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simonsaunders's picture
on Mon, 12/05/2014 - 17:12


What is form? There are over 40 definitions of the word in a dictionary, but what does it mean to you? What does it mean to cyclists?

I came to thinking about this yesterday after a conversation about improvement, or lack thereof.

I guess the defintion of form relevant to cyclists would be

 - manner or method of performing something; technique: or indeed

- physical condition or fitness, as for performing:
Who has form here?
So why was I thinking about this? Well we use various different things to gauge how we are riding on at the moment. Mostly I use the tried and tested technique of  "Am i riding faster than X" or "Am I getting any closer to catching Cervelo Dave?" (No- the constant answer) At this time of year it's also useful to try "Can i make it round the chainey- with the group?"
This latter question prompted my recent exercise in futility - the Lone Chainey ride -  and as Andy Disley asked "did I win the sprint?" No, I was beaten by my shadow.....
Strava has made the personal assessment of form a little more interesting, not only can you compare how you compete against everyone else, but more importantly against yourself. Is this just putting numbers to the things you inherently know? Today was a good day, or that you had a day riding like Andy Schleck
Talking of the Schleck, there is a contrast in form- maybe its chemical / comical?
Back on topic- I thought i had been improving of late, but then.... Well, and then i don't. What corresponds to the improvement / decline - the cycling ups and downs if you will. Effort, motivation, desire? Sure, they have an effect. Training, time in the saddle? Definitely.
The biggest indicator for me, aside from "Am i faster than X" is how I fare on hills. This is the great indicator for us all isn't it? I'm not really built as a natural climber (or anything else for that matter) but I like to try. I like the way that we all hit the hill closely together, but within 50-100m liitle splits appear as people settle into their (dis)comfort zone. Some like Charlie Critchley, zoom off the front with an impressive turn of speed I could only dream of, others grind the power away at the back. We all get there in the end, some quicker, some slower. It bothers me that one day I can't keep up with the person I did last month- are they secretly training on hills and not telling anyone? Or did i just eat (or drink) too much last week? Do others have these thoughts as they are gasping for air, or is it just me?
Form cannot continue on an upward trajectory, you cannot improve week on week on week. At some point you plateau and then decline. This is well recognised and you can plan for it and train in periodisation patterns to time your peaks for when it's important. Unless there are things like having to do the ironing or cut the grass, or fix that leak you've been ignoring for weeks.....
So what is the solution to form and holding on to it?
I wish I had the answer. There is a long running joke on about peaking in 6 months
That sounds about right, yes I'll be peaking in 6 months, thats why I couldn't get to the top of Belmont as quickly today.
However, in that next 6 months, before i peak (watch out everyone in November...) I'll keep trying to catch person X and hang on the back end of a Chaingang and watch as Cervelo Dave disappears into the distance. I'll keep turning the pedals and approach cycling in a Tommy Voeckler way
It's what the café stops are all for.


danmon_81's picture

great blog Si...i think about 'form' way more than i used to and i have to check myself occasionally from self deprication (yes thats a pr and not an f lol)....last year, my 1st full year of cycling i peaked around October then the winter came!!!

This year i made an effort to get myself ready for chainey season (a personal goal)...i wanted to hit the tarmac running as best as possible...the problem = everyone else has had a great winter, people are strong, chaineys have been fast!

My goals last year were to get to the end of  chainey with the group, did i manage? yes, once and if you were there you'll rememeber my shouting 'f***kin get in' as it meant a lot.......this year then? to be in the mix a bit more, to lead out some formby by-pass be a stronger chainey rider!

I've come to the conclusion that 93kg of Dan aint ever gonna be good at climbing like Rick 'the power' Taylor but what i have decided is that where i'll show my 'form' will be in other areas...the recovery and pushing on after the climb...the lead out for a sprint....the jump up Greetby Hill on all those who went too early!

So back to 'form' all honesty i dont know what form is for me, i know i'm faster, stronger, on the drops more but i'm always comparing myself to others i ride with and that can be mixed and dangerous. One sunday i'll be pulling on the front of a chainey at the end of a 50mile ride the next week i'll be blowing out my ass 1/3 of the way into the chainey and popping not too long after......

i'm feeling good at this point in the year but to really know my form it has to be the 'purest race' the one were i can measure what i can do against myself....the TT.....................


Or maybe it's all an enigma!!!!!

Chainey tonight anyone!!!!


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