Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Leadout

I finally figured it out. All this time, I've had an idea in my mind of the super train of pain and how it was supposed to be implemented. I wasn't wrong, I just didn't quite understand the role that each person plays and that how, when performed in synch, how unstoppable the leadout train can be.

So here it is:

Preferably you will have 4 to 5 guys on you team at the end of a race who are willing to commit to the common cause of getting your sprinter across the line first. 4 to 5 guys you ask? It can be done with less, but pull it off with 4 to 5 and they'll be talking about it for months afterwards on the listserves. :) Now let's go over the roles; rider 1 is the first guy in the train, rider 5 is the sprinter:

Rider 1: Your job is to get to the front and take control of the pace of the pack. As a team you'll probably be starting mid pack, or maybe even farther back. As the first rider in the train, you're not waiting for another teams wheels to take you to the front and wait for them to putter out. You're in the wind, driving it, assuming that your day is going to be done once you get to the front.

Rider 2: Your like white on rice on Rider 1's back wheel. Once Rider 1 has gotten the group to the front, you take over and start picking up the pace to a point where everybody is forced to fall in line behind your sprinter or fight the wind on their own. You aren't sprinting, but you're seated, lackadaisically killing it, trying to keep the pace at a point where everybody else is doubting if they can come around the 3 guys behind you and still have something left to go to the line.

Now if someone is feeling really strong and tries to make that move to come around the train or another team is trying to establish their own train...enter Rider 3.

Rider 3: Your conserving energy on Rider 2's wheel, but not leaving any gaps at all or letting anybody force themselves into the line (and this is something for all those sitting 2 through 5...fight to hold your teammates wheel! All this goes out the window if you let somebody force themselves into the fold). If you see someone trying to make a move to try to come up over your train and take over, it's your turn to go to the front. You let Rider 2 know that their day is done, and you turn the screw a little tighter. Your job is to keep the lead and keep everybody behind you..behind you. Your on the front now and you've upped the speed to the point where everybody has no option but to fall in line behind or go all the way to the back. You're all out until you can go no more. At this point you've also pulled to one side of the road (maybe based on which way the wind is coming) and given enough space to allow your #4 and #5 riders to be protected by your draft and leaving everybody else in the gutter. You've got to commit for maybe 15 seconds, maybe more if you got a lot of power. At this point the line is coming, maybe you can see it...maybe not because you got blood coming out of the corners of your eyes from the hurt you're laying on the rest of the field, and right when you're about to pop..enter Rider 4.

Rider 4: The second you see Rider 3 falter/settle in pace, or you feel some other teams getting itchy to try to come around you and your sprinter, you're out of your saddle and up the road with your sprinter in tow. The key here is to jump, but not to the point that your sprinter is gapped and has to sprint just to get back to your wheel. Your job is to get your sprinter up to top speed and then start your sprint. You're sprinting for a line a ways in front of the actual line and aren't stopping until your sprinter goes around you. It's his responsibility to make the move for the line. Maybe you open the door a little to give him a little space to move, but no pulling off. At these speeds and with the amount of firepower behind you, safety is an issue and you could cause some serious problems if you sit up or pull off and get in the way of somebody else. Nobody comes around you and your sprinter, and if somebody tries...

Rider 5: Your job is the simple you get the glory. Riders 1 through 4 have given their all to get you to this point and now it's your turn to seal the deal. Point yourself at the line and just go. Everybody out there is a sprinter, so no need to explain this part. Just be first across the line. Now the details of your job leading up that point is more complicated. You're the conductor of the train. If the pace is too high and the energy is going to run out prior to you getting to your jump point, let them know to back off...or if the pace is too slow, let them know to pick it up. You're also in charge of letting the guys up front know who if anyone is trying to make a move up the left or right side. Most importantly, you're in charge of buying beers, with the race winnings, for all your boys for laying it all on the line for you.

So there it is...simple, right? I think everybody thinks they know what they should be doing, but nobody does it (or very few people/teams pull it off). Part of it is that not enough teams have the firepower to pull it off and part of it is that guys don't want to sacrifice (remember...we're all sprinters, right??). The thing is though, if somebody does pull it off....they'll be unstoppable...especially in the 3/4/5 since it usually ends up in a sprint anyway.

A lot to process, but fun stuff...cheers.


chris said...

that would be exceptional if a 3,4 crew could get it that in sync, to lay out a lead out that was that disciplined. The problem is exactly as you to keep the unit from breaking apart bc of too much speed or swallowed bc too slow... or being bust into...the experience for such an execution would be hard to come by. communication during the execution is difficult at best. radio on the side to offer help is good.

chuck hutch said...

You guys successfully did it twic in a row at the HP (god job), now do it in a race.