‘Man flu’ and Derny bikes: Matt Brammeier writes

So after a good weekend in West Flanders, I was feeling pretty smashed and ready for a few easy days.

Matt will hope to return to his strong early-season form of the Tour Down Under at Dwaars Door Vlaanderen

I headed out the day after the race for an easy spin, and after 30 minutes it started to snow. Great! Just what I needed. 1 promptly headed home, booked some flights and hotels and the next morning I was in Girona.

Happy days… I thought. Almost as soon as I left Belgium, I started to feel like I was getting sick. When a bike rider gets these motions and sensations, soon enough they go into panic mode. The worst thing possible for us is too lose our health. I filled my face with vitamins etc. and did everything the doctor advised, but it was too late. The last day in West Flanders in the cold and rain tipped me over the edge. Within hours I started to feel like death and this feeling pretty much lasted the next week. I won’t bore you with the details but I was feeling pretty terrible, not riding my bike and was sat in a hotel room in what is one of the most beautiful places to ride a bike. Just to top it off, the weather was perfect.

So I got back from my ‘training camp’ with a grand old total of four hours on the bike at less than 180w. This wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for. I still wasn’t feeling great and ended up missing my planned races in Nokere Koers and Handzame. I was sat at home watching the boys winning everything and feeling like crap. All I wanted to do was race my bike.

Anyway, after almost two weeks, I was feeling recovered again and was back on my bike training well. I have recently bought myself a Derny and found somebody to ride it for me so I have been spending a lot of kilometres breathing out of my ears sat behind the thing. Sometimes we have long periods of time without a race or some days that we could really do with replicating those race sensations. A Derny or motorbike is the ideal way to do it. The changes in pace and little micro accelerations are hard to replicate outside of a race but you really get the feel for it sitting behind the bike at 45-60kph. I often find my power files and general feeling during these sessions to be harder than a lot of races. When you’re suffering in the wheels in a race you almost always have a little sliding room or time to back off for a split second and take a bit of recovery, when you’re behind the bike at 50kph you have no choice but keep the power down and dig deep.

Each session is normally different depending on the goal of the ride. For example after missing my two races last week I needed to get a race type effort done. I firstly rode for three hours alone in some small hills at a good hard tempo (260-280w). I then spent the last two hours behind the bike. The first hour, I took in five small hills between one and two minutes long, each one of these was really 100 per cent. I was on the limit of being dropped on each and every one. The last hour was spent on flatter terrain with a higher speed, finishing with three, 200m, 100 per cent sprints. After this, you’re pretty sure to be on your knees….and I was!

On the other hand, the Derny can also be useful on a day like today: the day before a race. I rode one hour alone really easy and then one hour behind the Derny on the flat, not too fast, just spinning the legs. Depending on how I feel, I will sometimes add in a couple of sprints towards the end of the ride just too keep a bit of tension in the muscles so I don’t feel too fresh and relaxed at the start of the race.

So all my training is done and the usual pre race rituals are well underway. All that’s left now is to wait and hope I have good legs tomorrow and my body didn’t lose too much with my recent bout of man flu.

I’ll be riding Dwaars Door Vlaanderen. It’s often called the ‘mini Tour of Flanders’ as it takes in the majority of the major climbs in Flanders. It’s going to be a hard day out no matter how good I feel, but let’s hope we can finish the day off with a good result and good morale as usual.

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Omega Pharma-QuickStep team for Dwaars Door Vlaanderen

Matthew Brammeier (IRL)
Sylvain Chavanel (FRA)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Nikolas Maes (BEL)
Gert Steegmans (BEL)
Niki Terpstra (NED)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)

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