Whether you’re a racer looking to replicate race conditions in training, or a coach seeking new ways to help your athletes, motorpacing is a proven step on the path to a successful season. In this piece, Dr. Allen Lim of Skratch Labs takes you through the basics of motorpacing, showing you how to perform this powerful training exercise both effectively and safely.
It all comes down to specificity. There’s simply no other way to replicate both the speed and the power that an athlete will encounter within the peloton. When you’re racing in the peloton, your power profile is going to be extremely stochastic, undulating up and down despite a relatively constant speed. So, with a scooter, I’m able to maintain a high constant speed, and in order for the rider to keep up with me, they’re forced to perform the same type of power profile as they would in a race peloton.
The first thing to remember is that it’s all about safety. You’ll notice that, as a driver, I go to whatever lengths necessary to keep myself safe, first and foremost. That means wearing a full-face helmet, a protective jacket, gloves, and even protective boots. And of course, you’ll need a scooter that’s well maintained. After that, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a race, it’s just training. Remembering this, you need to be mindful of the rider — maintain communication, and don’t take any undue risks.
You also need to identify where the heaviest risks are on the road — where things typically go haywire is in the corners. Realize that a cyclist can almost always take a corner at a greater speed than a scooter. So, what I always like to do is to back off before the corner, let the rider come around me, let them take the corner first, and then follow them through and pick them up afterwards. This way, you’re creating a nice fluid dynamic between yourself and the rider.
If you’re going to be scooterpacing frequently, I recommend mounting a cycling computer to your scooter. And if your rider is also using a powermeter, you’re able to code your computer to their powermeter and actually watch their wattage while your pacing them. This way, you’re able to see if the speed that you’re holding is within the range of the power that your cyclist wants to achieve in that training session.