Road to Leadville: Wiens’ Gerhard Workout (or Fo Ahz Hahd)

"Fo ahz hahd": Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger saying, "four hours hard." That's a workout Dave Wiens learned years ago from Euro rider Gerhard Zadrobilek.

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Editor’s Note: For six-time LT100 winner Dave Wiens, the road to Leadville is a well-trodden route, one he’s written on and off about over the last few years in a training diary on the Ergon blog. Leading up to the August race Dave is once again chronicling his training, which we’ll have here on So, without further ado, here’s Dave:

By Dave Wiens

Sunday, July 18 – Today was the first time this year that I had a go at one of my all time favorite workouts.  It’s simple but effective and I got it from one of the original Euro mountain bikers, Gerhard Zadrobilek, back in the early ‘90s. Gerhard rode for 7-11 on the road back in the day and was a Red Bull rider as he finished his career back then in the dirt. In 1991, Red Bull was, ironically, an obscure energizing drink out of Austria.

Gerhard liked to do a ride that phonetically sounds like, “fo ahz hahd.” Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger saying, “four hours hard.” That’s how Susan and I describe it; you have to use the Austrian/German accent.  And, it’s just what it sounds like; riding for four hours hard. Road, mountain, both, it doesn’t matter, but if you can do fo ahz hahd, you likely have pretty good fitness. You can’t just get up off the couch and do fo ahz hahd, either. No, fo ahz hahd, at least for me, is only attempted once I have pretty good legs under me and I finally felt ready for my first fo ahz hard of 2010.

I started with a lap of the Original Growler course out at Hartman Rocks. Lots of undulating, physical, technical singletrack. It’s amazing how this kind of riding requires so much more of your body than just road riding or even mountain biking that isn’t that technical, like the Leadville course.  It’s the ledgy climbing and multiple step up moves that require you to use your upper body and core; you can’t just drive the pedals and steer, you are constantly lifting and placing your front wheel and then working to get your body and the rest of the bike to follow.

I finished a decent Growler lap and then decided to pound about 5 miles of flat pavement to a demanding 1,200 foot climb to the top of Signal Mesa. This climb is loose and punchy with a wicked kicker right at the top. If I can climb that kicker, I’m always psyched. Well, on the lower slopes of this climb, it was apparent that I had lost some steam. By the time I could see the top bit, I knew there was no way I’d be able to stay on my bike so I picked a water dip about half-way up and, upon achieving that, hopped off an slogged up and over the steep crest. I was straightup done and turned for home.

I was out for over four hours, but fo ahz hahd had become three hours hard and one and half hours blown, not said in an Austrian German accent. You must deserve the accent! I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow but I know that I have to be in Canon City at 8am for work and that I will not be bringing my bike.

Here is the summary of the week:

Weekly Total:   16 hours (I’m surprised. That’s a pretty big week for the nebulous training plan that is only swirling between my ears. Look for less volume next week.)

Monday July 12 – 90 minutes of AMU on the road. Road bike, flat terrain. 2 hours total.

Tuesday July 13 – 2 sets of 4, 20-40’s off-road, Signal Peak. Good HR’s to around 170bpm. 2,000 vertical, 1.5 hours.

Wednesday July 14 – JR MTB at Hartmans. 1,500 vertical. 1.5 hours.

Thursday July 15 – Nothing.

Friday July 16 – Monarch Crest on the MTB. JR 5,000 vertical, 4 hours.

Saturday July 17 – Steady on the road with Griggsy. Ohio Creek area, flat, dirt climbs. 2,000 vertical, 2.5 hours.

Sunday July 18 – *fo ahz hahd Growler lap, Signal Mesa.  5,300 vertical, 4.5 hours.

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