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  1. #1
    Senior Member Debusama's Avatar
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    Trying to become a sprinter midseason

    About a month ago, all around the same time I:
    1. Moved into a new house 2. Started a month-long class that takes place on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings 3. Broke a shifter cable on my road bike.
    I have been very busy working/going to class/moving into my new house and fixing up my old house so I can rent it out. Because of my hectic schedule and the class taking place on my race days I have not been motivated enough to make time to fix my race bike and do any road training. Some of the benefits of the move, however, are that I am located just a few blocks from my favorite network of mountain bike trails in town, and I am also a good commuting distance from work/school/downtown.

    For the last month my riding has consisted of about 3 45-minute to 1-hour mountain bike rides per week, and 10-15 miles of commuting around town on a single speed cross bike every day. Because of the nature of mountain biking (alternating periods of freewheeling in technical sections/descents, and accelerating back up to speed), and riding around a somewhat hilly City (mostly short, 100-200 foot climbs) on a single speed bike (spinning at max RPM down hills and on flats and sprinting up hills to maintain momentum on a 16t cog while climbing, I知 feeling like my acceleration and anaerobic fitness has improved quite a bit but I知 sure my endurance has gone to ****.

    My last day of class is tomorrow and I知 all moved in so I have no excuse not to fix my rode bike and start riding it again. I have traditionally been more of a climber/breakaway rider, and I have only done crits when they are part of a stage race or to get a few points in a series. There are still some points to be had this season in my area, mostly in crits, but there are a few road races too. I definitely want to start racing again, but I知 thinking that for the rest of the season I might change up my style and instead of riding in the front to chase down the breaks and attack the hills, I値l sit in the pack a little more and save it for the sprints (I still might attack short hills if they池e near the end of a race) and do more of the local crits/circuit races. The race community in my area is pretty small and most of us know each other and where we are dangerous. Although I知 not genetically predisposed to anaerobic power, I think I may find some success for a while due to the element of surprise. I知 sure I値l go back to my normal climbing self next year.

    Has anyone ever tried to do something like this? How did it work out for you?
    Cat-3 Fred

  2. #2
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    You'll know pretty quickly if this will work for you.

    For the most part guys who aren't pure sprinters need fitness to set up their sprint...the race needs to be hard enough to make the sprinters really work and not just follow wheels.

    I'll sit in once in a while...if it's a field deal I do OK but seldom grab the top step.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Debusama's Avatar
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    You may be right; I probably won’t be able to beat the pure sprinters. I still feel confident about being able to hang on through some hills where they might have been dropped or cracked. Hopefully I’ll be able to out sprint the people who are left in the pack.

    I’m still relatively new to racing, and I sometimes wonder if I might have prematurely misjudged what my natural strengths are simply because my first few wins came on a hill climb and a breakaway that started with an attack on a climb. In a cat-5 pack I’m sure just about anyone who can keeps their body-weight relatively low and trains on hills can be the first to the top of a hill regardless of genetic predispositions. If I don’t end up doing well in any sprints this season, I suppose the worst case scenario will be that I have to wait another year for Cat-3. It’s still better than not racing at all, and at least I’ll know that I’m definitely not a sprinter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    You'll know pretty quickly if this will work for you.

    For the most part guys who aren't pure sprinters need fitness to set up their sprint...the race needs to be hard enough to make the sprinters really work and not just follow wheels.

    I'll sit in once in a while...if it's a field deal I do OK but seldom grab the top step.
    Cat-3 Fred

  4. #4
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Do not underestimate the power required to stay in the field if you have not been training consistently. If you do want to take this route, try and stretch out your commute at least two days per week to criterium distance, and do some sprint work on either bike on the other days.

  5. #5
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    It's easy to tell if you're a sprinter - if you do a group ride and wonder why no one else sprinted for the sprint at the end of the group ride, you're a sprinter. Or if you think you sprinted to the wrong sign because everyone is so far back and going really slow. Or you sprinted on the wrong lap because no one is sprinting behind you, at least not that you can tell. Or you sit up well before the actual sign/line/whatever because you're already 50 feet ahead of the next guy. Or you're about to jump and you're wondering why everyone is going so slow 100 meters from the line.

    Seriously, that'll be your experience if you're a sprinter and you don't know it yet.

    If those scenarios seem foreign to you then you need to figure out a different way to try and win races.

  6. #6
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    I get the impression you think sprinters need to train less.. And I don't believe that's true.

    But fwiw the element of surprise is indeed your friend - if you get the jump on people, you don't need to be the best sprinter in the field. I know because I've done it and it works.

    If you like to attack, just wait until the last 1/2 lap to do so, don't be an idiot and go solo with 30 minutes to go, thinking you're superman. Most of us ain't.

