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  • Nick Craig on how to stay fast as you age on You Tube
  • BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    Quite an entertaining watch as Nick Craig – 53 and still finishing top ten in elite races – explains to Si Richardson from GCN how he stays stupidly fast. I think genetics might just possible come into it and I suspect that if I followed the exact same routine as Nick I’d be even slower than I am, but it’s interesting that he’s basically mixing up a high proportion of very steady riding with a few shorter, sharper sessions that seem pretty impromptu and unstructured as in ‘I just get out of breath’. Hmmm…

    BenjiM
    Full Member

    It’s funny as you’d expect CX racing to be require an awful lot of training requiring HIIT but in reality following (and racing against Nick Craig) and other top riders in our league and the UK, they do a lot of base miles riding. Unfortunately sadly lacking for me at the moment is any sort of time to get rides of more than an hour or 2 in. I found at the weekend that I really struggled with the pace at a CX race, partly down to lack of aerobic fitness from not doing longer rides, bad fueling, 2 bad nights sleep and recovering from covid and still having a cold. The proverbial wheels fell off. Might just have to get up earlier to get those base miles in!
    Oh and proud dad moment when Nick awarded my daughter the Under 10 NWCCA league trophy last year!

    IHN
    Full Member

    Interesting watch, and seems to back up the “loads of Z2” stuff that’s being discussed on the other thread.

    Am I right in thinking he lives in New Mills? I recognised a fair few bits of where they were riding. And I’d be interested to know where Charlie’s Cairn is.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Am I right in thinking he lives in New Mills? I recognised a fair few bits of where they were riding. And I’d be interested to know where Charlie’s Cairn is.

    Hayfield.

    Charlie’s Cairn is on the descent from 20 Trees into Hayfield, roughly here (streetmap link)

    The trails they used in the video were around Kinder Res – the steep cobbled climb is this one and there was some filming in the woods and moorland just south of there too above Hayfield Campsite. Some of it was used in both directions.

    thepodge
    Free Member

    I’ll have to have a watch of this later. Saw him at the weekend racing cross, he was top ten and I thought not bad for a guy getting on, then it was pointed out he was not only leading his age category but also well ahead of many much younger than him as there were multiple categories racing at once. Main thing is though that the purple sparkle paint on his race bike is very very nice.

    stcolin
    Free Member

    Interesting video. I do sometimes find them a little condescending, but then these riders are what I would class as pro-am at the very least.

    I turned 40 last month, and I feel I wasted my 30’s not getting fit enough to see me through the next 20/30 years of riding. I worry that I can’t get fitter at this stage, or at the very least it takes a serious effort compared to doing it 10 years ago.

    My other thing, about Z1/Z2 rides. For him and the likes of him, he can do more on his ride than me. I would literally need to ride at 12mph on the flat to stay in those zones and that’s not easy even on the flats around Cheshire. I bet he can get quite a few climbs in and do 16mph+ and stay in those low zones.

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    @stcolin has the same problem I have in Zone 2, I have to go very slow. Keeping a steady mid Zone 2 on the turbo is around 14-15mph. I have been challenging myself recently to getting some up of the smaller hills hereabouts in Zone 2, just to see if I can. Well I can – at about 4.5mph!

    Oh and I’ve left it a bit late in life to think I’ll ever get up the cobbles at Kinder Reservoir.

    Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    Look on the brightside @stcolin, if you race in your 40s you’ll be as fast as you’ve ever been, it will be peak performance. Guys in my club who went fast in their 20s are all sad they they’re now old and slow, relatively speaking.

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    I turned 40 last month, and I feel I wasted my 30’s not getting fit enough to see me through the next 20/30 years of riding. I worry that I can’t get fitter at this stage, or at the very least it takes a serious effort compared to doing it 10 years ago.

    After my entire twenties were spent clubbing in London, I started cycling/MTB on a social basis in the local woods on. Claud Butler Osiris hard tail aged 30. My first every sleepless in the saddle was with a social team at age 38 and 5 laps nearly killed me. I started self-training / racing solo at 43, and being coached at 46. Last year at 49 I was 9th National solo 12hr. I’m not a lifelong cyclist nor do I have great genes. It is possible. And yes it takes hard work, but so does everything if you want to be higher up life’s ladder.

    Video bookmarked for lunchtime viewing!

    mogrim
    Full Member

    I wonder if he also has to fit in his training around a day job spending 8+ hours sitting down in front of a computer?

    stanley
    Full Member

    I enjoyed that. Thanks for posting.

    kerley
    Free Member

    The key difference for him (and me) as we are getting older is the recovery which he talks about quite a bit.
    At 55 I am not noticeably slower than at 45 (according to Strava) yet I am much more tired a few hours after riding these days.

    IHN
    Full Member

    I wonder if he also has to fit in his training around a day job spending 8+ hours sitting down in front of a computer?

    From the video he does indeed, except he’s sitting in a van

    Hayfield.

