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Old 11-07-09, 02:02 PM   #1
SteelCan
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Any tricks to max out cadence while out of the saddle during a sprint/attack?

Haven't raced anything but spirited group rides and training crits.
Still having trouble making that transition when you want to jump/pound on the pedals out of the saddle and then spin up as high as possible back IN the saddle.

Also find that I can't match an attack (by hopping out of the saddle) to catch someone's wheel. I find I am better off just increasing my cadence/speed and trying to draw them back in.

Best cadence I am getting out of the saddle is about 90 (but it's not a very smooth 90) The gearing is not the issue (52x12) as I can raise that when I am back in the saddle.

Been riding for a year and only in the past couple months have I been able to get a cadence above 125. (for the longest time, my pedal stroke was maxed @100, then 110 and now I have gotten above 125 on occasion and still feel smooth.
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Old 11-07-09, 02:44 PM   #2
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Haven't raced anything but spirited group rides and training crits.
Still having trouble making that transition when you want to jump/pound on the pedals out of the saddle and then spin up as high as possible back IN the saddle.

Also find that I can't match an attack (by hopping out of the saddle) to catch someone's wheel. I find I am better off just increasing my cadence/speed and trying to draw them back in.

Best cadence I am getting out of the saddle is about 90 (but it's not a very smooth 90) The gearing is not the issue (52x12) as I can raise that when I am back in the saddle.

Been riding for a year and only in the past couple months have I been able to get a cadence above 125. (for the longest time, my pedal stroke was maxed @100, then 110 and now I have gotten above 125 on occasion and still feel smooth.
Get into the 39x17 and sprint for all you're worth.
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Old 11-07-09, 03:46 PM   #3
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In my racing years, I won many a sprint....assuming you are sprinting for a city limits sign on the flat, you would shift up to a bigger gear....jump out of the saddle to accelerate the big gear up to about 100 or 110 rpm and then sit down and spin up the rpms. If it is a sprint from a shorter distance out you might stay out of the saddle the whole time. When you first get out of the saddle you are pulling with your arms, and the bike is going side to side....watch some youtube videos of TDF sprints and you see how much the back end of the bike is flexing and moving....lots of torque from the legs and the arms
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Old 11-07-09, 04:08 PM   #4
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spin drills
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Old 11-07-09, 07:52 PM   #5
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Try this when you think about your spin: Imagine that you're trying to scuff gum off your shoe rather than pound the pedal down.

Don't ask for further explanation; just go and try it. Report your findings.
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Old 11-07-09, 09:07 PM   #6
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try this when you think about your spin: Imagine that you're trying to scuff gum off your shoe rather than pound the pedal down.

Don't ask for further explanation; just go and try it. Report your findings.

qft
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Old 11-07-09, 11:24 PM   #7
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Spin ups.

Common mistake people make when matching an acceleration is to assume you need to increase torque. You don't need to go to a 53x12. Quite the opposite. That would be like trying to accelerate onto the freeway from 20mph by shifting your civic into 5th gear. No acceleration. Try shifting down. High cadence might cause your torque to be less (which is better for repeats) but since POWER is a function of cadence and torque you will find that you accelerate better and faster, plus you will be able to repeat.

I hate to say practice practice practice, but it is the truth. Stop mashing the big gears. I would recommend form sprints, spin ups, and/or fixie work with a very light gear for you. Stay out of the big ring at all costs in training for it, and try shifting to a BIGGER cog when you want to accelerate.

Huge difference.
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Old 11-08-09, 12:09 AM   #8
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Read and really digest what the doc wrote. There's really good info there.
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Old 11-08-09, 12:56 AM   #9
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Spin ups.

Common mistake people make when matching an acceleration is to assume you need to increase torque. You don't need to go to a 53x12. Quite the opposite. That would be like trying to accelerate onto the freeway from 20mph by shifting your civic into 5th gear. No acceleration. Try shifting down. High cadence might cause your torque to be less (which is better for repeats) but since POWER is a function of cadence and torque you will find that you accelerate better and faster, plus you will be able to repeat.

I hate to say practice practice practice, but it is the truth. Stop mashing the big gears. I would recommend form sprints, spin ups, and/or fixie work with a very light gear for you. Stay out of the big ring at all costs in training for it, and try shifting to a BIGGER cog when you want to accelerate.

