Marcin ‘Machine’ Bialoblocki is one of the hardmen of the British pro racing scene, and in 2013 he won one of the most testing races outside of the WorldTour: the Irish Ras
Marcin Bialoblocki has a somewhat formidable reputation. His nickname isn’t just a play on his real name; he rides like a machine too. When Bialoblocki hits the front everybody knows about it.
He’s one of those riders, like Ian Stannard, who will hammer out a killing pace for mile after mile and over any sort of terrain. Part of this is natural. Some people are just strong, and Bialoblocki is one of them. At six feet, three inches he’s big with it, too.
That’s where his basic strength and power come from, but there’s no doubt that his approach to training hones his innate ability. As we will see in this typical week from what Bialoblocki calls “My endurance phase.”
Five hours. I do a block of endurance training for three months, starting in December. I ride in zone 2, with zone 3 on hills. It’s endurance-level stuff, with some tempo riding, so not threshold pace. I ride at 20 to 22 miles per hour.
I start with one-and-a-half hours every day for the first week then I add half an hour to each ride every week after that. As the rides get longer I set a range of time to do. I’m nearly at the end of my endurance phase, so this week the range is four to six hours.
Four hours of zone 2 and 3. It rained for part of today’s ride. I live in Bridgwater and we have had problems with flooding on the Somerset Levels, where I do a lot of training. I used the roads between Cheddar and Glastonbury today, a bit higher, but not climbing to the top of the Mendips.
CW says: Four hours pushing quite hard but still well under the limit, just putting the miles and the terrain under his wheels, is default pro training. It’s classic stuff, and so is Bialoblocki’s overall approach of digging a deep pit of endurance to build his season on. If you have the time this stuff works. Piling in the miles day after day builds deep strength. It can mean that the first races are uncomfortable, but because the strength is there, race speed and race fitness come very quickly, and they stay.
It rained a lot so I did four hours on the turbo. I listen to the weather forecast every day, and if they don’t forecast heavy rain then I train on the road. I stay on flat and undulating roads in winter. In summer I like to train in the hills towards Exmoor, but in winter you can suddenly get bad weather up there. I have done four-and-half hours on the turbo at this time of year before, but that’s my maximum.
Five hours zone 2 and 3. I am using heart rate for my zones this year, but I used power last year. I did a lot of experimenting with my time trial position with a power meter. That’s very interesting. You can make changes to your position and see if you are going faster for the same power. I know that stuff now, and if I ride some time trials this year I’ll use it. I know my heart rate zones from experience. I used to have a coach, but I have enough experience now to know what works for me.
CW says: OK, this is pro training, and it isn’t a model that someone with a full-time job could use. Cycling is Bialoblocki’s job, and because of that he can spend time building his fitness this way, but he makes an important point when he says he knows what works for him. As you progress in cycling you should constantly review your training, and note what works and what doesn’t; use the former and bin the latter.
Five hours zone 2 and 3.
Six hours zone 2 and 3. I raced next day, but that was a local race, so it’s training really and no reason to cut back on today. It didn’t rain so much today either, so I had to use it.
CW says: Twenty-nine hours of solid endurance riding in six days is a lot. In fact some pros couldn’t knock out week after week of this, but Bialoblocki can. He’s a mature rider with lots of experience and he knows it works for him. He uses the periodisation approach to training, building endurance first then speed on top of that. If you have the time, the patience and the physical resilience to train in a similar, albeit reduced, way; this approach works. You get strong, then fast, but you’ll stay strong through the season.
I raced at Ilton and I finished second. It was just a local race, so I should do well. I might have won but I rode on my training bike, and the gears are different. I ended up attacking in a headwind in a high gear, and it stopped me dead nearly. My way of training does make the first races hard, though. I have to depend on strength not speed. But I’m OK after the first few races.
CW says: Bialoblocki carried on pumping out the miles the following week, adding half an
hour to each session where he could, but that was the peak week of his endurance phase. There are three things you can take away from this training week.
That riding steadily but by no means slowly — Bialoblocki said his endurance rides are done at 20-22mph — builds a solid base to bolt other kinds of training on to.
Such a wide foundation also means fitness peaks can be much higher and they will be held for longer. This kind of training makes you a stronger rider. A lot of pros train like this through the winter months.
Malcolm Elliott and Russell Downing are two that spring to mind, and look at the results they have got, and in Downing’s case is still getting.
The final thing to remember is that if you want to improve an aspect of your riding, a period of several training sessions focusing solely on that aspect is a very effective way to do it. And that applies to sprint speed as much as it does to sheer strength and stamina.