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Katie Archibald’s Go-To Turbo Session and Tips for Track Beginners

We spoke to the European Individual Pursuit, Team Pursuit and Elimination Race Champion to get her advice for little old us...

With the Rio Olympic Games marching closer and closer, we were thrilled to grab a few minutes to chat to GB Team Pursuit rider Katie Archibald at the launch of the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club which will support her road team – Podium Ambition.

The unique initiative will see amateur riders (like you and me, dear reader) ride and race in the same colours as the team which turns UCI pro for 2016 and will be shooting for a place at the UCI World Team Time Trial.

Speaking about the concept, which Archibald said would create a community that was welcoming to all, she commented: “I feel proud to be in this family that’s created it. It’s classic Sarah [Dame Sarah Storey, Team Manager alongside husband Barney]. She’s a really fierce competitor, really to the point. But she’s still got this intrinsic desire to change the bloody world! The club is all about supporting riders from all disciplines at all levels.”

Read More: Dame Sarah Storey: Podium Ambition Sister Club to Fund Team & Encourage Participation

The Cycling Club will help to provide a platform for riders – male and female – to race time trials, cyclocross, mountain bike or the track representing Boot Out Breast Cancer. Riders could be of any ability, just earning their stripes, or winning local leagues.

I had to ask Archibald for her top advice for a beginner getting into the track – a growing audience I notice, with a large number of my cycling buddies (and myself!) currently thinking about, mid-way through, or just having completed accreditation at various velodromes. She has three top tips for us all – and actually the first and last would certainly apply to riders of any discipline.

team pursuit trott rowsell barker archibald lazer helmets
Archibald training with the GB Term Pursuit squad

Archibald holds up one finger: “Advice Number One. Find a club. I can’t believe the amount of advice and support and just… kindness…. that I’ve found in the cycling community. Not always traditional kindness – but what I realise now was kindness. I started at Meadowbank [the outdoor velodrome also a training ground for Sir Chris Hoy], and the guys there were amazing, I’m just constantly in their debt. You’d be amazed at the kind of help you get in the sporting world.”

Read More: Advice For Your First Club Ride

“You make one mistake and you’re like ‘ugh, balls, I wish I hadn’t done that!’ but there’s another race in 10 minutes, you can try it again!”

She pauses, and holds up finger number two – this one does apply mostly to track riders:  “Do track league. Most velodromes host a league, it’s [usually] once a week that you can race, and just learn! You make one mistake and you’re like ‘ugh, balls, I wish I hadn’t done that!’ but there’s another race in 10 minutes, you can try it again! And once a week, 4 races in a night, it’s just fantastic. I found with some of the road racing stuff you’d maybe get a race every other weekend, it wouldn’t go well, and you’d be like ‘ah how am I going to fix this?’. It doesn’t have to be that way with track.” [If you’re interested in this, get to your local velodrome, get accredited, and ask about the league!]

Number three is excellent advice for cyclists of any discipline, but particularly track riders where efforts are short. As a bit of a turbo addict, I was pleased to hear the words: “If you’re time limited, or actually just anybody who wants to get faster, I find you can get so much out of a turbo trainer.

“You can get so strong doing interval training on a turbo trainer. I’d say that’s where I got my first big surge to be competitive in races and to have that motivation to get better.”

“Track is a winter sport really, and you can get so strong doing interval training on a turbo trainer. I’d say that’s where I got my first big surge to be competitive in races and to have that motivation to get better. These days, I’ll maybe only have one turbo session a week, mixed in with gym and road and track – but if you’re working 9-5 and you want to get home and get some seriously hard training in – and no I’m not sponsored by a turbo brand or anything – I totally recommend turbo!”

Ok - they're rollers - close!
Ok – they’re rollers – close!

The next obvious question is ‘but WHAT should we do on the turbo’? Of course, the best efforts will depend on your goals – but Archibald shares her top session: “My favourite turbo session would maybe have a Points Race vibe to it. So, start with a warm up. Then you’re going to ride four five minute efforts. Start each effort with 30 seconds of ‘attack’ sprinting – not max effort as you need to float into the next four minutes. Keep the effort high, and then in the final 30 seconds of your five minutes, attack again. Take a five minute break between each interval, and soft pedal – but do pedal – you can’t fall off the bike! After four intervals, cool down and that’s it!”

Archibald trains under the eyes of British Cycling coaches – and the Team Pursuit is not an easy event to prepare for – she says: “Training for the team pursuit – 4km, 4minutes – it’s a very fine compromise between a power or sprint event, but still with that requirement for endurance. It is still an aerobic event. So there’s a very small portion of elite level cyclists doing the kind of training that we’re doing. We are in the gym, but we still fall into that ‘road’ category – most of us did the Women’s Tour over summer, we’ve got one part of training that’s aiming towards riding for five hours, and the other part aiming towards four minutes. It’s kind of like mile running – we spend a lot of time going over race speed, and a lot of time doing base miles – with the overall aim of being very good in the middle.”

Archibald at the end of another Women's Tour stage
Archibald at the end of another Women’s Tour stage

Though she can’t share too many secrets, she tells me that they do follow a traditional periodised approach – riding base miles last summer, with events such as the Women’s Tour, then hitting the gym and eventually completing those super hard high intensity interval sessions.

“For me personally I feel a lot more motivated with racing than training – probably not something I should admit to but if it works, you’ve sometimes got to do it!”

The road season is still uncertain, and she says: “I think [my road racing will be] fairly limited, but there will be times in the early summer where it will be useful to get that training through racing. I think that’s how our coach would see it – you’re only going to race if it will serve a physiological need for that one big event. For me personally I feel a lot more motivated with racing than training – probably not something I should admit to but if it works, you’ve sometimes got to do it!”

And how is the overall picture on the road to Rio? It’s looking good, Archibald confirms: “We all feel pretty positive about it, it’s tricky to always have the international performances that reflect how it’s going to go in six months time, but you’ll just have to take our word for it! It’s all on track. I can’t give away too many secrets, but it’s going well!”

Want to try the track? Check out our velodrome guide. We’ll have more news on the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club soon – but in the mean check out the page, where you can sign up as a member, here.

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