I’m always looking for a product to make indoor training more bearable. Probably like many of you, I ride the trainer only when I can’t get on the road. But hammering on the devil machine is undeniably good training. You can control intensity, climate and duration. Flat tires are rare and unless your pooch takes a liking to nipping at your heels while you pedal, doggie dangers are nonexistent.
Music can blunt the boredom of indoor training, but having a visual stimulus is the most effective way to make the time, well, if not fly at least crawl faster. And if what you’re watching advances your cycling knowledge, so much the better.
That’s where the RealRides “Race Day with Robbie Ventura” DVD shines. Other companies produce training DVDs, usually featuring a coach yelling and a roomful of riders sweating. Not too inspirational. But “Race Day” is what it implies — an elite event (a criterium) filmed with an on-bike camera by longtime roadie Robbie Ventura, formerly of the U.S. Postal Service pro team. Besides capturing the action, Ventura plays an integral part in the race and has time to deliver real-time tips on tactics — even with a heart rate pushing 190 bpm.
As an introduction to criterium racing, this is as good as it gets. Ventura shows how to apportion energy, stay out of trouble, move up through the pack in corners, and keep track of teammates. He discusses — and demonstrates — how to identify dangerous riders and how to corner effectively. Because of the camera’s location, every rear derailleur shift is on screen, demonstrating how much gear changing is necessary even on a fairly flat course.
Most of all, the camera shows how exciting a crit is but also makes it clear that such action-packed racing is within reach of any cyclist who’s willing to learn the proper skills.
I watched the DVD while doing my own interval sessions. But you could certainly “race” with Ventura, cueing your intensity levels to his heart rate displayed on the screen. Just remember to adjust your effort to your personal range. Ventura hits 190, but if your max is 160 don’t try to duplicate his lofty figures.
The same is true if you have a power meter on your bike and try to match Ventura’s wattage. On a screen summary after the race, we are told that he averaged a substantial 330 watts for the 40-minute race. That’s not something the average recreational cyclist is capable of — or should try.
One drawback is the singular nature of the race. Watch it once and you know how it’ll all turn out. But Rick Smith, maestro behind RealRides, says that if this concept is successful he plans to produce a Race Day series. I’m hoping that happens. Five or six different races with accompanying commentary would make indoor training a lot more fun — and educational.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.