder training sooner, throwing in long TT -style effrorts and some 20-30 minute tests to build the lactic acid threshold, with concentrated emphasis on marginal gains and good, proper rest.

anyway, i’m racing tomorrow – a 70km hill climb up the beautiful Ali Shan in central Taiwan. should be brutal. can’t wait! and then starting March 18th, the real test, the Tour de Taiwan. i won the Green Jersey there last season by dint of 5 days of mad and very long attacks, this year i’ll be keeping an eye on the GC.

Ali Shan
Ali Shan

we’ll see then i guess, how good this training has been!

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

4 thoughts

Leave a Reply