    My $0.02.
    cat 1.

    blog

  7. #7
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    I get the impression you think sprinters need to train less.. And I don't believe that's true.
    I've raced against guys who held world records at sprint distances, and a 2 time Olympian on the track. They can spend a month on the beach, step out of a bar after a six pack and a Philly Cheesteak and win.

    They just don't win as often if they don't train.

    Most of the people that pass as "sprinters" are called "pack fodder" once you get up the food chain. You don't see a lot of them in the lower ranks because they tend to blow through in a hurry.

  8. #8
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    A sprinter's jump is essentially genetic. My peak power doesn't change much whether I've been training or not.

    What does change is how much of that peak power is available to me at the end of the race, if I even get there. Except for 2 races I haven't finished a race since sometime in earlier June, and in those two races I had nothing for the sprint. My races have lasted about 15-20 minutes before I get shelled.

    My point is that one cannot train to be a sprinter. One can save energy and do a good sprint relative to one's potential, but one cannot increase peak power simply by training.

    Having said that, if you're finding yourself slightly outgunned in the finale, like losing by a bike length or two at most, then you can probably find that speed through tactical adjustments.

    If you're getting 7th or whatever but the winner is 50 feet in front of you, you need to find a different way to do better. It's not going to happen in a normal sprint.

    I have seen non-sprinters win extremely hard fought sprints. They go hard from so far out that they shell everyone before they get to the line, or if there is anyone left, they can't jump around. It usually takes a sustained 38-40 mph effort, maybe 400 meters or so, ideally after a turn that stretches out the field. I've also had leadout men ride me right off their wheel (accidentally) at slower speeds, like 35-37 mph, in gusty wind. I've also had to go early because the leadout was too slow at 39 mph (going into an uphill sprint with no wind).

  9. #9
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    This is a really good thread. REx/CDR...I hear what you're saying and I agree for the most part. A donkey will never turn into a race horse. Improvements can be made though and I'm living proof.

    Up until a couple of months ago my sprinting had been sitting on a solid plateau. However, I'm currently riding an unexpected wave of improvements. My AC training has mostly consisted of a single ~10 second sprint maybe 4x/week starting in May...40 seconds/week plus a handful of sprints in races. Somehow this has brought up my 1 second 150 watts, 5 sec is up 200, and 10 sec up 350 since a year ago. I'm still not a sprinter, but it's given me options I never expected to have.

  10. #10
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    My peak sprint number goes down as the season wears on and I move away from strength/weight training. Put me in the gym and I can get another 150-200w fairly quickly. But that's it. What CDR is saying about his peak power staying the same jives with some of the other sprinters I know. They don't lose a whole lot if they aren't training. We non-sprinters can improve, but it's not to the same degree as untrained people can improve FTP.

  11. #11
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    Thanks - mark me down as a non-sprinter....also mark the non-FTP'er box.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    This is a really good thread. REx/CDR...I hear what you're saying and I agree for the most part. A donkey will never turn into a race horse. Improvements can be made though and I'm living proof.

    Up until a couple of months ago my sprinting had been sitting on a solid plateau. However, I'm currently riding an unexpected wave of improvements. My AC training has mostly consisted of a single ~10 second sprint maybe 4x/week starting in May...40 seconds/week plus a handful of sprints in races. Somehow this has brought up my 1 second 150 watts, 5 sec is up 200, and 10 sec up 350 since a year ago. I'm still not a sprinter, but it's given me options I never expected to have.
    The 10 sec, and if you can track 20 sec, numbers are critical. For me a sprint is about 18-19 seconds long. I know because none of them have been long enough to give me a 20 second number.

    +350w for 10 sec is huge, and if you can do a big improvement on the 20 sec number, that's huge too. Your 1 sec (or peak?) is going to be more limited genetically but the 20 second number is starting to get into training. I know my 19 second number will go up by 200-300w when I'm fit.

  13. #13
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    I track the peak via 1 sec duration on the graph. It's w/in a few watts of the instantaneous.

    Thanks for the tip on the 20 second number. I checked and 20 secs is up 200 watts but all of my top 20 sec efforts have been freebies from shorter sprints. My record is a left over from a 14 second sprint. I'm going to identify a new finish line that will ensure that I keep on it through at least 20 seconds. How much trouble might I get in if I got caught spray painting a line across the road?

    I guess it's time to increase my training load from 40 secs/week to 80...where am I going to find that kind of time?

  14. #14
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    As of today 20 secs is up 412 on the year, 267 lifetime. A lot of this is definitely due to the length of the samples though.

    It's cool to see these improvements. The increases are much more than I anticipated earlier in the year.

