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by Steve Pucci

I want to tip off members of American cycling clubs about a secret and very effective training method developed in the north shore region of San Francisco. This technique is called dream training.

In it’s simplest form this method means that when you sleep at night you dream about what training that you wish to do…. That’s it! No pain, no rain, no trouble, no buying tires, it’s great! You come to the ( dream ) rides fitter and more competitive than ever and you will find yourself torturing your ( by now insomniac ) club mates.

But there are some dangers that can come from using this method unsupervised. Note the following example before you begin to use the method and make sure that you work with an experienced coach.

There was once a racer, we will call him Eddie O’ who became quite dependent on the dream method of workout… to the exclusion of any other training. He became so involved that he even began to dream race… a notoriously tricky event. Hear his tale and beware.

Ed found that in his dreams he could fly… much faster than his club and teammates…he had endurance, he had speed and he felt great as he awakened from a workout. He felt that with the right opportunity he could go far in the sport. Ed decided to go for it and base his entire season on the Dream World Championships to be held in the fall. He napped at work and dreamt of intervals, he slept soundly at night and did long steady distance, and sometimes tempo rides. Ed slept Saturday mornings until noon while his teammates trained and laughed at him.

"He’s going to pedal like a cow" they all said.

"He’s hooked up with some crackpot coach from California," they laughed and sneered.

Ed slept and slept… and got stronger and stronger, committed to his new program. After months of training - and six warnings for sleeping at work- Ed was prepared for the big race.

The worlds were this very night. With the anticipation, he could barely sleep during the work the day before the event, but his bike was ready, his bed was ready and he was as fit as he could possibly be. Ed calmly went to bed that night in his team clothing and with his very comfortable Diadora shoes on his feet. " They feel like slippers " he always said.

He put his bike in a big gear in the basement and instantly fell asleep.

Immediately he found himself at the starting line of the greatest World Championships ever held. At the start line were Merckx, Anquetil, Gimondi, Sean Kelly, Jalabert, Binda, Steenbergen, Moser, Basso , Lemond, Roger DeVlaeminck, Coppi, Bartali and every other great who raced a bicycle in the last 75 years. Ed was very nervous before the start, but after the gun was fired he became very calm. The race started out fast and furious with every era attacking the others to prove their superiority. Ed sat in the middle of the field as attack after attack was launched. Merckx’s teammates attacked early and only a massive effort by Bernard Thevenet brought Eddy’s boys back. Eddy surged hard as they were caught and only Coppi, Kelly, Jalabert and Ed were able to respond. This was the position that he had hoped for in all of his strategy sessions. He knew that the crucial break was complete and that he now had a place in the top five if he was able to maintain his position.

Ed felt strong even on the short climb before the start/finish line. He was not a great climber - even in his dreams- but his preparation was perfect.

Merckx attacked violently with two laps to go and no one was able to respond. Merckx got a 35 second gap that could not be closed despite the best efforts of Coppi, Jalabert and Kelly…Eddy could barely hang on to the group.

As they began the last lap, the race seemed lost. It was apparent that Merckx was in fact the greatest champion of all time. Ed saw his dream jersey slipping away. The four in the chase group began to ease up and dice for second place.

Then, as they began the final climb to the finish with just three kilometers to go, suddenly Merckx was off the bike and yelling to his team car! The vehicle was a bit back and by the time he got a new bike the group was energized and only about five seconds back. This new energy carried them forward and they immediately caught and again formed a single group at the top of the hill, with only two kilometers left to determine the greatest Champion of all time.

Coppi attacked right away but couldn’t escape because his bike only had a 52-14 gear… he was in real trouble here. Jalabert attacked hard but Kelly was on him and the others were right there.

One kilometer to go and it was all on the line, attack after attack, all to no avail as the best racers covered everything. As the sprint wound up with 600 meters to go Coppi took his only chance and tried to escape… the rest were on him and Coppi was removed from the picture…

Merckx then attacked as only he is able and got a tiny bit up the road but was not able to put away the others..Kelly sat on him and Ed was hard on Kelly’s wheel with Jalabert at the rear and Coppi 50 meters behind…

As they entered the final 200 meters Ed did not like his chances of sprinting with Kelly, Merckx and Jalabert but decided that his only chance would be to resurrect a move that had won him the field sprint for fifth at Marblehead one year. He flew to the front and got a tiny gap. He let up a bit and jumped on the first wheel that went by…Jalabert.

There was now 100 meters to go and Sean Kelly was screaming up Ed’s right side with the win perfectly timed and the Worlds finally in his grasp. It was a harsh decision but Ed had to lean out to the side and deny Kelly the room to clear a large iron fence on the side of the course. Kelly either had to stop pedaling or crash into the fence. Too bad Sean, you should have gone to the other side!

Merckx was on Kelly’s wheel so he to was denied the chance to win. Ed only had to come around Jalabert to realize his dream! He came around to his left and drew up on Jalabert’s rear wheel… time stood still…he inched ahead slowly as Jalabert grimaced and tried to hold him off.

Ten meters to go and Ed was now a wheel ahead. Ed knew that the cards had fallen his way. As his hands came off of the bars to make his greatest victory salute he heard a loud crash, bam, smash… and he flew head over heels out of bed.

As he sat on the floor and looked down at his road rash, a torn jersey and a broken table lamp, he asked his wife Mary Ann what had happened. She replied angrily.

" I told you last night that if you pulled the covers off of me one more time I was going to push you out of bed, so there! Now go to sleep"

Ed was disconsolate. His friends were not that sympathetic.

"You blew this whole season on that hare brained California program" they all said.

Ed knew in his heart that the truth would never be known and that he would live with this deep dark secret for the rest of his days. As he tried to recreate the moment of the race he always punctured,, blew on the climb or just got tired and missed the break. Sadly, he was never able to come back to the victory that he so justly deserved.

" I should have slept in the guest bed on the night of the race!" was Ed’s final comment. " This dream training has become a real nightmare!"

Ed’s experience shows the danger of relying on a training method that you don’t fully understand and working unsupervised without a trained coach.

© Wes Hobson Performance Inc.