Saturday 16 February 2008

Riding with Coach Troy in New York State: A Recommendation

At this time of year I am hard at work, riding the Tour de Basement as the snow falls gently down outside. Maybe not so gently: we are promised the joys of 15-30 more centimeters (up to 1 foot, in the Old System) of the white stuff this coming Sunday.

Luckily I am one of the few people on the planet to actually admit to having no problem riding indoors for fairly lengthy periods. My personal record was the Braveheart Ride, when I watched the Mel Gibson film in its 3 hour entirety while turning the cranks.

My secret to indoor trainer success is to usually to watch old Tour de France/Giro/Tour of Flanders DVDs and pretend I am out there riding with the guys. This has worked well as there is nothing to detract from doing your own workout. My Cruel Coach has me doing the High Intensity Training regime of Dr. Arnie Baker and there is so much brutality in this that I can easily match my exertion to things like the 1 hour session of Marco Pantani climbing the Plateau de Beille.

In addition to my race library, I have several other DVDs that are training-specific. I will review these for the blog but I wanted to start with my most recent acquisition as I enjoyed it so much.

Coach Troy Jacobson of Maryland is well-known/notorious for his Spinervals training DVDs, which usually feature a team of cyclists riding indoors and creating serious sweat and tendon bulges while the coach walks around them and saying things like: "Good job!" This must appeal to people as the number of his DVDs seems to be increasing exponentially.

The latest series is one that features rides outdoors. Like, with scenery and movement. I purchased the second in the series. It features the Lake Placid Ironman loop of 56 miles. I would like to go south (Lake Placid is only 2 hours from here) and ride this course in Spring and thought it would be nice to see the route beforehand.

The DVD features Coach Troy himself riding the course. He is being followed by a car filming the whole thing, except for the sequences when the Coach Troy Cam gives you a cyclist's-eye-view of the road ahead. This helmet-mounted camera is a nice idea, but Coach Troy should spend a bit more money on equipment as the view always seemed a little blurry to me.

Coach Troy gives a running (rolling) commentary of the route and suggestions about where to go fast and where to pull back. He varies the gearing, and you can follow along: the DVD indicates the gearing, the time enroute and the level of exertion in percentage terms. Although it seemed to me that he was using the big chainring where I would probably not, it is very easy to follow along. You can listen to Coach Troy with music, or music without Coach Troy if you prefer.

Whiteface Mountain (5th highest in New York State)
Photo by Paul Duncan

You get a nice impression of the scenery as the DVD is divided up into segments and you pass through the village of Keen and through a series of nice rollers to Jay before getting in some good climbing. You can see Whiteface Mountain, famous as the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics alpine ski runs. Incidentally, there is a toll road that goes to the top and averages an 8 percent grade. It is described as being "challenging." The summit of the mountain is 1480 m (4867 feet) and the road gets to within 91 feet of the top. Hmmm.

Anyway, you can get in a lot of excellent training with this DVD. It is almost 3 hours in length and you can imagine that you are riding in the wild forests of the Adirondack State Park. Well, except that you spend most of the time actually looking at Coach Troy's butt but at least he is letting you slipstream him. The real Ironmen don't get that option in July.

Coach Troy offers the DVD at his website for $34, but I got it a bit cheaper on E-Bay.

1 comment:

Will said...

Glad to hear you are training hard.

It's a neat idea to do trainer workouts while watching epic cycling rides.