NASCAR racing is a demanding endeavor for sure. Appearances, practice, travel, corporate responsibilities, family and of course the racing itself all take time and energy. On top of all that, it takes fitness.
As a cycling coach it’s fascinating to compare something like racing a car to what we’re used to…..riding the bike. NASCAR races are endurance events. The basic fitness, nutritional, strength and hydration requirements are huge. As example, these athletes can lose 5 to 10 pounds of water weight alone during any given race.
Cycling has become a great way to prepare for these demands for at least a few drivers. Aric Almirola has been at it for years and gave us a call to help. We look at Aric in the same way we do bike racers and, based on his numbers, he’s very capable on the bike. Cat 3 numbers but with the nerve and finishing skills of a pro driver would serve him well if (when?) he ever decides to hit up a local crit.
Aric is into his second build period and looking to soon be capable of 3.75+ watts per kilo at FTP. It hasn’t been easy. One of the most challenging things for an athlete and coach at any level is managing everything – personal life, work, sickness, injury, travel – while still hitting the numbers. Aric has been professional and passionate enough to get it done and it’s paying off.
Last Sunday Aric was winning the Daytona 500 with about a half of one lap to go. Average heart rate for the 3 hour and 56 minute race was 117, low zone 1 for him. He felt fantastic and looked fast….and then one of the most unfortunate crashes I can remember watching ended his day in 11th place officially. As frustrating as it was for everyone, the fact that he maintained such a low heart rate meant that the work load for him was less that it was for most and helped produce mental clarity and physical freshness at the end of an extremely demanding and almost 4 hour endurance effort.
If you’re wondering, Aric’s heart rate hit a max of 156 for the day when he crashed. That’s close but not even at his aerobic threshold (high end of zone 2). Just another example of the guys nerve and fitness.
Aric’s nutrition regimen, work on the bike and efforts in the gym have been awesome and will play a part in what is going to net him a stellar 2018 season. If you’re a bike racer and happen to tune into a NASCAR race this year know that there is a good chance that the guy driving the #10 car could keep up with you and your buddies on the bike, if not kick your @$$ outright.
We’re lucky enough to work with some very interesting and talented people here at Training Bible Cycling. Aric is definitely one of the most unique.
Good Luck and Go Fast!