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Fast Talk podcast, ep. 79: Playing the energy game, with Colby Pearce

In episode 79, we discuss how, when, and where to unleash your energy most effectively in race situations.

The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best training advice and most compelling insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist. Listen in as VeloNews managing editor Chris Case and our resident physiologist and coach, Trevor Connor, discuss a range of topics, including sport science, training, physiology, technology, nutrition, and more.


There are a lot of analogies that cyclists and coaches have devised to try to understand a basic concept in cycling — we all have a limited amount of energy, and to win races, we have to use that energy carefully.

Metrics such as calories, kiloJoules, Watt Prime (W’), and FRC are attempts to quantify it. Many top pros just have a feel for it. But ultimately, we all have a “jar of energy” we can use in a race. Some of us have bigger jars, some smaller. But the winner of the race isn’t necessarily the rider with the biggest jar. It’s the rider who still has a little energy left in the jar at the end of the race, and who knows just the right moment to use it.

In this episode, we discuss how to use your jar most effectively to make sure every time you pour a little of that precious energy out, it makes an impact.

We’ll apply this to a discussion of bike racing, including:

  • Why the best rider always wins the race, even if the or she isn’t the strongest rider
  • We’ll define energy and discuss the pros and cons of trying to measure it
  • However you measure it, you have a limited supply. So, we’ll dive into all the ways you can unnecessarily waste energy including:
    • Responding to every move
    • Riding in the washing machine
    • Poor positioning
    • Riding on the front for no reason
  • After we talk about all the ways you can waste energy, we’ll flip it around and talk about ways to save energy including:
    • Finding the sweet spot in the field and seeking to be bored
    • Learning to observe the field so you know when “it’s about to get real” and when it’s not
    • Learning to think like a sprinter and why it’s okay to sit on
  • Finally, we’ll talk about when it’s okay to spend energy, for example, when you’re riding for a teammate, at those make-or-break moments in the race, and when you smell blood in the water.

Our primary guest today is the always informative Colby Pearce, a racer, coach, bike fitter, thinker, tinkerer, and one of the most thoughtful and inquisitive bike racers we know.

Along with Colby we talked with Sepp Kuss, winner of the 2018 Tour of Utah, riding for the Jumbo-Visma WorldTour team.

Finally, we’ll touch base with another Canadian and world gran fondo champion Bruce Bird, who talks with us about how to read the field.

With that, fill that cookie jar with lots of cookies and get ready to eat them one by one. Let’s make you fast!

Fast Talk is available on all your favorite podcast services, including iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, and Soundcloud. If you enjoy the podcast, please take a moment to rate and comment on iTunes after listening.