    Charlie’s Cairn is on the descent from 20 Trees into Hayfield, roughly here (streetmap link)

    Gotcha, ta.

    johnx2
    Free Member

    Nick Craig – 53

    Jesus he’s only 53? Saw that on my youtube feed and assumed he’d be about 70. Sorry if I’m being unkind but clearly life has been too… That said I probably look like Iggy Pop’s gray bearded left testicle. I think it’s after 55/56 the serious decay has started setting in for me. But we battle on…

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    So in summary:

    a) He tends to do shorter races now
    b) He can’t produce the power he used to
    c) 4.2wkg for an hour on Zwift is sweet spot for him, so there is of course genetics.
    d) 2-3hrs several times a week just just riding along in low zones
    e) Race Recovery takes 2-3 days / longer
    g) He’s doing unstructured structured training – low zones with efforts where required.
    f) Yoga / stretching /core strength is important
    g) I’m 50, its all downhill from here 😀
    h) All riding / training is enjoyable

    The big take away for me was “not basing happiness with the sport on results”. That something I’ve very much fallen foul of.

    BenjiM
    Full Member

    @johnx2

    Jesus he’s only 53? Saw that on my youtube feed and assumed he’d be about 70. Sorry if I’m being unkind but clearly life has been too… That said I probably look like Iggy Pop’s gray bearded left testicle. I think it’s after 55/56 the serious decay has started setting in for me. But we battle on…

    That’s not Nick Craig, that’s an older digitised image of Simon Richardson (the GCN host)

    john_l
    Full Member

    Jesus he’s only 53? Saw that on my youtube feed and assumed he’d be about 70. Sorry if I’m being unkind but clearly life has been too…

    If you’re referring to that pic up there, that’s an aged picture of Simon Richardson, not Nick!

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    If you’re referring to that pic up there, that’s an aged picture of Simon Richardson, not Nick!

    Fabulous.

    Poor Nick!

    steve_b77
    Free Member

    My other thing, about Z1/Z2 rides. For him and the likes of him, he can do more on his ride than me. I would literally need to ride at 12mph on the flat to stay in those zones and that’s not easy even on the flats around Cheshire. I bet he can get quite a few climbs in and do 16mph+ and stay in those low zones.

    That’s the thing, it’s not staying in your current Z2, it’s about making your current Z2 capabilities greater than they are now. It’s essentially the old adage of “It doesn’t get easier you just go faster”.

    It all ties in nicely with the modern crop of mega talented Pro riders, as linked elsewhere its basically a 80/20 split of 80% of you time spent in Z2 and 20% in Zone 4 & 5 as nothing is ever won in Z3 and there’s no point having an amazing top end if you’re on your arse cos you can’t spin along all day.

    uponthedowns
    Free Member

    My other thing, about Z1/Z2 rides. For him and the likes of him, he can do more on his ride than me. I would literally need to ride at 12mph on the flat to stay in those zones and that’s not easy even on the flats around Cheshire.

    Me too (also Cheshire). Si Richardson’s zone 2 power of 250 watts is my best FTP! If I give long Z2 sessions a go I think it will have to be on the turbo.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    He does come across as a rather nice person…was an interesting video. I saw him at the CX race in Falkirk and did feel star-struck…he was a very regular face in the MTB press in the 90s, but still seems to be rather handy on a bike.

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Me too (also Cheshire). Si Richardson’s zone 2 power of 250 watts is my best FTP! If I give long Z2 sessions a go I think it will have to be on the turbo.

    Motor pacing for amateurs! Get my wife to drive along at 15mph in front of me. I’m sure lungfuls of diesel fumes from a 12yr old SUV won’t do me any harm 🙄

    Or, god forbid, have we finally discovered a legitimate* reason to own an e-bike? So you can do Z2 everywhere despite headwinds, luggage, hills?

    *JOKE!

    stcolin
    Free Member

    Well maybe my lowly FTP of 210W says a lot then (according to Zwift). I do get the point though, I just need to keep riding at those low zones and it will sort itself out in the end.

    johnx2
    Free Member

    If you’re referring to that pic up there, that’s an aged picture of Simon Richardson, not Nick!

    So he’s only 38? It gets worse… Where’s the embarrassed face emoji when I need it?

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    Or, god forbid, have we finally discovered a legitimate* reason to own an e-bike? So you can do Z2 everywhere

    You be on to something there. A bike which by the use of a power meter, motor and braking requires you to maintain a fixed power irrespective of terrain – provides resistance on the flat/downhill and assistance uphill.

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    You be on to something there. A bike which by the use of a power meter, motor and braking requires you to maintain a fixed power irrespective of terrain – provides resistance on the flat/downhill and assistance uphill.

    Ah bugger, you mean you couldn’t do it as standard? I was getting excited at the prospect of using an e-bike as an ultimate Zone 2 commuter, I could easily do 6hrs a week of relatively nice roads in nice countryside, all at Z2 and saving myself a packet in train fares and diesel.

    You don’t *need* the resistance on downhills surely, they just wouldn’t count towards the accumulated time in Z2?

    julians
    Free Member

    Ah bugger, you mean you couldn’t do it as standard?

    I dont have one, so I cant confirm, but I understand that the Blevo app for specialized ebikes allows you to set a target heartrate and it will vary the amount of assist to maintain that heart rate.

