The best season
Plans and goals
After a few years of lukewarm racing, in the autumn of 2019 the idea came to prepare for the next racing season. The ideal point was also the World Championships, albeit in distant Estonia. After years of research and testing, to put myself in the body and put the knowledge into practice. Oh, and to finally shoot the Tour de Green in September, a longer road race on a beautiful surface together with the cyclists.
However, the covid came and the MS was postponed for a year. And so, when we started our team training on January 1 - volumes in the field, we finished the season with the cross cup. I won it for the second time, Lukáš Rákosník was second and Karel Vardan third. At the end of the season I tried Letohrad and Konstantinky to find out that it won't work like that.
The next season the situation repeated itself, the postponement of the World Championships, the road season shrunk to more or less the autumn part and so the plan was clear, to prepare for those 2 months of Rollo League and Road Cup races. Start nice in the field, then tune up and see. The plan worked out pretty well beyond expectations, 2nd overall in the Road Cup and 7th in the Rollo League (4th in category), which was my maximum. As part of completing the races, we successfully tested travelling with the little one.
The race itself is not only about performance, but also tactics and equipment. Last season I tried travelling with family support, we know it can be done. I have tried some training sessions that are time manageable and have benefits. Machine tuned, wheels work, stance awesome. The next step was a guest posting on the Rollo League to Ultima. A chance to ride relays, even the odds a bit in the teams.
The training plan was the same as the previous two winters, first off-road and running, then some longer roads and moving into speed. Due to apartment renovations and lingering illnesses, I didn't start training until February. This led to the decision to do the off-road Etapak and then the Pardubice Wine Country Half Marathon. Etapak with a beautifully spanked first stage after a third place in the prologue, 5th place overall, just like at the Pardubice Cup, where we were treated to a snow blizzard during the race. Everything, as it turned out afterwards, came in handy. In addition, the popular training hundred to the Jizera Mountains, because from home it is constantly rising. And also several times the 45km training circuit, where there are hills, straights, descents, good and terrible asphalt.
Well, let's get up to speed, due to time and space constraints I have a few workouts that I modify as needed:
Houštka circuit 1,1km
5x 1 lap, 7 minutes pause10x finish straight (350m), intermediate pause (possibly 2x5, 3x5)10x start with straight (50m), 5 minutes pause 5x 400m, 7 minutes pauseapyramid 2 laps - 3 laps - 5 laps - 2 laps, 7 minutes pause
cycle path with cyclist
sections in a row 7x 1km - 27km/h-28- 29-30-31-32-33, 7km free, 6km 30km/h, next 1km accelerate to max 6km in 1km increments at speeds 28-30-32-28-30-32, 15 minutes break, 32-30-28-28-30-32
5 and 10km runs
hills and climbs
70cm lunges - 30kg
squats - 70kg
set of exercises for arms, abdomen, back
I can tell that I've been training quite easily at races - regardless of the result. You need a warm-up for proper performance and a trot for recovery. So if I can warm up at races without being tired before the race and still have the strength for the post-race lunge, my preparation is on track. It's not that I'm blowing off the end of the race to have strength left for the lunge, but after 30-40 minutes the body can effectively recover for some more light movement. Trotting is beneficial for continued functioning and definitely makes sense. Especially in multi-day races - which WCH is. We don't quite specialize in one race yet, so everyone does everything in the MS.
The season is here and the last rough preparations for the first round of the Rollo League in Račice. There is a 5km race in Brandýs, pretty good training for the 10km time trial. A week before Racice then a simulation of the whole race weekend. I'm putting on ultra-low time trial handlebars for the time trial, but straight handlebars are back for the long race and relays. 3rd place in the seniors and 4th overall is a new personal best. We win the relay with Ultima and 4th overall and in the seniors in the long race on Sunday. The plan for the long race was to stick with the best, which was successful despite a vigorous selection of the big pack by Tomas Plec. At the finish it was just a matter of guarding the position ahead of Karel Hübner and Martin Kadlec. In the next race we managed to make a team for the Eurocup in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
Due to the afternoon start of the criterium and relays in Gelsenkirchen, we are not leaving for the Eurocup until Saturday morning. We were greeted by a gravel track and completely stiff legs. I couldn't get going, the carbon bottle basket decided not to work and 6 times the bottle left me. Good experience for the next race.
