One of my favorite YouTube movies out recently “Shit Cyclists Say” has many a classic line. One of my favorites is the “I’m not a sprinter” and “I’m not a climber” exchange. From day one, racers seem to put themselves in one category or another. When I raced in TX, I did not consider myself a sprinter necessarily, but more of an all around bike racer. I even led the KOM season points for ½ a season as a 3 once. But that was before I moved to Boulder and met the “Real” climbers. I was used to the short power climbs of TX and never had to try and stay with a 140 lb. guy going up a 30+ minute climb. So after getting introduced to Drop City on the longer climbs, I became a sprinter. I had always had a good sprint, but I had to really work to learn what kind of sprinter I am, how to take advantage of my strengths, and how to work as a team to win.
A good cycling coach should be wary of these challenges and make sure to understand how to best position you for the win. In most races, even hill climbs, having a jump in your arsenal is important. So I believe in sprint training year round for all my athletes, no matter what level of rider or type of rider. Accelerating your bike quickly is simply a critical component of all bike racing, save time trials. Additionally, the strength added in the winter is easily built on as you move through the season. Sprint training isn’t always hopping into your 53×11 for 30 seconds, but should include high speed efforts, form sprints, 80% efforts, leg strength, etc. Working this in year round can have huge benefits come spring and summer racing. Plus you will never lose that edge that helps you beat your buddy on that random city line sprint mid Feb.