Earlier this year Chris and Liz were training in the gym and before they both returned to Oz, Chris was preparing for the Paris-Roubaix Challenge. On top of the Strength and Conditioning Classes he also did some sports specific sessions to prepare him for the event. Here is a great piece about his experiences (he also put together a few great videos on his training and you can see them here – check out the old gym in the second vid!)…
The Challenge: The Hell Of the North
Paris-Roubaix is not like a normal bike race, in fact it’s not like a sporting event anywhere in the world. The race itself is over a hundred years old, first run well before the tour de France was even a concept, but it is more then this long history that makes it special.
The event itself is held in mid-Spring in an area of northern France that was ravaged by the battlefields of WWI, on the same roads the military used to transport artillery. This then is what separates this race, 1/3 of the event is raced over Flemish cobbled farm roads, or ‘Påve’.
The race is affectionately known as the ‘Hell Of the North’, and for good reason as a combination of the hellish roads, hard racing and notorious weather at this time of year blends itself to create a truly special challenge.
2011 would be the first year amateurs would be granted permission to race over the famed påve, in an event held the day before the pro’s race. We would compete over a similar 160km course, crossing 40km or 16 sectors of påve.
Preparation: Combat Workout
Training for a bike race has a pretty tried and tested routine. 4-5 months out you ride long distances at a easy to medium tempo, as the months progress you build up the miles and intensity. Then with 6-8 weeks to go you go close to the race distance and reach the pinnacle of your training, in short ride your bike … a lot.
But this was different, it would be all good and well to be a strong cyclist, but the battering the cobbles would deliver on your body required a whole different approach to training. Enter Dave McConkey and his Combat Workshop gym. Dave analyzed the event I was under taking, looked at my own physical strengths and weaknesses, and personalised a program that would give my body the best chance to not only survive the påve, but succeed on it.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the sessions were tough, really tough, but everything I was doing was designed to give my core and upper body stability and strength to control the bike on the violent cobbles. The majority of my sessions were done with a group of mixed abilities, but Dave still managed to give each and every one of his clients personal attention. His level of knowledge and understanding is second to none, but more then that, his demonstrating and delivery of new routines makes the whole class easy to follow and stress free.
As race day approached I took a couple of Personal Trainer sessions with Dave to ensure we were both happy with where I was physically, again, something I would recommend for anyone with a specific goal in mind. He had me stronger, fitter and more confident then I had ever been on the bike, now it was up to me.
The Race: Roubaix Dust
The race itself was a truly horrible event. There is no doubt I was physically prepared for the påve, but the actual experience of riding over long sections of completely mangled cobbled farm roads was gruesome. The only way I can put it into words is ‘violent’.
Bizarrely though, I excelled on the cobbles, and as the race wore on, and my confidence grew, I realized that I was dealing with the violent shattering of the påve better then my rivals. Putting it bluntly it was Dave’s sessions and knowledge that gave me this advantage and I would not hesitate to recommend him for anyone with a event on the horizon.