TrainHeroic – Pursuing a stronger cyclist

By: Ben Dilley, former professional cyclist for Team Novo Nordisk and current Strength and Performance Coach for the Team Novo Nordisk Development Team

Strength development for Team Novo Nordisk cyclists

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” This well-known quote from the Greek poet, Archilochus reminds us that when evaluating the development of an elite-level cyclist, the entire body of work must be considered. Increasing a rider’s threshold of muscular strength off the bike is an integral component for improving that “level of training” and enhancing performance gains in everything else the rider does on the bike.

As a former professional cyclist with Team Novo Nordisk and now a strength and performance coach, I have the privilege of conveying my cycling experience and coaching knowledge through providing strength and performance training for the Team Novo Nordisk Development Team. Up to this point, I’ve typically resorted to using shared documents and spreadsheets for prescribing each cyclist’s individual strength training. With the importance of providing customized programming for each rider’s specific needs, this format has proven cumbersome, and inefficient when updating and adjusting each different document. Having the training data and metrics stored in so many locations has made tracking data accurately very challenging. With most coach-athlete communication requiring the use of a separate messaging app, it has been difficult to fully understand the athlete’s fatigue level and accurately assess any changes in their performance.

Adding to these challenges, today’s elite-level cyclists are living in a data-driven world. The seemingly constant influx of training data and performance metrics, along with the various apps and platforms available to track this information can easily cause “data overload.” Specific to strength development, both coaches and athletes can find themselves overwhelmed with the plethora of information and potentially miss out on identifying areas for improvement and important trends in performance. The utility of a consolidated platform that allows for strength training to be prescribed, completed, and evaluated all in one location has never been higher.

Enter TrainHeroic.

With TrainHeroic’s incredible support of Team Novo Nordisk, I have been thrilled to begin using their platform to provide the Development team riders with their strength and performance training. Setting up my coach account on TrainHeroic was a smooth and straightforward process. Any questions I did have were quickly resolved through the associated help articles and videos demonstrating the exact process in both the web-based and mobile platforms. Transferring my programs from the various shared documents and spreadsheets has proven incredibly easy as the TrainHeroic platform provides an extensive library of exercises, prescriptions, and training formats, while also allowing for immense customization. Having the ability to create my own exercises and input specific modifications has been a key advantage to the TrainHeroic platform. While there are no substitutes for the fundamental strength movement patterns, slight adjustments and variations can make the desired strength development that much more transferrable to on-the-bike performance. TrainHeroic’s exercise creation feature allows me to input nuanced movements and exercises while providing specific instructions for the riders to follow for achieving the intended stimulus. Saving individual sessions gives a heightened level of adaptability that my previous method of shared documents did not. With the TrainHeroic mobile app, I have the capacity to adjust training sessions on the fly based on how the riders are feeling and account for other important performance metrics. This feature is even more critical in-season as the riders’ schedule can vary significantly with big blocks of training, traveling, and racing.

In conjunction with the feedback and communication I receive from the Development team’s director and cycling performance coach, I’m excited to start tracking individual rider feedback with TrainHeroic’s Readiness score. The brief questionnaire that riders complete before their training session will provide me with a unique insight into how they are feeling and assist with identifying trends over time. The ability to message a rider directly within the TrainHeroic app and address exercises or certain training sessions will also provide a major improvement to coach-athlete communication. Having all this critical information stored in one location and readily available will enable me to better prescribe training and contribute to each rider’s overall improvements in their cycling performance.

There is little doubt that cyclists pursuing elite-level performance must be willing to invest in building a larger foundation of strength. A stronger cyclist will be more resilient to training longer and harder on the bike. Increased strength will lead to improved power transfer and a more stable position on the bike. Ultimately, a stronger cyclist will be more resistant to fatigue, a crucial factor in determining who will win the day. With the goal for each Team Novo Nordisk Development team rider to reach the professional ranks, TrainHeroic has provided Team Novo Nordisk and me with the platform necessary to help unlock the strength and performance improvements required to reach that next level.

— tnn to www.teamnovonordisk.com

Hamish Beadle: Pursuing a career in pro cycling and the challenges that come with it

Hamish Beadle waited a full year to make his professional debut with Team Novo Nordisk. 2020 was his first season with the pro team but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he made the difficult decision to head back to New Zealand before pinning on his first number. 

The trip back home meant he was there from March to October, missing out on racing when it finally commenced late last year. 

Hailing from the tiny town of Invercargill, one of the southernmost cities in the world, Beadle says it was the place he felt most safe in all the uncertainty of the pandemic. 

In many ways for the 23-year-old, going home was claiming back lost time. Beadle left home at a very young age in pursuit of a professional cycling career. 

“I was 15 when I started talking to Team Novo Nordisk. I emailed them and told them I’m a track cyclist and loved riding bikes. I was trying to get some of the new kit because I owned the old Type 1 kit. All of a sudden, they asked for my resume and a couple of weeks later I had plane tickets to the TalentID camp in America. Asking for kit escalated to plane tickets to join the camp in America for a few weeks.”

His performance at the camp led to an invitation to the Team Novo Nordisk junior team and eventually two years later the devo team. “At the end of high school, I got the contract offer to move to the US full-time and didn’t think twice. Straight out of school I was on my way to America.”

Moving to Atlanta from Invercargill, a city of a population with less than 60 000 was “different” as Beadle recalls. “I think my town has more sheep and cows than people, and I went to America, the land where everything is big. It was mind-blowing.”

The sacrifice was an easy one. When Beadle was 7 years old, the teacher asked all the children to write down what they wanted to become and he wrote, “a professional cyclist.”

“Most people didn’t really understand that it could be a full-time job but I come from a cycling family where mom, dad, my brother and uncle all raced. It’s all I wanted to do.” 

A challenging pro debut

He finally got his chance in the big leagues recently when he lined up with the pro team for the first time in Tour de la Mirabelle. Beadle has been struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome after overloading himself with too much training in anticipation for the upcoming season. 

He knew the French race would be tough, but he was up for the challenge. 

“It was great to be back with the team and in that atmosphere with the boys but it didn’t have the best outcome performance-wise. It was a shock to the system. The level of racing has gone to another level, I knew it was going to be a lot of suffering and my main focus was to help the guys and make it as easy as possible for them.” 

Despite a lack of racing, he did well in the prologue to finish mid-pack, proving the speed he acquired from a track cycling background still benefits him. On stage one he played a supporting role in helping the team leaders and similarly on stage two until he pulled out of the race. 

His Mirabelle debut was special as one of his best friends from high school back in Invercargill was also on the startline. The little town of Invercargill represented well on the other side of the world in professional cycling. 

Diabetes chooses champions 

Beadle has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of 3. I asked him if being diagnosed at such a young age has taught him anything. “I definitely learnt at a very young age to be independent. It was a big thing for me because it gave me the freedom and took the weight off my parent’s shoulders when I learnt to be more mature with everything. When my mates wanted to go off to the park to play, I had to say hang on, I have a list of things to get together to take with me – a backpack, a drinks bottle, insulin, test kit etc.” 

That independence blossomed into a young 15-year-old Beadle hopping on a plane in pursuit of a cycling dream. A dream he has achieved but a journey that has only just gotten started.

— Xylon Vaneyck to www.teamnovonordisk.com