Riding Technique

Shed of Dread | Work Out with Darren Roberts

The Sixteenth in our series of articles by Darren 'Conehead' Roberts... trainer to the stars.

We all have a name for it, ‘the hurt locker’, ‘the pain cave ‘or my own version – ‘the pain train to struggletown’. They can all mean different things to different people, but overall the message is the same – it’s about sharing… pain!

From Dirt Issue 144 – February 2014

Words by Darren Roberts. Photo by Doc Ward.

As an elite practitioner I’m all about goals, methods and plans, I write them for athletes and weekend warriors alike. However something that is often missed by elites and the weekend shredder is the group dynamic. We’ve all done it, a lone road ride working against yourself, sure you may hit social media with how you’ve just done a 2 hour ‘smashfest’ getting the miles in for the up coming season because your heart rate monitor said so. Then maybe post a picture of your post–ride meal just for Will Longden (ex World Cup racer and Saracen team manager… in joke), but how effective are these lone wolf workouts versus the group suffering?

The group ride versus the solo ride can be the same distance, but the outcomes and output are always very different. You can strap whatever gadgets you can afford to yourself to measure your output as you follow your training plan, but throw some close friends into the mix and the intensity level always gets kicked up a notch. If you’re subscribing to or following a particular training programme, who said it had to be you and you alone? If you decide to put yourself through a post Christmas/New Year/I’m going to be fitter this year than ever before programme, it’s not something you have to do alone. Rope your friends into it!

I’m not talking about testosterone fuelled chest beating–fests, but maximising your training sessions, whether gym, road or mountain, by using the group dynamic to push each other. Working with a group of friends has all kinds of benefits beyond just egging each other on. When you’re not feeling up to it, your friends can get you to the training session; when you’re flagging in the session they’ll keep you going. Equally if you’re feeling good you can help your mates get through the session. It’s not just physical training, but anything you do as a group often has unexpected side benefits, such as technical gains. Struggling with a technical aspect of your riding, then as I’ve written before, if you ride with someone ‘better’ than you it will have a viral effect on your own riding ability.

I had young Taylor Vernon (GT World Cup rider) up with me for some rehab, as he often is, and during one of the sessions team manager Dan Brown joined in, using a piece of equipment I call ‘The Devil’s Tricycle’. The key is in the name obviously, it’s the most hated and feared piece of kit by anyone that’s used it. At Tay’s encouragement I decided the introduce Brownie to the Devil’s Trike. It was a repeated sprint session of hideousness, which to be fair Brown Dog charged through. At the end of the session through gasps of breath he said, ‘the work in the shed of dread is paying off…’ and he was right. Everyone needs a ‘shed of dread’ in their lives, which doesn’t have to be an actual shed filled with actual dread, but a metaphor for a group of like–minded friends or people who all meet to help each other out.

We all have the best of intentions with any training session or programme, in fact anything we embark on. But having that group of friends or like–minded people to share the burden and help you get through it can be the best ‘personal training’ you’ll ever have.

Now, I’m off to ride my death donkey up Lung Bust mountain to pray at the Temple of Suffering…

This article is part of the Work Out series. You can find the rest of Darren Roberts training tips through the links below:


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