Next weekend is the road cup in Tupadly. And since it's only 12km, I had the idea to complicate it a bit. First in the morning, accompanied by cyclist Ondra Novotny to Kolin, to see the athletics league. Then I'll go alone to Tupadel and do the race there. The weather was good and so Ondra and I managed the first part of the plan, in some places we were going 32km/h. After an hour break I crossed to Tupadel, where it was another less than an hour free. The race itself was on a closed road 2km slightly downhill and 2km slightly uphill, all 3 times. The plan was to go as hard as I could and see when I couldn't. In the first downhill Roman Matyáš went off and Michal Kulka came in at the bottom after a turn. So I went up the climb at my own pace and shook off Jindra Šmíd and Richard Pesek. I even started to get closer to the first pair who were riding together. About 500m before the turn I caught up with them and decided not to wait for anything and to continue at the same pace. Roman caught up, Michal didn't. On the downhill Roman got away again and we made it to the finish. In the end I was glad that we didn't have to finish, my hamstrings were pulling a bit below my knee towards the end.
The national championships in Pilsen was another test on the way to Estonia. After Račice and Germany, it was time to try something again. This time it was a tactic to fool at the beginning and then we will see. There was not much to see, sometimes you got lost in the pack and so it was more of a test of what you can make up in the finish. It's good to be in 3rd-5th place in the pack, which costs a lot of nerves. In the 20-head pack it's so different that you have to work hard not to fall back. In the criterium and in the finish I fell a bit asleep and although I made up a lot of ground, it was just the end of the top 10. In the long race, I planned to watch my position in the pack after another tricked out start, test my rivals three laps from the end, and ride the last lap. The race plan worked out, resulting in 5th place overall. In the bunch sprint I was only able to keep up with Lada Mandelík, who fired a bit earlier and although I was pulling him back, I didn't make it. Well, the plan of the whole weekend worked out even better, I found out how much you can fool the beginning. Twice in a row. The relay didn't go so well this time, three laps for everyone in one go wasn't done and we were left with a potato.
In Pilsen we agreed to have a last small training together. Training with someone is always much more beneficial than chasing alone and it was a day well spent at Lopatarna. In the days that followed before I left for Estonia, I made personal bests on the training tracks and sections, which was a good sign.
Two days before departure, Hannes Stöckl arrived from Austria and we did the last training sessions together. We were heading to Estonia with two cars together, with an overnight stay in Riga. And while the others went for sightseeing or dinner, I went to the park to stretch my legs after my experience in the German Eurocup.
The tactics for Friday's sprints were clear, warm up, warm down, don't wear anything out. At the same time, I know that sprints are a good warm-up before other disciplines. But I also found out that it is good to get some mileage in, and in Friday's sprints with warm-up and trotting I moved some 22km. But first things first.
20 minutes of trotting, running alphabet, straights and scooter starts and it's on to qualifying. It's in a nice athletics stadium with a 400m track. The qualifying lap feels kind of unkempt, but that it's pretty cool. The surprise then was the 2nd time overall. In the sprint, the dominance of Czech colours is even greater, some experienced matadors are saving themselves for longer distances.
In the quarter-finals and semi-finals I try other tracks and work on different parts of the course - given the qualifying time I could afford it. One time I'll work in the corners, the other time in the straights.
In the senior final we have 4 Czech riders, Roman Matyáš is obvious, I'm a little nervous about Tomáš Pelec, the time looked good, but the final is the final. From the start there is no reason to save my strength and I try to catch up to Tomáš, riding in the third lane. We enter the home straight side by side and cross the finish line the same way. The photo finish decided my silver by 0.001s. In the sprints, junior Tomas Sedlar, who rides the top three, did his own race and here he was right behind Roman in time as well.
A nice boost to start the MS program, especially after the evening welcome from Alp Kuusisto: ,,You are f....ng fast!" (you're damn fast!), before he even greeted me. He skipped Friday's sprints, but watched online on the train. We definitely had to count on him for the next races.
Scouting the criterium course, it was clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with the best on the opening climb. And since I wasn't feeling up to the pack, the plan was to finish the rest as a solo time trial. After the start it really wasn't for the best and so I continued on alone, in places a few metres ahead of the pack. On the penultimate lap I was passed by Alpo Kuusisto with Honza Ondruska, but on the last climb of the last lap I replaced Honza on Alpo's back wheel. Alpo didn't know that, so he couldn't react to the moment of surprise when I immediately got on the flat after the climb. I was 5th overall, 4th in the category behind Tomas Plec, Roman Matyas and Kai Imonen.
