books such as this one have me wondering (seriously) as to just how many cyclists spend their on the bike time in the act of training, however they describe it. because it's obviously a deal more macho and impressive to calmly stroll into the office or coffee stop and relate how many hours or kilometres you spent training at the weekend, than to be me and simply have gone riding my bike. safely employing semantics at this point, any bike ride could be classed as training, as long as you can come up with a convincing goal for which you're meant to be aiming.
this won't be the first time i've had occasion to point out that i don't get out much, and i doubt it will be the last, but i really have no notion as to how many folks are really training for something, whether it be the next sportive, the sprint for a speed sign, or a four day stage race in shetland. mr hastings has found himself as a member of team wiggle (long story), and now has every intention of mincing that hrm, in preparation for dragging david harmon up the steepest of inclines. i, however, still just go out for a bike ride and a soya cappuccino.
gone, however, are the days of fausto coppi, when all that was required was the propensity to ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike; things are ever so much more scientific nowadays, and chris carmichael of lance's comeback fame, is likely at the forefront of making sure the wherewithal is at your fingertips.
this isn't chris's first venture into writing about his (successful) chosen career, and he's developed a fine ability to write a real book, by which i mean a collection of pages worth reading. there are more than a few well meaning individuals who have purchased bicycle shaped objects, full of good intentions to use them to improve whatever complete lack of fitness they may have developed. similarly, mr carmichael is doubtless aware that some percentage of his readers have no intention whatsoever of putting themselves through the purgatory that his chapters will doubtless advise.
i will put my hand clearly in the air at this point, and admit that i will not be buying a powermeter, nor will i likely be filling my six hours of available ride time attemtping fartleks. in normal day to day life, this would be a trifle disappointing, even for the modest price of only £14, but as alluded to above, chris and jim may already have sussed this, and composed their training volume accordingly. let me put it this way; the actual training plan doesn't put in an appearance until chapter five of an eight chapter book.
now, before you feel short changed at the point of purchase, this is a good thing. chris carmichael isn't at the top of his game for nothing, and thus has a wealth of information to impart regarding nutrition, intensity of effort, how to make the most of your fitness, and current thinking on training and physiology in relation to pedalling rather fast. whether or not you intend to subject yourself to the six hours of intense pain and suffering that such a time crunched (oh how i hate that term) programme dictates, and as i have already intimated, i do not, it's very hard a) to put this book down, and b) not to pick up a useful amount of beneficial knowledge. even if it's just to take you to debbie's before the chocolate sauce has etched itself into that light and fluffy soya foam.
however, should you be avidly keen to fill those six hours with the training programme that will turn you into an executive chris hoy, this is likely the book for you. mr carmichael asks you, the prospective guinea pig, to choose the type of riding you feel the need to improve upon, basically racing or sportive, and follow the relevant charts. and this whether you're the mighty dave t, or someone fresh out of primary school. it will surprise you not at all that acronyms are in serious use as we head to the nitty gritty: em (endurance miles); ss (steadystate intervals); t (tempo); cr (climbing repeats) - i'm sure you get the general idea. but bear in mind that this is a smallish paperback, and there's a heck of a lot to cram into a week's purgatory: without these acronyms, the print would either have to be a tad smaller, or they'd have needed a lot more pages.
having read from cover to cover (and there's a seriously comprehensive index at the back), i can honestly say i have a far better understanding of how i work and how this relates to my cycling, even if my six hours are still unlikely to realise the hard work necessary to fulfil this books promise. of course there's just the off-chance that one of thse days, when i struggle to fit into my lycra, that i'll dig this out and have a more serious look at chapter five...........................................................................................................................................................................................................