The Hurt Locker

For the past two years, those in the club engaging in the annual Open Race scene, have trained hard through the dark winter months in preparation for the opening races. With the huge array of information available to aid riders shape training, this has had members employing various programs and plans in an effort to fit around their opportunities for training.

Individual/Solo training is generally a very personal means of improving perceived weaknesses, whilst collective training can often be used as a means of performance measurement and a force multiplier for competitive motivation.

Collectively VC Iveagh training rides include; the Saturday 9.03 (a fiesty 50 miles testing legs and cardio) and the Hurt Locker (hill repeats building both physical and mental strength). Central to organising much of the collective club training is Neil Seffen one of the clubs 2 current A2’s (the other Dan Gordon).

With the 9.03 accepted as a fast paced club group ride, recently I asked Neil for some comments on his (now familiar to many), Hurt Locker sessions and how or why he trusts so much in its benefits.

Neil Seffen –

Two questioning phrases are often used in life

If it works, why change it?

If it’s not broke, why fix it?

Asked if the Hurt Locker works?  I’d answer Well…yes!  As most of the riders who participated in last year’s Hurt Locker on the mainly used Scarva Drag, went on to achieve their season goals.  These included getting upgrading points in races, setting new personal bests in time trials and being able to complete in ultra-long sportives.  Secondly, asked is it broke or should we fix it, I’d answer…no; but evolution is a wonderful thing and although the riders gained massive benefits in terms of fitness and mental strength; these benefits weren’t fully appreciated until the summer months in June and July.


I’m a firm believer in periodization and progressive overload; and so with this and some evolution, the idea was researched and methods were put in place for a new and improved VCI Hurt Locker for the 2017 season ahead.

Instead of jumping head first into the Scarva drag which was about a 10 minute effort last year; several scouting sessions on the bike were undertaken in September and three different climbs were sourced. Each being different in length and gradient, designed to get progressively longer each month until the Scarva drag is/was once again used, after the Christmas holidays.

Going back a little, October had us start with a new two minute climb (or interval). An extra repeat up the climb was introduced every week until the end of the month.  November then saw a four minute climb with December increased further to a six minute climb, with the same format of an extra repeat being introduced each week to ensure progression is/was happening.  After Christmas the ten minute Scarva drag is/was back in play again and thereafter waits the 2017 season.

What remains constant from last year is that riders are still started at staggered time intervals so that everyone is either trying to stay away or chasing down the red rear light in front.  And with the intensity and high wattage on the ascents, the only chat is once all the repeats are finished and comparisons are being made to the previous week or how many are in store for next week!

With all involved pushing themselves further into the red zone each week; physiological adaptations are taking place and combined with the competitive streak to be the best, hopefully the VCI Hurt Locker crew will set the standard in terms of achieving new goals and objectives.

Now drawing to a close. Neil and those whom committed solidly to the program will go forward  without doubt in better shape than before and hopefully form a VCI Vanguard in 2017. The Club wishes to express its gratitude and best wishes to all members, engaged at all levels, every success for 2017.

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