After the criterium we had the relays, we split into 3 relays - the obvious A relay - two Tomášs and Roman. Me with master Petr Pesta and Lada Mandelík in the second one, which had to fight with the third one from the young rifles. Our opponents were Finns, the others didn't have so many quality people. It was 20 minutes and one round. After the start, the Czech team was in front, followed by the Finnish team, and we were fighting for third place with the Czech youngsters. After a few changes and patient waiting, we passed the youngsters and even slightly pulled the Finns riding in second place. We didn't catch them, there was no time for that. Gold and bronze for the Czech colours, plus 4th place.
The long race was already marked by slight fatigue. 7km long circuit with everything that belongs to the race - a steep exit, gradual climb, straights, technical descents and straight descents. Tactics as always - with the first ones as good as possible and then we'll see. The first one got away from me in the first part of the circuit and so I finished it alone. On the gradual descent to the cili, a pack caught me and it was clear that this descent favoured the heavier riders and groups. It looked good on the climbs, and on the straights too, so I tried to keep a good position and enter the technical parts safely from first place. On the second lap it started to rain heavily and experience told me that I would freeze and not get anywhere. I was pulled out of my troublesome thoughts by Alp's entrance, who got tired of dodging dangerously moving individuals in the group. So we continued riding alone, and occasionally someone caught up with us, only to fall off again. Between us we knew what and how, so any accidental escape was impossible. Honza Ondruška caught us and we caught Roman Matyáš in the last lap. But then we missed Alpo again. I tried to work the climbs, but on the straights it was no use for Roman and he clearly got away on the long downhill. By the spurt I was confident in Honza and I finished 3rd in the seniors and 4th overall. What we didn't know was that Kai Immonen withdrew from the front of the race due to a muscle injury.
I achieved my goal for the season, I managed to fine-tune my form for the most important race. Placing was an extra bonus, I was counting on a top ten finish, possibly as a bonus to 5th place. One such medal outside of scoring was the praise from Hannu Vierikk, who praised the technique at every meet and said I reminded him of his youth. I don't think he wore a beard, but I'm getting ready to sport one too.
The end of the season
After our return, we were waiting for Eurocup and Rollo League in Lipník nad Bečvou, with the sprint race on Friday as the Czech Republic Championship. And of course the relays. After the World Championships I added as a goal to finish the Rollo League and Eurocup within the limits of my possibilities, after all the start of the season was successful and nice overall rankings in these series were still in play.
Friday's sprints were in a similar mode as in Estonia, this time I defended my second place ahead of Tomas Pec with a bigger lead. In the Czech Republic Championships junior Tomas Sedlar got ahead of me with his time and it was 3rd place for me.
Criterium in the city again with the intention of keeping up with the best. It went a few laps, then a very large group caught up with me. For this case I wanted to try to ride the finish for the whole lap, which was about 1km. There was a point on the course where I was gaining significantly - I had a higher speed after the first turn, and was able to gain easy extra metres there thanks to my sprinting skills. I moved forward on the penultimate lap and went for it on the run into the last lap. I held the position and finished 3rd in the seniors, 4th overall.
The subsequent relays were on a shortened criterium circuit. The course of the relays could not have been more dramatic. After the first rotations, 5 relays battled it out for the top spots. We then had a bad handover and after a carom we were in 5th place. In the next run, a competitor from Pilsen fell from the first place and withdrew in the next handover due to injury. We slowly worked our way forward and took the top spot with two laps to go. But it took a lot of strength.
The tactics for the long race were a bit more open, the hills could be an advantage. That is, until we discovered that the route had changed in the morning. Almost flat, two turns, strong winds. After the first lap I completely ran out of energy and backed out of the classic front group, which was completed by Honza Ondruska. I had the feeling that it just wasn't going to work anymore. Then I tried to stay in the pack, especially safely. This time it was just a short finish. Half a lap before the finish I suddenly found myself in front and nobody was anywhere. I didn't feel like finishing so I just kept my speed up. I was caught up again and after a while I committed to a finish which led me to 3rd place in the seniors again and this time 5th overall.
The empty tank feeling from the long race didn't let me go for the rest of the season, plus health problems and various aches and pains.
