Race Winning Intervals | Indoor Cycling Session On The Passo Falzarego


(upbeat electronic music)
(pedalling bike) – Well hello, and welcome to GCN’s Race High Intensity
Interval Training Session. This one is straight out of
Matt Stephens’ book of pain. So warning up front, this is gonna hurt. But it’s also gonna do us
a heck of a lot of good, so I say bring it on. Now we’re gonna be doing it up the legendary Passo Falzarego and Passo Valparola. So we start on the Falzarego, and then we turn on to the brutally steep but short Valparola at the finish. Its gradient is about 6% for 11 1/2 kilometres. Well that’s what I measured it at. on my Wahoo anyway. And although it’s an average of 6%, that belies the fact that in the middle, we’ve got 2 k’s of flat, so therefore, if I’ve
simulated this correctly, we’ve got an awful lot that’s significantly steeper than that. But the main thing about today are these intervals. So, we are starting with
our customary warm-up. We’ve got five minutes
just pedalling gently, just get the blood flow, blood flowing around your muscles, and then, we’ve got two
minutes of riding tempo, the four-interval start. And like I said, they are gonna hurt. But, they’re brilliant as well. So, they’re race-winning intervals. Each one consists of 30 seconds of hard, flat-out riding, but then, instead of
recovering afterwards, we’re straight into riding
a threshold for two minutes. And then, we finish off
with another 30 seconds of max effort. So each block is three minutes long, with two 30-second efforts book-ending it, and we’re gonna do that five times, so it is pretty punchy. Now, I always think
it’s nice to visualise, so as well as looking at
the beautiful scenery, in my head, I’m gonna be
picturing each one of these blocks in a race situation. So, my first 30 seconds
is gonna be an attack. I’m gonna attack the bunch,
and try and get that gap. And then, I’m gonna sit in
the saddle, get nice and aero, and maintain my lead over the peloton, and that final 30 seconds is
gonna be surging for the line, making sure I get to it first. And that means, therefore,
that we’re all gonna be winning five races in just 36 minutes, which seems like a bonus if you ask me. Now, how about pacing these things, then? ‘Cause that is really important. Doing 30 seconds max into threshold is pretty tough, so I want you to bear in
mind that you need to have a little bit of something in reserve so you can sit in the saddle and then just gear down a little bit to threshold, and leave it all out there for that final 30 seconds. So if you’ve got a power metre, it’s reasonably straightforward, ’cause you know what threshold is. If you don’t, there is
a risk that you can get a little bit overenthusiastic
on those threshold riding. And then that last 30
seconds is gonna be hard to shoe through, ’cause
you’re gonna be in a box. So, what I’m gonna try
and do is lead you by telling you about my gear choices. So I’m riding on a
CycleOps Hammer Trainer, with gradient set at 4%, which is why I’m currently
a little out of breath, pedalling at 80-something rpm on standard gears, so
about 39-28 going a minute. I’m still going a couple of hundred watts, so I’m simulating our climb. So what I’m gonna do
in the flat out sprint I’m spinning in my little chainring and then
when I get to threshold, where we change into two sprockets easier, and that should put me in
exactly the right spot. Bearing in mind, you’re
gonna want to pedal a little bit faster for the hard efforts, and a little bit slower for threshold, as you would out in the road. Although, for me, 110 rpm on a climb no matter what the wattage
feels pretty uncomfortable. You may have guessed, I’m no Chris Brew. But, I’m gonna do my best, as I hope you all will as well. That is at the end of the day what these indoor training
sessions are all about. They’re all about what you can do. You get the most out of it. You leave it all there. That is gonna be key. Right, how’s the warm-up going? Hopefully you’ll be getting a little bit out of breath now, as you can hear. I’ve just changed gear, so I’m lifting my effort up slightly, and getting ready to change up. This is tempo riding, so we’re gonna be starting to get out of
breath, ready and go. The idea is that you’re
gonna want to be breathing, that you’re gonna be
sweating a little bit, ’cause otherwise that first 30 seconds max is really gonna hurt. We don’t want it to become too
much of a shock to the system so let’s just keep limbering up. Keep the gears nice and light, and get that intensity there as well. (upbeat electronic music) Look at that climb. I wasn’t actually cracking
there, I’m not gonna lie. Start on the Falzarego,
winding up through the trees. Beautiful road surface, and then we start to
break out the tree line. Pretty quickly, we hit the snow line, ’cause we are high up here. The bottom of this
climb is at 1490 metres, and the top, 2192. So, if you’re a sea level
inhabitant like I am, it’s pretty breathless up there. It’s fitting now, I’m
already out of breath, as you can probably hear. Right, let’s concentrate a little bit, ’cause we’ve got 40 seconds
until we start these efforts. Like I said, first 30 seconds,
we’re going really hard. Fast cadence, but just
leave a little something so that you can then gear down to a slightly easier gear, and then we can ride at threshold. So I recommend for you two sprockets to two gear changes, sit at threshold, pedalling 20 rpms slower. Let’s not get bogged down. It’s time to do some hard work. Are you ready? And, go. First 30 second max. Fast feet. Get that cadence up. 110 rpms if you can manage it. Don’t worry too much about the wattage. Just think about your effort. Think about the cadence. Last five seconds before changing back to threshold. Ready, go. Here we go. Right, try and get your