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    That’s the thing, it’s not staying in your current Z2, it’s about making your current Z2 capabilities greater than they are now. It’s essentially the old adage of “It doesn’t get easier you just go faster”.

    This – when I started coaching my coach showed me some of Froome’s data which indicated he rides Z2 during Tour stages at 280W.

    oldenough
    Free Member

    Nick Craig has lapped me more than a few times on a mtb or any other type of bike he’s been riding. And is a proper gent to, no shouting swearing just a smile and a kind word. I came to the conclusion however hard I train I’ll never be as fast as he is because 30 years ago he was twice as quick as me. Fast forward he still is. Yes the right training helps but it’s what your born with that matters most.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Nick Craig has lapped me more than a few times on a mtb or any other type of bike he’s been riding. And is a proper gent to, no shouting swearing just a smile and a kind word.

    One of the 24hr races at the Malverns, he caught me up in the middle of a technical narrow section and he just sort of disappeared from behind me and reappeared in front of me. I have no idea of how he managed an overtake through the ferns and rocks to the side of the narrow trail without any hint of an issue. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Smooth, effortless, a few words of encouragement from him and he was gone.

    HOW?!

    steve_b77
    Free Member

    Smooth, effortless, a few words of encouragement from him and he was gone.

    HOW?!

    I think you’re hit the nail on the head, like he says in the video he doesn’t smash it up to features like sand as h knows he can ride it better than those around him. I recall an interview ages ago about him when he rode the Olympics etc and he never made enough power to go as fast as he does – in off road terms – the man can find grip where there isn’t any.

    This – when I started coaching my coach showed me some of Froome’s data which indicated he rides Z2 during Tour stages at 280W.

    That’s where everyone is in awe of the Pros in races, on the flat and transition stages unless they’re in breakaways they’re just spinning along in Z2. The difference is they’re elite human beings with genetics beyond about 99.9% of the rest of the human population. Bit like those marathon runner chaps, if you’re a reasonable runner, even a good club runner try and see how long you can hold 2hr 10 marathon pace for – it’s a 4:57min mile BTW The average Elite (better than 95% of all runners) marathon is 2hr 50 give or take.

    They’re just on another level and only a very few genetically gifted athletes are capable of such things, but those who are also have to have the will to win otherwise it all means nothing.

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    You don’t *need* the resistance on downhills surely, they just wouldn’t count towards the accumulated time in Z2?

    Yeah, you drop to Z1 on the downhills so it wouldn’t count. Still, ignoring that I suppose everywhere else you could use an ebike to maintain Z2 based on HR. Hmm, checks bank balance.

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Hmm, checks bank balance.

    Yeah… I would need to sell at least three other bikes 🙄

    What’s putting me off trying it on my normal bike is the hill immediately outside my house, the prevailing headwind and all the luggage I would need to carry. Would need gravel gears and about 2hrs to cover 30km in Z2 ☹️

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    the man can find grip where there isn’t any.

    This is also true on Elite MTB, with the likes of Nino racing around on Maxxis Aspens in the wet whereby the rest of use would choose – and likely fall off – a Mudtastic X1 Super quad compound thing,

    hardtailonly
    Full Member

    Enjoyed that.

    On the back of that, anyone recommend a good beginners yoga course/YouTube video for a non flexible 54 year old?

    dirtyrider
    Free Member

    The difference is they’re elite human beings with genetics beyond about 99.9% of the rest of the human population.

    plus drugs

    anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    I enjoyed the video and he’s a very likeable bloke. But my main take home message seemed to be that talented riders are talented. This was amplified x2000 when they were talking about MVDP doing a lot of zone 2 training and then winning races, I mean it’s interesting but not sure how it applies to me

    qwerty
    Free Member
    nickc
    Full Member

    But my main take home message seemed to be that talented riders are talented

    Echos my thoughts, Nick is a lovely chap fo’shure, but I can’t do the training load he does now, and I’m very much not blessed with his genes.

    steve_b77
    Free Member

    This was amplified x2000 when they were talking about MVDP doing a lot of zone 2 training and then winning races, I mean it’s interesting but not sure how it applies to me

    Because whatever your ability on a bike, a healthy amount of Zone 2 (whatever your Z2 is) training will improve your ability to ride longer, further and even faster.

    I’m no super human, very far from it indeed, but when I decided to train for the European 24hr MTB champs in 2018 I set myself a target of riding 300km in 24 hours, which i thought was a reasonable target for a 41yr old dad of 3 with a full time job. To try and hit that target I did 10-12 hours a week, of which around 80% was Z2 chugging along, by way of commuting to work & steady evening rides in all weathers (nothing less than 2 hours) and 2 to 3 turbo sessions a week in the fabled Sweet Spot. I achieved my target – well 280km in 22 hours as they suspended the race for 2 hours due to a huge thunder & lightening storm – and walked away with Bronze in V40.

    After that the most noticeable thing was how “easy” it became riding with my regular riding buddies, it was almost like there was just a reserve of energy that I could tap into as and when required.

    So it applies to everyone, a good base fitness level and aerobic engine makes everything easier.

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