Motorpacing, the practice of a single or group of cyclists drafting a motorized vehicle, such as a car, motorcycle, or scooter. It's a great way to simulate the high speeds and varying paces of a race in addition to allowing a coach to have a more hands on interaction with his riders during their training. For this Saturdays ride I joined up with team Eckwersheim again. They brought about 20 of their riders and the team coach, who was in their team car (I know, what?).
So, needless to say, it was pretty badass. We met the coach out near a little commercial area that was pretty light use. For our main workout we were going to ride a ~5km loop with him motorpacing us from the team car. Well, a recurring theme with my experiences with the Euro cyclists is that nothing is ever that simple. The ride evolved very much like a race. From the start we were tucked behind the car going nearly 40km/h (25mph) and the pace rarely dipped below there. On one particularly open flat stretch of the road, that brutal pace was matched with a strong headwind so if I got even slightly out of the draft I could feel myself being torn away from the group. The challenge wasn't in staying inside the constantly rotating echelons on the flats though, but keeping the bunch together out of the turns. Our route cornered through a couple of round abouts where the pace car would shoot out like a criterium racer. Pummeling winds were followed by explosive sprints in a constant battle to keep in the group behind the car.
There would be no respite though and the pace just got faster and faster. Eventually, coming around a corner, I couldn't grab back on and got spat out the back. Fortunately I wasn't the only one who got dropped, so me and another team mate trucked on along the loop, waiting for the car to come back around. After a few minutes we I could see it coming around a corner and down a long straightaway toward us. We built up speed, preparing to jump onto the back of the pack. I gritted my teeth with the effort as the group thundered along side of us. Like jumping onto a freight train, I hurled myself up and into the draft. But the pace continued to quicken and my legs were considerably drained. After a few more minutes of sprints and turns the team car unforgivingly rolled over my legs. Metaphorically speaking. That is to so, I felt like my guns had been crushed and I simply could not hang on any longer.
As the train thundered away down the tracks I was actually relieved to see a dozen or so riders – more than half the group – scattered around the road within a kilometer or so of me. The sight of others alone or in small groups around the loop told me I wasn't the only one who's legs had given out on them. It wasn't long after that point that we all regrouped back together and rode the loop a couple more times at a well earned relaxed pace. I talked with some of the other guys about are high intensity workout.
"Yeah, it was fast," a team member said to me, "I've never done that before."
Oh yeah? For some reason I had assumed this was the reg, but it was some great threshold work either way. The rest of the day was pretty moderate riding around the area and then back into town. Overall, it was a great day for cycling: forging new friendships and elite fitness. That's what I do.
Team Eckwersheim, lookin' Pro