Ex-Postie Robbie Ventura and realRides deliver a crit-oriented intensity training DVD. 2004, Color, Approx 90min.
Originality: 5. I hate training videos. But calling this “just” a training video is a kind of like calling the Poggio “just” a hill. Its main training feature is an uncut, rider’s eye view recording of a race, complete with live commentary, heartrate, cadence and power statistics, plus some basic tips on racing and pack riding. Useful, unique and compelling stuff.
Watchability: 5. As soon as you get this DVD, throw it in the player and just sit down and watch the race sequence. If you don’t, you’ll never stay focused on your workout because you’ll be too drawn into the plot of the race. Once that’s out of the way, the DVD provides a great way to stay motivated for intensity work on that fiendish turbo trainer. It doesn’t hurt that Robbie “Mr Hollywood” Ventura has great screen presence (unlike some other training video personalities I could mention).
Variety: 3. Really, the lack of variety in the training material (only the “Warm-Up” and “Race” sections are training specific) was my only beef with this DVD. There’s plenty of different mini-features to play around with, and break up the monotony of trainer riding, but having only one actual race is kind of a let down. With 4.7 gigs of space on a DVD, and under 90 minutes of total footage in this video, it’s not like there’s no room to spare.
Style: 4. Training DVDs and style generally go together like Armstrong and Simeoni, but Race Day pulls it off pretty well. The music is entirely decent (reminds me of some of the tracks from Reasonable Doubt) and the camerawork finds a good middle ground between drearily slow and nauseatingly fast. Ventura knows how to talk to the camera, and little touches, like placing the “hero cam” just far enough the right that viewers can tell when Robbie is shifting, really keep it tight.
Bonus Features: 3. There are no bonus features in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly more on this DVD than just training footage. In addition to the teaser for the next realRides video (it apparently involves Floyd Landis wailing on Ventura in the hills), there’s an absolutely great course preview section, and a little cooldown mini-feature on just kind of enjoying the scene at a big bike race. Still, the lack of quantity hurts
Final Thoughts: If you like bike racing, this is a pretty freakin’ sweet video. You really have to experience training along to the race in this to appreciate how much better it is than riding the trainer, watching The Godfather, and pretending an attack goes every someone gets whacked. This DVD could be useful for a pretty wide range of riders, too: the more experienced will love trying to match Ventura’s accelerations (300% of 20k TT pace coming out of corners), while novice racers (especially that one guy who swears he’ll never race a crit) will gain a ton from Robbie’s knowledge and enthusiasm.