Intervals. The idea is to ride at 80% for 40 seconds. Then 20 seconds off. 10 times. For 3 sets. Oh, and there’s sprint intervals if you want to mix it up too: roll down, race up, repeat!
That’s the idea. Crazy as it sounds it is very rewarding, just not right now. Rupert joins us and so does Liz. We roll around for a lap and catch up, before organising ourselves ready for a brutal breakfast. In reality, we’re all working to our own limits and the 5mins rest between each set will inevitably bring us together again.
We do two-thirds of the first set and we’re already feeling sick. I feel like I’m giving it everything and not just 80%. Although, if that were true, I wouldn’t be able to remember all of this. Ben settles us with his calming voice, and for some inexplicable reason, we mix it up with some sprints. Va Va Vooooooom! Ben gets away before I can even get out of the saddle. We have a go at it seven times. Each and every time Ben buries me. I’ve got a long way to go, but am enjoying every waking moment of this. I’m learning.
We get back into our pack and Liz is pedalling smoothly. She’s come a long way since injury and it doesn’t escape us that she’s keeping up and smiling. This is too easy for her!
Ben and I give the program another shot. He wins again, but this time he’s in agony; feeling the lactic creep up the legs. He doubles-up over his handle bars as if he wants to use it as a pillow. I roll around scratching my head in disbelief – what am I doing wrong?! I’ve got a lot of training and technique to get under my belt, but something tells me that Ben is simply too good to beat. Rupert is powering along and getting his PB’s into order. It’s all this effortful training that will be worth it come the summer.
We do the final laps at tempo before saying farewell. Intervals have come to an end. Liz isn’t giving too much away, but it’s done her good. Rupert has braved two consecutive weeks of this insanity, but he’s still talking to us. He gives us a wave as he peels off, satisfied. As we part company I thank Ben for putting this all together. It’s not quite the breakfast experience I’m used to, but I think I’m liking it already.
Ben is silent. I think he’s just given it his all.
‘I’D RATHER FINISH SHATTERED AND LAST HAVING ATTACKED A HUNDRED TIMES THAN FINISH 25TH WITHOUT HAVING TRIED.’
“I’M NOT A REVOLUTIONARY OF ANY SORT, BUT ON THE BIKE, I’VE ALWAYS REFUSED TO COME OUT OF A MOULD. IT ASTONISHES ME THAT MOST RIDERS ARE FOLLOWERS, EVEN SHEEP. A LOT OF THEM, THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEY’RE IN THE TOUR ARE THEIR DIRECTEURS SPORTIFS. I COULDN’T DO THE JOB LIKE THAT. THEY FINISH THE TOUR WITHOUT HAVING ATTACKED ONCE, MAYBE THE WHOLE OF THE SEASON, EVEN THE WHOLE OF THEIR CAREER. I’D RATHER FINISH SHATTERED AND LAST HAVING ATTACKED A HUNDRED TIMES THAN FINISH 25TH WITHOUT HAVING TRIED. YES, I GET RAGGED ABOUT IT, BUT IT’S ALWAYS IN A FRIENDLY WAY. IN THE BUNCH, THE GUYS KNOW THAT DUDU IS AS LIKELY TO FINISH A LONG WAY BEHIND THEM, AS FIRST.”
JACKY DURAND, L’Equipe 14, July 2000