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?
- I follow him on Strava.
- If you’ve ever seen a pro in real life, you just know.
- He was following a scooter.
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.