Rider reinvention is something that takes place for a variety of different reasons. Famously Cadel Evans reinvented from being a world class mountain biker to Tour de France champion. Luke Mudgway has successfully gone from track prodigy to success on the UCI America Tour. So what goes into it? We asked Spoken Coaching’s Blair Taylor.
You see riders doing it to some degree very frequently. Riders like Rushlee Buchanan evolve from road to track and back again every year, juggling commitments with her top flight UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team alongside her National Track Endurance team commitments. One of the more dramatic transitions within cycling was the evolution of Theo Bos, the Dutch multiple world sprint cycling champion who went from being one of the world’s fastest track sprinters to a career on the road.
Reinvention on two wheels can take one of any number of forms and Spoken Coaching’s Blair Taylor has borne witness to riders reinventing themselves, and we wanted to know what kind of challenges riders face when considering reinvention. “For me, when I’m looking at an athlete who’s got a change of goals, it’s really about looking at their programme and what they’ve been doing,” Taylor told RoadCycling.
“Obviously if it’s a track rider going to the road, most track riders are a little bit heavier, and if you want to be a good road rider generally you’ve got to be a little bit lighter. So, for one thing there’s your diet, looking at what you’re doing there; and generally the volume of training increases quite a lot. Then the different style of efforts, so a lot more longer tempo efforts. And it takes a long time to adapt as well.”
The examples of two of New Zealand’s finest figures on mountain biking wheels is one clear example of the potential for cycling to be more of a complimentary environment to becoming a new type of rider than the jump between other sports. While road, track, mountain biking and cyclocross all have their own unique traits; there remain threads common to each that can make jumping between them not as tough and difficult as one might think.
“They all cross over nicely, anything to mountain biking. In mountain biking you see the likes of Sam Gaze and Anton [Cooper], they’re very technically skilled riders and they can ride a criterium very well. Sam’s obviously got a lot of power on the road for sprints, and I’m sure if he concentrated he could go really well on the track; but I’d love to see a track rider ride a mountain bike as well as him!” Taylor said.
So for those thinking of taking on the challenge of ‘rider regeneration’ the complimentary cross over factor makes it sound achievable; but there’s one big hurdle to jump if recreating oneself on the bike is to become a reality. And it’s a hurdle Taylor’s very clear about. “It’s commitment. We’ve got an athlete we’re working with at the moment and he’s committed 110%, and he’s got some big goals but it’s now been 14-15 months and he’s doing really well and he’s achieving those goals; and he’s got some bigger goals,” Blair explained.
“But he’s laid it on the line, he’s been training 20-25 hours a week pretty consistently. He was an individual pursuit rider, and now he’s climbing up some big mountains with some of the best climbers in America.”
“It’s pretty cool to see what can be done and it’s really about putting your mind to it and committing to it 100%.”
“Cycling’s one of those things where talent is key but it’s the guys who just lay it down week after week after week, and are consistent, and train, and follow the programme; they’re the guys who really achieve.”
“I’ve seen it with lots of kids and lots of athletes that we coach. It’s the ones who give it 100% who come out on top eventually.”
For more information on Blair and the team at Spoken Coaching click here.