Get Your (scooter) Motor Runnin’

We always seem to have one pro cyclist who lives in the area. Years ago it was Sebastien Chavanel, whose wheel I tried unsuccessfully to hang onto 10 years ago.

These days it’s Alexis Gougeard, until recently of AG2R Citroen, but now riding for B&B Hotels.

The other day I was out for a couple of hours and Alexis passed me going the other way near the unpronounceable village of Poulx. How did I know it was him, or even a pro?

  1. I follow him on Strava.
  2. If you’ve ever seen a pro in real life, you just know.
  3. He was following a scooter.
Like this

This is called ‘motor pacing’ and I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that most riders who do this type of training are pros. And since this is not something I think I’ll ever do, I’ve never put much thought into why it’s done. I guessed (correctly, amazingly) that it was mainly a technique to allow the rider to feel what it’s like to sustain very high speeds for long periods, i.e. what it’s like to ride in a peloton. It turns out that it’s that and much more, which this handy podcast illustrates nicely. Apart from ‘riding fast’, motor pacing helps you:

  • Practice attacking the group at high speeds, e.g. attempting to get into a breakaway or sprinting
  • Simulate riding in wind because ‘staying in the pocket’ is all important in an echelon
  • Train leg speed (cadence) because the draft you get from the scooter means torque is low and you can spin

I’d say don’t try this at home. For me, I’ve got John to motorpace behind, so I’m good.

14 thoughts on “Get Your (scooter) Motor Runnin’

  1. I used to unintentionally ’motor’ pace behind a friend who used to do amateur racing and time trialling in his younger days. I would try to reciprocate but it was easier to let him carry on.

  2. Surely the only legitimate reason for motor pacing is to smash some Strava KOMs! 😂 There used to be a couple of pros where I used to live that motor paced early in the morning. Man they crank up the speed! I’ve only properly done it once in an organised event where the motorcycle rider knew I was up for it, but have tucked in and drafted a quite a few vehicles in my time (that’s not quite as safe of course).

  3. Back in Nice and again while walking along the prom I heard an English speaker fast approaching on a bike. Full Israeli start up nation gear on a Factor bike. Unfortunately it was the guy all in black who was speaking so not sure who the ISN guy was although I’d probably recognise Froome’s voice. Always a thrill to see these pros out in the wild.

    • Did you catch a Canadian accent? I think I read that Israel Premier Tech (It’s New Name season!) has all the Canadians in the pro peloton (Antoine Duschene being the hold out). Could that be true?

      Enjoy Nice. I hope you’re not getting the wind we are this week.

      • Just did my first flat outdoor ride in months. And someone passed me with a back pack! The wind is my excuse!! Thanks. Could have been French Canadian speaking English but was in black gear. The other was thin tallish in team kit.

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