breathing under control. There you go. Get your gear right. (breathes heavily) It should feel a little bit like recovery, which is saying something, isn’t it, when we’re at threshold. But just try to get your breathing under control. Helps if you’re not talking. Okay, here we go. My effort is about right now. Taking a minute, and I’m back
at what I call threshold. (breathes heavily) So at about 39-21 right now. Okay. Think about a visualisation. Are you close to someone behind you? I got a gap. But they can see the
finish line, as can I. So we’re gonna have to sprint. We’re gonna have to do
another 30 second effort the last few hundred
metres to the finish line. Get ready for it. Lift that cadence, and just
change one gear harder. Ready. Three, two, one, go. (breathes heavily) Ah, that cadence is a killer. Come on. Fast feet, fast feet. Ten more seconds. We’ve got two minutes of recovery. Right, don’t stop pedalling. We’re going up a hill, remember. You stop pedalling, you stop moving. Okay, an easy few. We’re still doing a couple hundred watts. Trying to keep cadence at 90 rpm. The most important thing here is oxygen. So deep breaths. Try and get your effort
levels back under control. Good opportunity to drink as well. (breathes heavily) No sense in getting
dehydrated on indoor trainer, even if you sweat as much as me. You’re gonna be drinking a whole bottle between now and the finish. Only 25 minutes to go. One is all done, four left. Okay, how you feeling? I think my upper level’s
coming about right. It’s not totally recovered but I feel like I’m ready to
do another one already. I’ll unzip a little bit. Okay. (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) I think this is a flat bit of the climb. I’ve got my pace a little bit higher than you’ll be, I bet. A 7% climb. Right then, you ready? Time for another effort. 30 seconds. Here we go. Nice fast feet. (groans) Think about getting that gap. Right, nearly back to threshold. Five seconds more. One. Okay. Feel that cadence drop. (groans) That one hurt. (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) Think about breathing hard. Try to recover. Tear that gap over peloton. (breathes heavily) Okay, gonna take about a minute. I think I’m back to threshold. The grade has kicked in now. So you can see, a long, straight section. (breathes heavily) Alright, get ready for
the next 30 seconds, finish off this little block. Full commitment, 10 out of 10 effort. Leave it all there. Think about that recovery. You’ll have about two minutes, remember. Ready, three, two, one. Go. (breathes heavily) (grunts) Think about that cadence. Five. Three, two, one, and back off. (breathes heavily) (gasps, groans) I’m actually hurting, to be honest. (grunts) I tell you straight
up, I can feel my legs. I can feel them, that really good, sharp, stinging feeling. (breathes heavily) Remember that this pain is good pain. Self-inflicted, it’s
inflicted for a reason. That reason is that
we’re gonna be stronger. After this, we get off the bike. Have a lie down, something
to eat, something to drink. 24 hours later, you’ll be better for it. You’ll be a stronger cyclist. That’s what it’s all about. (breathes heavily) Right. Let me think about
my recovery a bit more. Still breathing pretty hard. Still got three blocks to go. Get my legs right. (breathes heavily) Alright, brace yourselves
for that 30 seconds. Another race-winning move. (breathes heavily) Is it the same race for you? Or is it a different race? It’s a different race for me. Correct peloton, my tired
legs can take some commitment. It’s what it’s all about. Hard training, easy racing. Ready, and we’re off again. (breathes heavily) Ten more seconds. And back to threshold. Don’t get too carried away. Pay attention to your
gears and your cadence. (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) Think about getting as
much oxygen as you can. (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) You can probably tell, the
effort’s getting to me now. We’re a minute into threshold. It still feels like I
haven’t recovered yet. But that’s what we want. ‘Cause it’s designed to make us suffer. (breathes heavily) ‘Cause when you do let rip, unleash the fury when you’re outside, you’ll be going that much quicker. It’ll be that much easier. (breathes heavily) (clears throat) Okay, 15 more seconds. (breathes heavily) Alright, get ready for
another 30 second blast before recovery, and go. (groans, breathes heavily) Halfway there. See those feet moving nice and quickly. And recover. Into my easiest gear Try not to stop totally. (groans) Badly timed. You see, we just hit the switch back. Always a tell-tale sign
the gradient’s picking up. (breathes heavily) Now I’ll tell you, I’m thinking
about two things right now. Firstly, I’m thinking about owning the training session. Much, really, is keeping one aim in mind. In my head, I’m the boss here. It doesn’t matter what plan I’m doing. It’s about doing it to
the best of my ability. You should be doing to
the best of your ability. Ticking every box, hitting the effort, working hard, hitting the right
cadence at the right time. And then, the second
thing I’m thinking about is I’m picturing a race
I’ve got coming up. I know from experience
how this kind of effort can really pay dividends. You don’t race at threshold. You race over, under,
over, under, over, under. So your ability to recover, and then still go hard is a really undervalued but key ability in bike racing. And even if you’re not a racer, it pays dividends on your group ride, when you’re trying to
