When the evenings start to get brighter from mid-April and Members are generally turning up the intensity of their training, the Chain-gang training ride will be a key part of most riders schedules on a Thursday evening.
Thursday has been chosen as to best fit between Tuesday night TT’s and weekend racing/training rides. The rides will involve a 15 minute warm up followed by up to an hour of group riding at speed. The rules of the chain gang are harsh but fair. If you’re dropped or have a simple puncture it is up to you to find your own way home, if you crash, are ill or have a serious mechanical the group will stop.
For those of you not familiar with the Chain-gang style or riding, it can best be described as a road version of a team pursuit or a team time trial. Each rider takes a short turn riding on the front and then moves to the back and takes shelter from the wind. Riding this way enables the group to travel faster than as an individual and also practices skills needed for road/circuit racing. Newbies are always welcome and guidance will be given to them to help learn the discipline. Club Members who have enjoyed the chain-gang sessions in previous years have certainly noticed an improvement to their skills and fitness over the summer.
There are, however ways in which different abilities are catered for in a chain-gang, the stronger riders will take longer turns at the front. Depending on the riders that turn up for each session, the initial training rides will be running at around 20MPH and in a month or so towards 22-23MPH. If numbers are high, the group splits into smaller pelotons to avoid being a hazard to other road users. In such cases the fitness of riders is matched as best as possible.
The through-and-off format of the chain-gang has been put into practice a number of times in Club training rides and those that ride on the track are well experienced in this discipline as are cyclist who ride 2-up time trials.
The first few sessions each year are ridden as training rides so everybody can practice the discipline and become familiar with the course. More experienced rides are invited to join the sessions and help improve the quality of the group with their experience.
These rides will require a high level of discipline so please read below what is expected of you:
What to bring:
- Road bike, riding on tri bars and being late on the brakes will not be appreciated by other riders. Remember you are responsible for your safety and those around you.
- Tubes / pump / multi tool. If you puncture, hard luck. You are responsible for your own repairs.
- Mobile phone. If you have a serious problem please call ride leader. If you drop off please text ride leader so we don’t have to turn back fearing the worst.
- Lights / reflective clothing. We will be out near dusk on the early rides.
- Money, some rides may finish at local pubs.
- Drink / energy food.
Do’s and Dont’s
- Be aware that everything you do has a knock-on effect on everyone behind and beside you. If you brake out of turn this will have a concertina effect and disrupt the whole group.
- Never half wheel. When you hit the front, keep the pace consistent, if climbing keep the effort consistent.
- When you come through for your turn and move over to the recovering line, do so smoothly and close to the rider you are taking over from. Don’t leave them with a massive gap.
- Don’t leave gaps. If you are struggling to close a gap, wave the rider behind you through.
- Don’t nail yourself trying to do super-hard turns if the pace is above what you are capable of or you know you are tiring. If you start to get dropped, the group will have to slow down to look after you, or in some cases you will be dropped. Or you may be able to follow the group whilst you recover.
- Show your respect for other cyclists and the drivers with whom we share the road. Remember we represent cycling in the New Forest and want to enhance the reputation of cyclists not hinder it.
- If you need to spit, makes sure you’re at the back of the line!
Over the years, we have realised that having one course that we all knew well worked best. So the meeting point is outside St Saviours Church in Brockenhurst each week. The ride will start promptly without a warm up so please ensure you are warmed-up and ready to ride at prescribed start time.
The course runs anti-clockwise starting Rhinefield Road to the A35, then ride easy and single file to the Burley turning on Forest Road, re-start at the top of the first rise and continue to the Queens Head in the middle of Burley Village, re-group at the top of the hill by Burley Cricket Club and then continue to finish back at Brockenhurst.
Navigation of the pinch points between Hincheslea and Brockenhurst is taken with great care but hopefully at the time of the session, the roads will have quietened down. It is the responsibility of anybody riding on the front at this point to try and anticipate well in advance whether we press on or ease off.
The early rides start at 1830 and as daylight improved move to 1845 / 1900. Details each week will be posted at on the training blog as will any cancellations for bad weather, which can be found here.