After a dominant 2013, winning practically all that was on offer, Hannah Barnes signed her first pro contract with US team United Healthcare.
The 20 year old, who has been supported by the Dave Rayner Fund, has a bright-looking future ahead of her. The majority of her racing will take place across the pond next season, with many circuit and stage races on the cards.
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Louise Mahé caught up with Barnes while she was back in the UK over Christmas, to see what she was up to before she headed to Argentina, where she had her first win of the season at stage one of the Tour de San Luis.
Ended up doing three and a quarter hours around Essex, in the rain, with Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ollie Wood. As we needed to get back at a certain time, and had two punctures, I spent the last 30 minutes of the ride hanging onto the boys’ wheels to make it back in time.
CW says: A relatively long ride out with some fast boys is a good way to up the intensity from those slower winter rides. Heading out with faster, stronger people will help you improve as a rider.
Despite it being unplanned that Barnes had to cling onto her companions’ wheels for half an hour at the end of the ride, it would have been beneficial and required a long endurance effort, perfect for this time of year. This would also be good as it simulates the upping of pace that usually occurs in the final stages of a race.
I had to go to the US embassy to get my visa sorted, so was up early and spent most of my morning there. When I got home, I did a 30-minute turbo session. This starts with a 20-minute progressive effort that gradually gets harder, followed by five 10-second sprints. I wasn’t very motivated so it was a pretty lame session. It may as well have been a day off.
CW Says: Life as a pro isn’t all fun and games, and it’s often a hassle to fit in things like sorting out your visa around your training schedule. After being up early and waiting around all morning, Barnes still got on the turbo to get some training in.
She admits it was fairly pointless and that she should have taken the day off, but even a short session like this can help riders continue ticking over. The short, 10-second sprints will help wake her legs up again after a morning sitting around, and prepare her for the next day of riding.
“The weather was good so I did a five-hour endurance ride”
It was windy and rainy but I still went out for a three-hour, steady ride.
Two hours in the sunshine for once. During the ride, I did three very low-geared, high-cadence sprint efforts. These are only 200 metres long. I usually just pick out a tree or sign and sprint to it.
CW says: Despite doing a steady endurance ride on Wednesday, this would have been a tough day in the saddle for Barnes. Getting lots of miles in the legs early on in a season is important for riders to ensure they can last the distance in races.
Barnes follows this up on the Thursday with another steady ride, but this time adds some sprint efforts into the mix. It’s important to practise sprint efforts like these during training, using low gears and high cadences, as it enables riders to turn the pedals quickly, simulating race situations where it’s necessary to respond to bunch-kicks or attacks.
I had a full day off the bike.
With such awful weather yet again I didn’t fancy getting cold and wet so I did two separate one-hour turbo sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening. I did long efforts and short efforts to make it less tedious. The short ones are 10 to 15 second sprints, and the long ones are two to five minutes long, ridden at a high intensity.
CW says: After battling the elements earlier in the week, Barnes had a full recovery day. This is vital when training hard every day, as the body needs time to recuperate. On Saturday Barnes decided to train indoors. This was probably a wise move to avoid all that hard work being derailed by catching a bug before the start of the season.
Combining different lengths of efforts and different intensities helped prevent Barnes from getting too bored on the turbo. Splitting the day into two sessions is a good way to make two hours on the turbo manageable mentally, as just sitting on a turbo for hours on end can reduce motivation.
The different length and intensity of efforts during these turbo sessions work various aspects of fitness. The short efforts are perfect for attacks and sprinting, while the longer efforts are good for ‘pulling up’ a rider’s threshold, to aid when time trialling and working hard after an attack.
The weather was good so I did a five-hour endurance ride with the Twenty3c guys.
CW says: Even after Christmas, riders still need to press on and get long rides in as they help consolidate their base fitness.
A five-hour ride for Barnes is probably more than the maximum amount of time she’d be racing for, but getting long, low-intensity rides in provides a solid base to build on as the season progresses.
When out for long training rides like these, it’s not a bad idea to go out in a group, as you can sit in and draft if you’re struggling at any point. It also gives you the option of conversation to make the ride more enjoyable.