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"Chasers" - Group Training Game

  • Posted on
  • By Rick Sorenson
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"Chasers" - Group Training Game

A workout simulating being in a race/paceline breakaway.


I had a friend who once told me the some of the hardest on the bike work he ever did involved being in a race/paceline breakaway. 
So what better than to create a workout simulating this?
That is how chasers came to be.

(My team called these chasers because there were groups chasing each other around a 3 mile loop. You won't be chasing anybody, but the name has stuck.)

Basically, chasers involve a small group of riders simulating a race breakaway. You need at least two, but not more than 4. 

In a real break you may sit on or only take occasional pulls depending on strategy or legs.
Not so with chasers.
All the riders are going to take timed pulls. One rider will keep track of the time and call out the change when it is time to rotate through. The time segments vary:
1 minute
30 seconds
15 seconds.
(If you only have two riders, the 15 second pulls are not used as you would spend the whole time just going up and back)
15's work well with 3/4 riders to simulate quick paceline changes and a pretty intense short push. 
By design, the point is your effort for 15 seconds is going to be different from 30 seconds or 1 minute, particularly because you know exactly how long you are going to pull.
This is critical-The main point of chasers is you are trying to drive the group, but you are not trying to drop anyone. You want this race break to get to the line intact. This does not mean you are going to measure your pull so no one gets dropped. 
Oh no.
It means measuring your pull and managing your recovery so YOU don't get dropped. Just like you would IRL.
This means everyone in the paceline better be paying attention. This workout, done correctly, is intense. You take hard pulls for a set time, but when you pull over your work is not done.
You better be making sure you are getting the best draft for the best recovery possible, because your turn is coming. And soon.

This is REALLY important.
 Learning, and concentrating on getting the best draft to ensure maximum recovery is not a given skillset. It takes time, and it takes focus. Get sloppy with your draft and you are putting yourself behind the 8-ball for your pull, and this is not like a real break that you can sit on. When it is your time, you pull.
 You are walking a fine line. Just like you would be in a real race. It is not easy. Chasers help your engine, with straight up hard interval work, but mentally give you a workout as well. You are measuring the effort of your timed pull, then paying close attention to getting the best draft possible, and that takes work to do correctly.
Couple of points regarding the best draft possible, and these apply to any paceline situation:

When you come off your pull, do not just swing over, stop pedaling and drop to the back like a stone. Inexperienced riders do this. Heck experienced riders do this who just don't know better.
Let some force off the pedals and slowly slide down the line, and then move onto the last wheel as it comes by. Don't let a gap form. Keep the group as tight as possible, up and back.
And hey, where is the wind coming from? Pay attention. 
Don't get sloppy!
Sloppy is inefficient.
Inefficient means you are burning gas unnecessarily, and that will come back to haunt you.
As a side note, if there is some crosswind, make sure no one is getting ridden into the gutter.
That is a devious skill for another day.    
Also, this workout is best done on a flat road. No sense complicating things with hills.
Typically, I run a chaser block for about 30 minutes. It needs to be hard. It does not need to be death defying.
As for the timed pulls:
1-minute: Knowing you have one minute in the hot seat, allows you to measure your effort. 1 minute is long enough to have to figure out how to measure it, not short enough to just blast it, but long enough you need to pace yourself. One solid effort for 1 minute. No surges.
Thirty seconds: Same as a minute but now you can push a little harder knowing only 30 seconds to go. Again, no surges.
15 seconds(3 to 4 man groups only) Now you can really push for 15 seconds and the effort and intensity ramps up in the group, because all the riders are blowing and going up and back. This would be the type of real world effort in a race break maybe towards the very end when the field is bearing down on you and it is full gas and a bit crazy.
So there you have it. 
 A workout that ticks a lot of boxes, mentally, and physically. 
Have fun.


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