Huge difference.
and another one - a big QFT
during this off season I'm trying to use my big ring as little as possible - even trying to do group rides entirely in the small ring - it is worth it during the season when spinning @115 feels like a perfectly normal place to start spinning up for an attack
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Old 11-08-09, 09:46 AM   #10
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Long one.

While I agree that higher rpms gives you more power (torque x rpm = hp, kinda sorta), when I'm tired I can't spin. Since I'm tired once a race gets, oh, like 20 minutes old, this means I have to do something other than spin like mad when I sprint.

Plus, if you're spinning like mad, you're relatively unstable (relative to 90-110 rpm). You're unable to adapt to an unexpected circumstance. For example, if I'm spinning at 200 rpm and I need to suddenly swerve to avoid a big crash, it's harder to do so than at 80 or 90 rpm. Or say someone really leans hard into me because they want me to move over. If I'm spinning at 200 rpm I'll be much less stable than at even 110-120 rpm.

Just to set down some numbers, I'm comfy spinning at 100-110 rpms consistently when using 170 cranks. My TTs and FTP tests tend to average about 110-112 rpms until I blow, then I drop to something like 70-80 rpms. On 175 cranks, take about 15-20 rpms off the numbers. I sprint at rpms anywhere from 70 to 120+, and I've won and lost sprints at all sorts of rpms. I don't think I won one at 70 rpms, but I did pass a bunch of people.

Anyway...

Therefore, although it's good to do various spin drills, and it's good to be comfy at higher rpms, it's not necessarily what you want to do in a race or group riding situation.

When you respond to an attack, you need to increase power. Like mentioned before, you can get power in two different ways. Like automobile engines, you can do it using higher torque (somewhat lower rpms) or lower torque (somewhat higher rpms).

I think that I'm a wheezing diesel compared to Doc, therefore I can't afford to spin up too much - if I do, I explode. Instead, I need to take advantage of my torque.

Ultimately you want max out power, not necessarily max out cadence. Yes, you need to max out power to spin a 53x12 at 125 rpm. But that's pretty serious speed. I don't have my handy dandy cadence gear spreadsheet in front of me but I think it's north of 40 mph. If that's what it takes to respond to a "non-racing" attack (group rides and training crits), you're training with some pretty fast riders.

What I find newer racers do (i.e. those that are fit but haven't been racing for many years, so don't have some of the cycling musculature built up yet) is spin more than necessary. They lack the ultimate torque to turn over the big gears, so they naturally compensate by spinning lower gears higher. It's like my low-torque winter car - I have to rev the heck out of it to get it going "fun", with the car responding, sort of, once I hit 3-4k rpm. My other car, a bit more "conditioned", can accelerate firmly from 1200 rpm (it has twice the torque at 1200 rpm as my other car does max).

However, as racers acclimate to the somewhat unnatural cycling motion, they tend to build up that missing power, developing stronger glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, etc. They also get better at using their upper body to counteract the pushing-down-with-more-than-body-weight downstrokes, so they can coordinate multiple downstrokes of immense power (relatively speaking).

As an illustration of this, ride no-handed on a trainer (or if you're skilled, rollers or the road - I'm not skilled enough to do this, at least the following part). Pedal as hard as you can, no handed. You'll lift yourself out of the saddle, even if it's just slightly. When you can anchor your body securely at high rpms against that "body float", you're doing well.

So, with the original situation - accelerate out of the saddle initially, then keep accelerating while sitting - this is what happens.

First, when you get out of the saddle, you increase your wind resistance. However, you can really anchor your body securely (because you're pulling on the bars), giving you a stable platform from which you can really put out a lot of lower-rpm torque. You accelerate until you start to max out your speed/cadence.

Then you sit, reducing your wind profile. You accelerate a bit simply from that, if you really have a lower wind profile. If you can keep accelerating, great. If not, you maintain speed. I think that it's very possible I'm more aero sprinting out of the saddle than I am sitting, since I'm close to my aero tuck while sprinting (way over the bars). I don't know definitively, but my point is that it's possible that sprinting in the saddle is not more aero than standing, esp for shorter people like me.

For me that "stage one" out of saddle acceleration is probably about 110-120 rpms max, and I like to jump (apparently, based on power data where ideal jump rpm = max instant power) from 90-100 rpm. Therefore I accelerate maybe 2 mph (8 or so rpm) to 5 mph (20 rpm) in one gear.

