Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain
26 MAY 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Les Fellgett, Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club coach
Providing beneficial but engaging training programmes is a challenge for any coach. When the area they have to work in is an oval track of around 70m in length it can be even more difficult.
“You’ve got your basis of a coaching session that you want to do, a little bit of fitness, a little bit of fun. How much of that and what the balance you give them depends well and truly on the night and how they respond to you” says Les Fellgett, coach at Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club and one of the few British Cycling Level 2 qualified coaches in the country who is involved in the sport.
“You have to watch the age if you are doing serious fitness work because obviously you don’t want to turn round and hurt any kids development.”
A session with one of the club’s younger squads may include start practice, using the track’s starting gate, and short races. Fellgett will also often incorporate drills that are fun but which help develop riders bike handling skills and team spirit such as riding under a limbo bar, a track stand competition or getting the riders to cycle in a line across the width of the track with one hand on their neighbours shoulder.
To help prepare its squad for a new season the club joins with Ipswich Skating Club each winter for fitness sessions where Tom Fell, the National Coach for the Federation of Inline Speed Skating, teaches riders a variety of exercises that they can continue doing during the week.
Some riders will race at one of the indoor events that take place during the winter though Fellgett, who raced for Woodbridge as a teenager, does not feel that continuous racing throughout the year is necessarily a good idea.
“It might keep riders more bike fit but we’ve seen it before that not necessarily the best riders outdoor win indoor. So if they do a little bit of mountain bike, a little bit of road throughout the winter I think that a change is as good as a rest because if you do something day in day out you just become bored of it.
“Generally the seniors will come into early season (training) fitter and they will be quicker on the bike instantly (than the juniors) the minute they actually hit the track because they know its coming up” says Fellgett the father of Club and GB Junior rider, Richard Fellgett. “If we’ve had a bad winter and its been wet on the track we might only have two or three weeks before the first race meeting so they’ve been doing what they can out of cycle speedway to keep themselves fit.
“I tend to push the seniors more for stamina more than anything so its more of a fitness based session really rather than gating and four laps because anybody can go round here and do four laps. To do four laps have a three minute break and then do four laps again really shows if you’ve got the fitness or not. In some spots in the formula that’s what you get, you’ll get two races on the trot, you might have a re-run in one of them, you could end up doing ten laps.
“One thing we do is chase the pack where they are all going round and one person will sprint. One guy had a Strava running the other week and we actually did five kilometres doing that round a seventy metre track and you can push that on for some time and then you can do a little bit of competitive gating, going for half laps so you’ll stop start, gate stop, gate stop then towards the end of the night, more as a leg killer really, I do what’s called The Pyramid.”
For this riders are lined up in pairs one behind another. First pair will sprint for a lap and as they come across the start line the next pair will go until they have all done one lap. By this time the lead pair have got lined up again so when the last pair have done one lap the first pair then sprint for two laps. Everybody then does two laps. Then the distance is built up so everybody does three laps, then four laps, then five laps, maybe six then the number of laps sprinted is decreased five, four, three, two, one.
“That works and you can see the riders who are actually bike fit when they start racing” says Fellgett, the current England and Great Britain Junior Team manager. “Sometimes they might be a little race rusty but they’ll actually be bike fit which I think is important.”
02 JUN 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Ipswich Cycle Speedway Coach Les Fellgett watches squad members practice their starting skills during a training session at the club’s track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain
Even though speed is a useful tool for a rider Fellgett puts little stock in lap times: “I don’t really think it proves too much because on the night the tracks can vary. This track can vary wildly, at the moment its a dust bowl. You’re not going to get a fantastic time because if you push it too hard you can get a little bit of slip coming out of the corner. Early season, end of season you’ll get a better time when the track is naturally damp.
Occasionally when we get the big events we will actually time the whole race so from a standing start you’ll quite often get them doing round about 41, 42 second four lap races.
“When there’s four of you in a race, whether that’s individual based or whether its team, one person can affect the outcome of that race quite easily. You’ve only got to get them to slow it down and get other people involved and you end up with a forty eight second race.”
Despite the contact nature of the sport Fellgett does not use any drills to specifically train his riders to jostle for position.
“Sometimes I will put the cones out so that people can’t cut across so they’re given that encouragement to get in for instance into the first bend from the gate but physical knocking about, we don’t actually do it as part of the training.
“Sometimes they will frustrate me in training because they’re knocking each other about and this is on the Tuesday night and they know that they’re racing somewhere on the Saturday which is important and you think ‘Its training. Yes it wants to be realistic but you don’t need to be killing yourself or killing each other.”
However despite the more serious nature of training for the seniors he still likes to retain fun elements to their programme. “Sometimes I will turn them around on the track and let them know we are going the wrong way but its very surprising, the best ones at turning left cannot turn right for love nor money, they can’t do cycle speedway backwards.”
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