Sometimes things don’t work out. With Dan Cooper


We have been working with Dan for some time now. He's a big man with big goals and even bigger quads. Dan approached us about supporting his assault on the National Kilo Championships , which unfortunately didn't quite go to plan. Here's Dan's take on it:

With the support of Jam Cycling this winter I decided to try something completely different; I was to ditch the high-volume training on the road that I’ve become so familiar with, and take to the track and the gym to focus on training for the 1KM TT at the National Track Championships in January 2018.

I met with Chris and George to discuss the possibility and if we thought it would be worth it. I felt I’d need some guidance, as I wasn’t as familiar with the types of training and how to structure it. George suggested a coach he knows who works up in Manchester. I had taken a 1-min max power test a few days prior, which George put in front of him to essentially say, ‘Is a decent result achievable with this rider?’. The answer was yes and so the ball began to roll.

My coach for said project was Mehdi Kordi. Mehdi coaches some of Team GB, has won the Henley Boat Race and studied a PhD in Max Power Production for Cyclists – probably one of the best men in the country for the job.

Time to Train

So all began in October, training went from 300-400k a week to 2 gym sessions, 2 track sessions and anaerobic efforts on the turbo. Training hours switched from ~15 to maybe 6-7. The early goal was to see what I can push and increase maximum strength.

The early part of a kilo TT consists of a gated standing start and required huge torque to get up to speed on a big gear. The gear selection has to be suitable for the maximum speeds achieved, typically around 65kmh. So hitting the gym hard was the bread and butter alongside practicing the first lap standing starts on the track.

Each month I was repeating a test protocol which monitored my 1-, 5-, 20- and 60-second efforts. Over October, November and into December we saw tremendous progression is the 1-, 5- and 20-second efforts with the 60 second fluctuating, but staying roughly the same. That wasn’t too much of an issue as a Kilo, which starts with big power and tapers off, will generally be faster than one started sub-maximal. For example, if 2 rides are done, one starting with 5 seconds at 1700w and the other 5 seconds at 1200w, but the average over the minute is 850w for both, the 1700w starting power will likely be quicker.

Beginning of October PBs

  • 1s – 1757w

  • 5s – 1580w

  • 20s – 1258w

  • 60s – 844w

Beginning of December PBs

  • 1s – 1969w (+222w)

  • 5s – 1782w (+202w)

  • 20s – 1280w (+22w)

  • 60s – 844w (+0w)

We Have the Power Now Let’s Get Slippery

A the end of November we looked to increase performance by optimising aerodynamics. We visited WattShop and spent 2 hours on the track in Derby Arena with 8-time National Champion, Dan Bigham. The goal was to optimise my pursuit position and helmet choice to go faster for the same power output. The session was hard graft, essentially producing 12 rolling Kilo runs in 2 hours so we could make repeated changes. The outcome was great. On position alone we saved around 35w and another 9w with helmet choice. Putting 44w on through training would be amazing, so to grab that kind of benefit in 2 hours was great.

The Downward Turn

Going into December motivation was very high, we had increased my anaerobic power, enhanced my position and we were around 6 weeks away from competition. Time for one last training block where we would focus on the longer 60-70 second efforts. As I began the training block hard, I started to suffer. I had a mild cold and was feeling fatigued during my training sessions. It really took it out of me and the thought of climbing on the bike to crank out 700w+ repeatedly wasn’t great, on the times that I tried I was off the mark.

It was time for a tough decision. Stop training and rest it off? Lower intensity a little and try to push through? I opted to take time off the bike. I was doing short, less intense gym sessions to try and keep something going, but it just wasn’t going well. It continued for a few weeks and by this point I was starting to really lose sight of the objective, I felt like it was crashing a bit. I had a conversation with Mehdi. Do we wait until after Xmas and hit it again? I told him I still want this and am happy to train over Christmas. So I travelled back to my parents with my road bike setup for TT efforts. I did a few of my 60-sec effort sessions and boom – massive illness struck. Something clearly tripped inside me and I was bed ridden. Over Christmas I spent most days in bed feeling like I couldn’t eat and surviving on smoothies.

I didn’t begin to feel better until 27th December at which point I logged into TrainingPeaks. I was now only a few weeks out from competition, some of which would be tapering time and I hadn’t logged a useful training session since the first few days of December.

This was the point where I had to make the call – do I continue and go to competition not in the best shape I could be or do I can it? I had conversations with Chris and George at Jam, as well as some close friends and Mehdi. I decided I didn’t want to go and produce an average result that I wouldn’t be satisfied with. It was a tough call and something I haven’t personally had to do before, but a stark reminder that things don’t always go to plan and sometimes that isn’t in your hands.

I was keen to come away positive and be proud of the things I’d learned about the new training sessions and the new power PBs, but it was time to reassess goals for the rest of the season.

Onwards and upwards.