If I start to spin out, I stay standing and shift up again. A typical sprint is two shifts, unless I jump in a huge gear or very, very late (like 30-40 meters from the line due to being boxed in). Then it may be just one shift, or, in extreme cases, I jump in my biggest gear and therefore can't shift.

Note: I rarely contest downhill sprints since my only strength, my jump, is practically useless in such sprints. Most of the sprints I contest are uphill, with some flat ones that suit me (since they come off of a downhill last turn a couple hundred meters from the finish). So when I say jump in my biggest gear, it usually means on an uphill finish since that's when I tend to lean towards lower rpms - on flat sprints I tend to sprint in too low a gear. I've also shifted up and down in a sprint, as the terrain changes and I realize I have something left in my legs. Note over.

When I start to lose that acceleration, I usually just keep sprinting out of the saddle. I've hit my max speeds while out of the saddle, so that's what I do. I've experimented, maybe 1000 plus sprints in practice. I'm figuring 15 weeks of sprints (3-4 months), 15 sprints every Tues (leading out every other sprint, so not 30+ sprints), for 5-6 years, and that's just for SUNY Purchase sprints. Then maybe 100 Route 120 sprints at Gimbles, and some crazy number of sprints on my own. I've figured out what works for me, and I'm willing to try outlandish things to make sure they don't work.

If I sit it means I'm dead, can't accelerate, and am hanging on for dear life. Usually it means I've overestimated my sprint, or I've gone from way far out because I thought it would suit me tactically (jump, get a gap, and hold gap to the line). It's very unusual for me to do that, but I've done it in very unusual situations.

If I'm gear limited (like on the track), I have to sit, because I'm not coordinated enough (or practiced enough) to sprint at, say, 160 rpm in a gear while standing and trying to go around only slightly banked curves. So I sit and hit maybe 130 rpm. I haven't sprinted enough on the track to know what my limitations are, but for now it's 34 mph in a 90 inch gear (50x15). Compared to my road sprinting, I've done maybe 25 sprints on the track, and I can't say I've felt like I've done a good effort on any of them - jump too late, can't hold the lower lines on the track, haven't practiced seated sprinting, etc etc etc.

How do you increase your top speed? This is gear independent, i.e. it's not focusing on gearing, it's focusing on top speed and having you experiment with what works for you.

http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...sprinting.html

Basically you find a spot that allows you to lead yourself out for a sprint (i.e. a downhill) followed by a sprint friendly straight. Use it as your sprint scale, and work on going as fast as possible. I find that I go fastest by sprinting until I can hit a certain rpm in a gear, then trying the next highest gear. Usually my sprints will be something like this:
1. Jump in a 14, start to lose the sensation of the pedals under you, go to the 13, start to spin it out but you may have something left in your legs, then 12, feel totally bogged down in that last gear. Go around and try again.
2. Jump in 14, then the 13, and when I'm out of the saddle, sprinting my brains out, and I think that I'm pretty well maxed out in the 13, try and pedal faster (not harder; think faster). Go around again.
3. If the 13 worked, then try and sprint until I feel like I'm pedaling faster than I can apply power efficiently. Usually I shift, i.e. into the 12, and get bogged down. Go around and try again. Repeat until legs are fried and the 13 is getting hard to move.

After doing that a few times, it's clear that (in this example) the 13 is good, the 12 is too high. So my goal is to get a 12.5 gear (one that's between the 12 and 13). You can do this because a 1 tooth jump at the high end is usually 10+ gear inches, but if you go 2 teeth smaller on your chainring, it's about a 5% decrease.

Therefore I go home, rummage through my chainrings, and put on a chainring that's about 2-3 teeth smaller (use the same cogs) or larger (use one cog larger) than my big chainring. So I put a 51 on, or a 55.

If it's a 51, I use the same cogs, and usually I can go in the 12 (because now it's a 12.5). Then I work until I want to shift to the 11, but then I bog, then I go back to my normal chainring, and usually I can go in the 12.

If I go to a bigger ring (typically 54, but I'm saving a 55 for some special occasion), then I add a tooth to the above cogs, and usually I can do the 12 equivalent (i.e. 55x13, or kinda sort like a 53x12.5). Then I work on doing the 55x12, in this case.

You can start with a 51 chainring, and when you get to a trouble gear, go 53 (plus 1 cog), or go from a 52 to 54/55.

