Saturday, June 18, 2011

Have Moto...Will Pace!

What is motorpacing?  It's a cycling training method whereby a rider (on a bike) drafts behind a moto (usually a scooter) at race pace.

Why motorpace? The real benefit of motor pacing lies in its ability to simulate the stochastic nature of racing with variable power outputs. i.e. coasting, accelerating, and constant power.

Now that I have a moto..I'll be motor pacing some of the elite athletes I coach- and/or their friends.  Why only the elite athletes?  Because motor pacing is dangerous, and the last thing I want is a newbie rider running into the back of my moto and falling.  You touch the wheel of the back of a moto going 30-40 mph and you aint going to look pretty when you EVENTUALLY get up.  It takes a lot of practice/coordination between the moto driver and the drafting rider to be safe.  I have never paced a rider behind a moto before, only a car which is MORE dangerous, but I do know what it takes to do it safely and effectively.  Ideally, it's best to draft a scooter because it's easier to accelerate a scooter slowly without pulling away from the drafting rider too quickly.  Most larger motorcycles' throttle is NOT sensitive enough to make gradual accelerations.  Plus, it's hard to tell how fast you're going on a motorcycle when the speed increments on the speedometer are in 5 mph increments. (That is why I use a GPS on my moto with tenths of a mph increments)  Having said all this, I believe I can safely and effectively motor pace anyone behind my motorcycle.

One of the keys to motorpacing safely is choosing a route void of traffic and void of obstacles on the road.  As a rider, the last thing you want to do is hit an obstacle at speed. (obstacle=branch, rock, pothole, rut, roadkill, etc.)  Plus, last time I checked, motor pacing is NOT legal in any state- for obvious reasons.  Another key to motorpacing safely is good communications between the moto and the drafting rider.  When I've paced riders in the past with a car, I always had a radio on the rider and in the car.  I also had signals on the car letting the rider know when I had to pull off the road or accelerate for an approaching car from behind.
I don't believe in rollers on the back of a moto.  Why?  I don't want a rider that close to my back tire to begin with.  Trust me, you can get an effective draft from a moto at 30 mph from 3-5 ft. behind.  Plus, no need to intoxicate the rider with the exhaust fumes from the tailpipe.  Besides, you touch the side bracket of a roller and you'll go down regardless.

There are basically four different workouts I use when motorpacing: 1) where the rider drafts at a constant speed (say 30+ mph) for up to an hour 2) what I call interval pop-outs, where the rider pops-out from behind the moto (for specific time intervals) into the clean air then back behind the moto 3) interval acclerations..where the moto SLOWLY accelerates until the rider can no longer hang in the draft and 4) a mix of all three.  These workouts replicate actual road race and/or criterium conditions.  That is the whole purpose of motorpacing.  It's all about specificity of training.  I believe that specificity is the MOST IMPORTANT principle of training.  A good time to motor pace an athlete is a month prior to their "A" event.  It's a good "peak" or "top-form" workout.  Plus, it will keep the athlete motivated while training hard.  And, make no mistake about it..although these workouts are fun for for least when I did them they were..they are VERY HARD!  When done correctly, you'll feel like you finished one of your toughest races.

If you'd like to motor pace, and you're an elite athlete that races, and are a Cat 1-4 racer, email me ( ) and we'll setup an appointment.  I already have two athletes that are interested.  I like to motor pace on flat rolling open roads in NJ and PA.  The roads are clear of debris and have a wide shoulder where I can pull over in the event of an overtaking car.  I also like to motor pace early Sunday morning when there are fewer cars on the road.  I charge $40 for an hour session.  You can split that time with a buddy, 1/2 hr. each, or use it up yourself.  Personally, I think 1 hr. per person is ideal...since that's what an average road race runs.  If you want me to video you, I can do that too for an extra fee.  I'll just mount my GoPro HD Cam from the back of the moto.  It's a good way to check how aero you are in the drops.

Sorry, but you'll have to sign a release form from me BEFORE you motopace so you know the risks/danger involved in this type of training.  I'll also give you a FREE trial run out on the road before we actually start the motopacing workout session to see if we are BOTH comfortable with each other.  We'll work at slower speeds to begin with and work our way up from there to your normal race pace speeds. 

For me, it's always SAFETY FIRST!

Power ON! Coach Rob

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