get another K an hour on your average speed. That’s why I want 100%
commitment for this next block, ’cause there’s not much more pain left. You ready? Let’s go, 30 seconds. (breathes heavily) Nearly time to get back off to threshold. Ready, point to get easier. Feel the cadence drop. (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) Time to recover. (breathes heavily) This is our penultimate interval at threshold. Penultimate block. Just do your best to
keep your quality there. Look at that timing if you’ve got it. Match your cadence. Remember the gears you
were using on interval one. Make sure you’re still there. (breathes heavily) Oh, this is a tough one. (breathes heavily) I’m starting to feel
like dropping Matt now. All I can think of is how much
pain he’s putting us through. Imagine if we were dishing it out. Dropping that peloton. Ready? 30 seconds coming up before recovery. (breathes heavily) Ready? (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) I need the recovery. Three, two, one. (gasps) Nearly there, so nearly there. Two minutes. Try and get things under control. (breathes heavily) Keep kinda hard at working. Hopefully you’re at the same level. Dropping down the oxygen. We’ve got two more max absorbs, sandwiching that one last
two-minute threshold effort. It doesn’t feel like threshold anymore. It feels harder. I know it is, got it on my power metre. Using the same gear, cycle camera’s at same gradient, still 4%. (breathes heavily) We’re nearly out of snow
line now, can you see? Out of tree line, rather. Pretty much see the top. Signs telling us that’s the case. The top of the Falzarego from there, just a K and a half from very top. Alright everyone, last block, let’s go. 110 rpm. Max effort. Okay, back to threshold nearly. One. Find the gear. Try not to ease off. (gasps for breath) Oh, that’s burning. It’s good pain though. It’s good. Gonna make me faster. Look at the snow. We’re doing really hard, everyone. We’ve nearly cracked it. We’ve beaten the session. (breathes heavily)
(upbeat electronic music) Now then, if you’ve paying attention to the onscreen graphics or whether you’re listening to me. If you’re listening to
me, you’re in for a shock. ‘Cause this isn’t two
minutes of threshold, this is three. And then, the last interval
is not 30 seconds at max, it’s a minute. I’m sorry, I didn’t write it. So just hang in there. This is where we go real deep. (breathes heavily) Just let your cadence and
your gears do the work. Don’t push against it. (breathes heavily) Don’t think about your legs. Think about you cadence,
about your breathing. Neither of those hurt. (breathes heavily) Okay, get ready. No hiding places now. You’re staring down the
barrel of a one-minute max. Up the back of 11 minutes at threshold. I can’t do the maths
about how much at max. You ready? Last race-winning effort, go! (breathes heavily, gasps) (background voices chatter) 30 seconds to go. 25. Don’t let that cadence drop. 10. Five. Three, two, one. (gasps) Bit of a time out. You can see we’ve reached
the top of the Falzarego. We’ve now got the glorious victory parade of the Valparola. It’s super steep, so do your best. But it’s all about recovery. It’s all about recovery. I’m woefully short of 90 rpm. Try and lift it up a bit. (breathes heavily) Look at that view. That’s the top of the Valparola. That’s where we’re headed. Just enjoy the ride. Make sure you’ve drunk enough. I’m nearly out of 600 ml done. Take some good on board before
you go and have a shower. Also it’s important to
let your body temperature come back to normal a little bit, otherwise, you get in the
shower, come out of the shower, it’s hard to adjust. To make it easy, just think about all that great work we just ticked off. Five epic interval blocks, book-ending two minutes at threshold with 30 seconds efforts, and
then the sting in the tail, upping it to three
minutes and then a minute. I don’t know about you. Even though I knew that was coming, I thought I’d shield you from
the blow as long as possible. But wow. That’s a tough way to finish up a session. So job well done for everyone. Race or not, even if what you like to do most is wrack up distance, you can’t do that so well
on a trainer indoors, but if you do the hard work, it pays dividends across
all aspects of your riding. Whether you want to do
200 miles, 100 miles, 50 miles, start cross racing. Fitness is fitness. Right, only two minutes to go now. This bit of climb is brutal,
just to let you know. But that rock signals the final steps. Look at that. It’s that snow that’s inviting to me. Maybe we could all do
a dive into snowdrift. Do team snow angels. This was the first snow of the season. Very special place to ride that day. This road carries on, heading down to the Badia Valley in which there’s a whole
stack of great riding. Just after a 15 K descent. I’ve got some GoPro footage
of that, if you’re wondering. (breathes heavily) Still can’t get my breathing
quite under control. After you’ve done that job, you’re nearly there. Well done, everyone. It’s time for a well-earned break. Big drink of water. Nice long, cold, shower. And there you go. More hard work than you thought possible, fit into 37 minutes. (breathes heavily) (groans) That’s me, done. Now, just as I creep painfully to the top, always have to say, is to make sure you give
this session a thumbs up. If it hurt you like it hurt me, I won’t ask if you liked
it, that is not the point. And then, of course,
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