At the same time, don't be afraid to try something outrageous.

When I started getting into riding, I wanted to know what I "needed" to do to race well. I asked a friend of mine what gear he'd use in a race going up Wolfpit Road in Wilton - it's a steep as heck road, at least one pitch.

49x14 (53x15 equivalent)

What??? I didn't believe him. I'd be in trouble going up in my "fast climbing gear" of 34x21. Luckily, since we had 4 of 7 classes together, I pestered him non-stop for a few months. Then it finally got warm enough to ride outside. I rode the hill in the big ring (48x19) for the first time in my life. Then the 48x17. 48x15. And I did each gear twice to make sure it wasn't beginner's luck.

I finally collapsed halfway up in a 48x14, but I'd done so many repeats my legs were fried.

Story here:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...ic-and-me.html

After that epiphany (I was 14 years old), whenever I felt like I needed to ramp up my game a bit, I'd do some stupid big gear attack on group rides. Any hill under 400 meters was eligible game, and I'd attack up these things in a 53x13 or 12. I'd blow up spectacularly of course, but the point is that I'd try and remind myself that, look, you need to keep an open mind, you need to try weird things, because if you don't, you start limiting yourself.

(This whole open mind thing doesn't work for me for my ftp - no matter what I think is possible "Hell, I'll just go and do 400 watts, I know I can" I just explode a minute or two into my alleged 20 minute effort. So my theory here has individual limitations. But you get the gist of the idea.)

Hope this helps,
cdr
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Old 11-08-09, 02:04 PM   #11
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One trick to get some more RPMs is to lock your ankles at like 95 degrees or so (toes very slightly pointed). Then just don't let that angle change. You should be able to find another 10 or 20 rpm.
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Old 11-08-09, 03:54 PM   #12
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When I attack (I'm trying to remember the last time I did), I usually start out at about 90 rpm--it allows me to accelerate fast (usually up to 125+) and then shift back down such that I'm back at 90 rpm. I rarely ever touch anything higher than my 52x13, unless I'm going downhill.
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Old 11-08-09, 04:05 PM   #13
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Thank you for all the info.
I came back from a morning 50mile group ride, read all the posts (CarpeDiem, I read yours a few times to try to make it all "sink-in") and went out for another 20miles trying to incorporate a few of the tips.
Will be back to read this again just before my next ride.

Thanx again for all the comments. (fwiw, small group today. The two known sprinters on the ride said I definitely should be riding two gears UP at this time of year. That I have to "teach" my muscles to sustain a higher cadence. For the first time ever, I am averaging 78-80rpm over the course of a group ride (but when we are in known breakaway locations and tiny So. Jersey 2-3degree grades, I am up above 90). When I first started a year ago, I was maybe making 70. (and getting dropped a lot after a pull and not "catching" that last wheel as I drifted back)
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Old 11-09-09, 02:41 PM   #14
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okay i have been following this thread and ahve a few questions;

i have been doing a sprint intervals on a square shaped route. on the flat and longest side i would gear to 52/13 and give it the gusto, really hard. corner hard and then use the other 3/4 of the 1.6 miles route to recover for the next "sprint." i figured this would be good training for a higher average speed in crits as well as develope my ability to handle spikes in heart rate and LA buildup. i have judged progress based off of 1.) average speed over x amount of laps, simple enough and 2.) how i felt along the way; with the idea being if i am sprint haard and fast i am getting the average speed up and forcing myself to recover fast so i can keep that spped up around the rest of the track. using that methodology i start with an ave. of 18.5-19mph and noe (2.5 weeks of this 4-5 times a week i am now at 21-21.5mph) so i though i was doing well...

then i read this and it seems that i should be shifting down and sspinning faster, seemed conterintuitive but most things are...

so i went out today and spin at a much higher cadence, near 100, though to do this this forced me off the 52 and onto the 42 ring. thus my average speed was much lower on the ride. tried again doing two sprints per lap and still average speed much lower 18.5-19. i can absolutely understand and agree that the faster cadence and spooling gives me a much higher delta of accelaration than mashing the 52-13, though it does give me a lower top end speed.

what should my benchmarks and goals be when doing sprint intervals at the much higher cadence? how do i track the progess? obviously average mph over the ride is not the way. is this jsut another story of mashers versus spinners? or are there hard and fast rules to this stuff?

