The Sprinter’s Guide to Cycling Vol. 1: Training Rides

(The first in a series) INTRO: Sprinters are the pariahs of the peleton, despised and verbally abused as “wheelsuckers,” “peleton trollers,” or worse:  

Deep down though is the unspoken truth: jealousy is at the heart of the contempt. In the roadie dominated peleton, where suffering is the gold standard, the very idea that someone could merely coast in the vortex of the roadie created draft then break out a few golden strokes with their fast twitch muscles to win the race seems unfair.

But let’s face it – if any of these roadies could choose their lot - they’d rather be a sprinter. Inevitably blessed with larger muscles, better looks, and social skills held in reserve from their skinny, geekish bretheren, the sprinter more often than not gets the gold and the girl. It is really no wonder that they are so hated. But, being a sprinter is more than fast twitch muscles, podiums, and podium girls – it is a lifestyle, with a clear set of unspoken rules and traditions – most of which are in direct contrast to the majority roadie rule. In these next few volumes I’ll attempt capture some of them.

Volume 1: The Sprinter’s Guide to individual training rides

Roadies often like to ride together – to prove their fitness, and to socialize with other humans capable of understanding their awkward attempts at conversation. Roadies also like long solo rides – the longer and more arduous the better. Other than avoiding traffic and seeking hills, roadies really put no effort into the art of designing rides and they care little for the weather conditions. This is the one and only area where the sprinter over-analyzes vs. the roadie.

Rule #1: Sprinter training rides must be designed to avoid hills, minimize headwinds and crosswinds, and maximize tailwinds.

Before any ride, I check the wind and design a ride that maximizes scenery, minimizes exposure to headwinds and crosswinds, and avoids hills. I honestly assumed everyone did this until joining a few roadies out for rides and found myself out in the wind scoured cornfields of Illinois without care or knowledge to where the wind was coming from, or if there were hills. It was a rough slog out into crosswinds, and an even worse slog home into a headwind. It was coarse and inelegant.

The first rule of sprinter bike route planning is to determine if there is wind stronger than 7mph, if so, the route must be customized to minimize the effects. Specifically, routes must be chosen that start with the headwind section first – preferably under cover of forest or river valley. The cross wind portions should also be sheltered as much as possible by trees, river banks or bluffs to block the crosswinds on the traverse, and then open land for the tailwind aided return.


 Also the golden rule: never, ever, head downwind to start a ride… In the attached diagram you can see a typical ride from my house w/ a NNE wind. (For a South or SW wind I just reverse the route.)

Next up: The Sprinter's Guide to Group Rides