Welcome to the first in a series of articles we plan to share with you over the months. We’re going straight to the source – to some of the top coaches and experts in the industry – and tapping into their knowledge and expertise to unearth some great training sessions#. Where better to start than with Orica-AIS and one very tough-as-concrete session from Sport Director, Martin Barras. Good luck…!
Martin Barras, Orica-AIS Sport Director
The Bridging Exercise
One of my very favourite training session is the "The Bridging Exercise" that I first did it as a young beginner in the sport - and yes, that was in a different millennium! I have been using it ever since I did it myself as a rider.
The objective is pretty simple: this exercise is about learning to put yourself on the line, how hard you have to ride and how to pace yourself to bridge a gap from the bunch to an escaping breakaway.
It requires a fair bit of logistics. You need a group of 8-15 riders and a motorbike. Before the ride, all riders are assigned a number, starting with one, then two and so on. The group is to ride a solid pace line. I suggest sub-threshold in the wheels and threshold at the front. The motorbike is riding roughly 200 to 300 metres in front of the group.
Every 1-2 minutes, and in order of the numbers assigned before the ride, a rider jumps from the group and tries to bridge to the motorbike. Once the bridging rider has reached the motorbike, s/he sits on it for a few seconds, then drops back to the pace line and resumes riding in the group.
I normally do three full rotations (each rider bridges three times) in a 30-35 minutes set and do 2 sets per session (with a lengthy break in between). It is easier when done on the flat but we have used it as well on rolling hills.
It is a brutal session but a great one as it elicits the full complement of physical and pacing qualities required from a rider.
And to be honest, as I usually drive the motorbike at the front, I have endless fun messing with the riders!!! Let's say Spratty (Amanda Spratt) is rocketing out of the pace line and bridging very fast to the motorbike. She might find that, as she gets closer to me, the motorbike just seems to go faster and faster. Those last 10 meters to bridge can be a real pain!
But I only do this because I like her! And Spratty, as the true pro she is, never gives up until she has finished the bridge. That's what you really want to see out of that session!
Voila! I hope this inspire you to come up with your own way of tormenting your riders!
This is a training suggestion only. Please consult your coach or GP before undertaking a new training regime.