***note: i am NO sprinter. 23 yrs old 120 lbs, 8% body fat, and small thighs! so i am inherently a climber, but i want to learn explosive power and up the pain threshold

thanks for ANY advice
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Old 11-09-09, 03:58 PM   #15
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If you want to up the pain threshold, then go climb. If it doesn't hurt, then go harder.

Pretty simple, really.

Also, were you using a little hill to get up towards leadout speed, and then gunning it?

Listen, there's really not too much to sprint training. Go out and pick a gear that's right, and then when you pick that you should go one gear easier. The go do some repeats and track your performance.

When it comes to racing and sprinting, your sprint power matters about as much as your timing and tactics.

Oh and pulling up on your bars is good for 100-200W if you do it right. That's what sprint training is for: to get your system to synergize and work together. That's where the watts come from.

Last edited by ridethecliche; 11-09-09 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 11-09-09, 04:18 PM   #16
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qft

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and another one - a big QFT
during this off season I'm trying to use my big ring as little as possible - even trying to do group rides entirely in the small ring - it is worth it during the season when spinning @115 feels like a perfectly normal place to start spinning up for an attack
So we're all just ignoring this guy now? I didn't get the memo.
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Old 11-09-09, 04:24 PM   #17
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A few things.

1. Experiment with gearing. A good exercise is to alternate sprints between a 53x15 and 53x13. At first the 13 will seem harder because of the higher peak torque, but later the 15 will seem harder as your legs refuse to spin up.

2. Shift during your sprint. When sprinting on my own, from a rolling start (15-20 mph), I'll usually jump in a 53x15, maybe 53x17. I only get a couple pedal strokes before I shift up, so on and so forth.

Shifting during sprints requires that you have your shifters in a spot where you can reach them while sprinting. My brifters are situated so that I can shift up or down while I'm sprinting:



Jump in a lower gear and shift up as you start feeling like the pedals are moving faster than your feet (the pedals will feel like they're dropping out from under your feet). This shift/sprint would be a different drill from the alternating gear sprint thing.

3. Focus on peak speed, not average speed. When I work on sprints I typically average 12-15 mph for a ride. I usually go 5-10 mph between sprints after the first few. When I work on more ftp type stuff, I'll go faster. During sprint work I'll carefully note my top speeds and cadence if possible (in the old days - now I just let the SRM record it). If you have max speed on your cyclo-computer reset it after each sprint.

hope this helps,
cdr
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Old 11-09-09, 05:57 PM   #18
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I guess im a little different with my sprints.
Before i getting ready to sprint, im usually in the 110-120rpm zone. thats my comfortable cadence at speeds above 20mph. and as soon as theres an attack or sprint i shift down to a bigger cog which brings me back to around 95rpms and accelerate and spin up to rpms as high as 130 and then shift down one more time to finish off the sprint. I've never gone to the last 2 or maybe even 3rd smallest cogs in a sprint, spinning is winning.
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Old 11-09-09, 06:03 PM   #19
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So we're all just ignoring this guy now? I didn't get the memo.
It was lost betwixt CDR's walls of text.

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Old 11-09-09, 06:25 PM   #20
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When CDR was in elementary school, his teacher told the class to write a one page summary on their summer vacation.

His was single spaced, curb to curb, and a font size around 8 (and he still never got past June).
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Old 11-09-09, 06:28 PM   #21
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I love CDR's posts. There's few people who I deem worthwhile for reading a page of post - but CDR's one of them. Keep em coming.
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Old 11-09-09, 06:38 PM   #22
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I love CDR's posts. There's few people who I deem worthwhile for reading a page of post - but CDR's one of them. Keep em coming.
Couldn't agree more!
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Old 11-09-09, 06:45 PM   #23
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When CDR was in elementary school, his teacher told the class to write a one page summary on their summer vacation.

His was single spaced, curb to curb, and a font size around 8 (and he still never got past June).


good stuff though.
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Old 11-09-09, 08:24 PM   #24
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and another one - a big QFT
during this off season I'm trying to use my big ring as little as possible - even trying to do group rides entirely in the small ring - it is worth it during the season when spinning @115 feels like a perfectly normal place to start spinning up for an attack
Yup, New Britain CT used to have a spring series and sometimes I'd do the A race in the small ring for practice until the last lap. (I may have had a 42t in those days)
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Old 11-09-09, 09:11 PM   #25
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thanks cdr,
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