It was a nice race in Salzburg, however, winning the sprints, the relay and the second place in the long, again wet race, which was also marked by stomach discomfort. We had planned to go into the breakaway with Tomáš Pelc, but at any acceleration my stomach became distended. So Tomas rode alone. I kept my pace even uphill, and this was becoming increasingly difficult for the rest of our group. We were swimming a bit in lap counts, so at one point I thought I'd try to pass on the hill. Only Lada Mandelík held on and it turned out to be the penultimate lap. So we rode the last one together and it was second place at the finish. Stomach discomfort also appeared during the first 20km of the subsequent Zeleňák - a road race I had been planning for a long time, but it still didn't work out on time. Awesome route and surface but the unpleasant experience overcame.
Successful races from last season in Letohrad and Konstantinovy lázně were marred by health problems a week before the race itself, when I could not train properly. The races were very painful and felt on my body and soul for several days. It was also clear that both Letohrad and Konstantin Spa needed a more specific tune-up, last year I was much better from the specialized training than this way at the end of a long season.
I'm enjoying Letohrad and was confident of a nice result. Technical course, relatively short hills, earlier starts were always worth it. Moreover, Roman Matyáš and Tomas Plec did not start. However, it was not the same in the time trial and the training deficit was not only visible in the heart rate. In the overall standings it was the end of the top ten and I didn't have rosy prospects for Sunday either. After the start Tomáš Sedlář passed, followed by Radek Maixner and Láďa Mandelík. When we caught up with one rider a lap behind, the corner went so badly that Radek passed us and we couldn't catch him. Then Lada and I raced to see who was worse off, until the next group caught up with us. It was two laps to the finish and I decided to work harder. This worked out a bit and I improved my taste with 4th place overall and 1st place in the seniors for the first time.
There is one corner in Konstantinky and it is possible to pass it without braking. But if someone gets in front of you and brakes through the corner, suddenly you have an axe that is hard to finish. If the situation repeats itself for several laps, by the final climb you're struggling. Of course you can avoid this before the corner, but there is a gradual downhill where the more powerful/aerodynamic have the advantage. Yes, this can also be avoided by getting in before the downhill. So one botched boarding also means several places in the order, if you're going for it. And you don't always need to catch up after a corner you've missed. But you don't know when you need to make a proper entry 800m before the actual corner. So it's good to be clear before the start how I want to ride and how I feel. Know your rivals and, most importantly, your options. Waiting to see how things turn out is not exactly a guarantee of success, at least not when physical strengths are equal.
Constants are specific in their speed, if you want to succeed you have to work even downhill, you are almost always moving over 30km/h. I managed to lock my back before the start of the long race, which didn't add to my well-being - it got its hit already knowing that my legs and lungs were out of whack from training. The back warmer did work a bit, but I guess my body was saving itself anyway, and it took me a long time to get into at least a somewhat usable state after finishing. In Sunday's criterium, despite the necessary magnesium, the cramps came from the middle of the race, so then I was just moving on the border of bitten calves.
The end of the Eurocup in Bibione was full of worries, because the training didn't go well again. But the beautiful city criterium was a success. I stayed at the front for half the race thanks to the merciful pace of the best riders, and we lost the others in the pace with occasional surges. I then rode the second half of the race in time trial mode for 4th place. In the long race the scenario was similar, this time the training deficit came to me with two laps to go and it was 6th overall.
It was a ride. No, it wasn't. The numbers worked out like this:
707.5 racing kilometres in 34 races.
2115 training kilometres in 87 activities
186.5 kilometres run in 32 activities
9500 kilometres in the car
Most of the courses I completed were not new, but by completing them, even if only partially, in the front group, they showed themselves in a different light. It wasn't about just going faster, but about going somewhere else and doing things differently. And those little things then make a difference to others, maybe in the pack. They help when you're in a group and you want to tighten it up for the final finish. They can help when you're catching up or trying to hold on. A race doesn't have to be about the start and the finish. A race is what you make it.
We try to promote certain attitudes, ideas and principles. All of this has been confirmed, fine-tuned, pushed forward. He knows the difference between trips and races. And it doesn't mean the lightest scooter, the strongest frame, the fastest wheels. Everyone needs their own thing and it's important to know what you expect from yourself. Even with a racing season like this at full throttle, or the earlier cruise ones, we can help you navigate not only the choice of scooter, but more importantly its setup and fit.