Fixed Gear Crit

Training with Date #2: Alec Briggs ““No, I never go to the gym. It’s just so boring”

We talked to Alec Briggs in the second part of this series about training. The 24-year-old Britton is having a stellar season with the Specialized–Rocket Espresso team, winning ThunderCrit as well as Fiorino Crit and defending his Rapha Nocturne London title last month. The next Red Hook Crit in his hometown London is coming up. One would expect Alec, who studied Sports Science and Coaching, to have a Team-Sky-like ‘marginal gains’ approach. But for his training schedule, having fun is much more important than science.

Text: Date Burgerjon
Photography: Tornanti.cc

 Name Alec Briggs
 Date of birth 05-06-1993
 Hometown London
 Cycling since 8 years old
 Fixed gear since 8 years old on the track, 22 years old on the street
 Training hours a week 6-12
 of which fixed ±2 hours
 Work/Occupation DJ-ing, marketing consulting and art directing,
 Hours of work ± 30 (sometimes over 50)

Alec does not have his whole season mapped out during the winter. “It’s not that I’m having a serious plan in the winter. I ride my bike the whole year normally, some CX, some mountain biking, some track and some BMX. This winter I took some time off because I felt really tired after last season, so I did not ride my bike from October through February.” While some riders spend their winters in the gym, Alec does not. “No, I never go to the gym. It’s just so boring. Sometimes I’ll go swimming but that is it. Maybe I should though, I could do with some extra muscle mass and power, but I can’t get myself to go.” No long endurance rides for Alec either. “No, not really. Mostly 2-3 hour rides. In the build-up to a crit I might do a 6-8 hour ride. I don’t think it’s really important, with crits being so short.” And what about core stability training? “No, I don’t do that, or maybe when riding the skate park on a BMX.”

As a trainer/coach Alec is aware of the benefits from interval training. But when asked how often he does them, he says: “Not so much, I just try and race a lot, like three times a week. Two on the road and one on the track.” Alec finds that there isn’t any interval training that can beat the training effect from racing. “It is real easy for me to tell another athlete what to do, but when it comes to myself I find it really hard. I just try to do loads of different training and most of all to have fun”, Alec explains why he doesn’t have a strict training schedule.

It’s the same with the use of a power meter. Alec understands how useful it can be, but he does not own one. “It’s not that I don’t want to, but they are so expensive. And now I kind of made myself the guy who advocates you don’t need any expensive tools to train properly.”

Nevertheless Alec does use a roughly planned routine in the build-up to his season’s main goal: Red Hook Crit London. “So I start about 5 weeks before, two weeks of endurance work, then two weeks tapering (i.e. racing and resting) and the week before a lot of speed work on the rollers.”

Alec started racing his bike when he was 10 years old, both on the road and in the track. “I’ve been riding track for a long time but I got into fixed gear crit racing in 2015. I was at a road crit and my friend Raffaele Maccari asked if I was interested in doing some fixed gear crits. I loved it (…) for me the biggest difference was the technical part. In fixed gear crits the emphasis is on technique, where in road crits it’s more about power than technique. You have to be really technical to race fixed. There is just a lot more skill to it. And I think it’s more fun. I sometimes do a regular road race but they are so boring.”

Technique being so important in fixed gear racing, Alec does mainly technique training while training on his fixed gear bike. “We get our fixed gear bikes go to Crystal Palace Park, with about seven guys, and we start riding. There are some real technical corners there. And we go faster and faster and start racing each other.”

Just like his training Alec likes to mix up his work as well. “I worked about 40 hours last week. I’m doing a lot of different stuff. Creative marketing things, like planning photo shoots, give commercial advice. I’m also doing some DJ-ing. And I’m in the process of starting my own company trough alecbriggs.com”. With all these different jobs, it is not surprising that Alec views himself as an amateur cyclist.

Alec rides amateur road crits mainly. “And occasionally a pro crit, if I can get in to it. I can hang on.” Asked on how he experienced the level at Red Hook. “It’s definitely pro, it gives pro a new perspective. I mean it’s an elite sport. If you see Olympic track riders coming in that’s great, but during the race I have not seen them once. It’s a different sport. I always call it the UFC of Cycling.”