  15. #15
    Senior Member BrainInAJar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    A sprinter's jump is essentially genetic. My peak power doesn't change much whether I've been training or not.
    Well, that's disheartening, my peak power is atrociously bad ( 1175W, which I think is a data anomaly, my 2s is 925W ) and my 10s isn't much better ( 820W )

  16. #16
    Senior Member VT Biker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrainInAJar View Post
    Well, that's disheartening, my peak power is atrociously bad ( 1175W, which I think is a data anomaly, my 2s is 925W ) and my 10s isn't much better ( 820W )
    Are you sure about the 2 second power? Seems like the drop is quite severe, and not likely your true decline in power.

  17. #17
    Senior Member VT Biker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    As of today 20 secs is up 412 on the year, 267 lifetime. A lot of this is definitely due to the length of the samples though.

    It's cool to see these improvements. The increases are much more than I anticipated earlier in the year.
    Mike - solid improvements. Made me check to see my improvements from June vs. July (only two months since having a power meter). What is interesting, is my power during training rides has increased, but my power during race efforts (based on the mean maximal power curve) has declined somewhat. Granted, only 1 race in July, so the cohort is small. But I rode a smarter race last Sunday, which meant I was not pushing as hard at the front as I have in the past, but, the pace was still hard enough, that by the time I got to the sprint, I think I was more fatigued coupled with the fact that my race where my power was strongest was Coal Miner in June, which had a climb in it, and on an ascent is where I can produce the most power.

    Again - not sure how I ever trained without a power meter before. Night and day in terms of dialing in efforts, and monitoring progress.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    I track the peak via 1 sec duration on the graph. It's w/in a few watts of the instantaneous.

    Thanks for the tip on the 20 second number. I checked and 20 secs is up 200 watts but all of my top 20 sec efforts have been freebies from shorter sprints. My record is a left over from a 14 second sprint. I'm going to identify a new finish line that will ensure that I keep on it through at least 20 seconds. How much trouble might I get in if I got caught spray painting a line across the road?

    I guess it's time to increase my training load from 40 secs/week to 80...where am I going to find that kind of time?
    I have a loop where I can sprint from a hairpin turn for about 20 seconds to a driveway. It's good to use a loop that you can repeat, and one where you can get some idea of what you're doing, i.e. the power chart looks similar.

    Remember to shift when you sprint. My goal is to have the same peak for each shift since I have a very short peak. I want to jump hard, then shift + jump hard, then shift + jump hard. If I have 3 peaks then I'm way ahead. I usually have one peak and then the power just drops off a cliff.

  19. #19
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    Brad --- Agreed, the PM is a great tool. Coupled with the right charts in WKO, the whole system is on autopilot.

    CDR --- Do you sit at all in a 20 second sprint? 30 secs? I reset my 60 second number today as well. The wierd thing...I only stayed on the gas for 40 seconds of that. It makes me curious as to what would happen if I HTFU and put down a real 60 second effort. Perhaps it's time that I add some RWI's back to my schedule again soon. I think I have improvements to harvest.

  20. #20
    Senior Member VT Biker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    I have a loop where I can sprint from a hairpin turn for about 20 seconds to a driveway. It's good to use a loop that you can repeat, and one where you can get some idea of what you're doing, i.e. the power chart looks similar.

    Remember to shift when you sprint. My goal is to have the same peak for each shift since I have a very short peak. I want to jump hard, then shift + jump hard, then shift + jump hard. If I have 3 peaks then I'm way ahead. I usually have one peak and then the power just drops off a cliff.
    And this is where I fail. I basically stick with the gear I hit first, and just pedal as hard as I can the entire sprint. Would be interesting to see once I get a better technique what my power output would be with better technique.

  21. #21
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    If you want to win in the 4s, consider jumping with 800-1000m left in the race. Go all-out full sprint from that jump, and never let up even for half a pedal stroke. As hard as you can go.

    In the 3s around here lately, the teams are working together better than in the past, and the kilo attacks aren't as good of an option, since I'll be starting my attack against a pack that's already doing 35mph.

    In the 4s though, it's a sprinter culture. Everyone thinks they're Cavendish, so the speed with 1km to go isn't so ludicrous.

  22. #22
    Senior Member crapweasel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Remember to shift when you sprint. My goal is to have the same peak for each shift since I have a very short peak. I want to jump hard, then shift + jump hard, then shift + jump hard. If I have 3 peaks then I'm way ahead. I usually have one peak and then the power just drops off a cliff.
    I always forget to do this, then I look at my chart later and I'm spinning at 130rpm not accelerating . It's not that I have a short peak, I just can't put out the right power at that cadence.

    Not having sprinted in a race, I wonder: is it not the case that your're already in the 12 or 11 when you jump because of last lap pace and/or leadout? Is there actually a lot of shifting in the sprint?

  23. #23
    Senior Member VT Biker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crapweasel View Post
    I always forget to do this, then I look at my chart later and I'm spinning at 130rpm not accelerating . It's not that I have a short peak, I just can't put out the right power at that cadence.

    Not having sprinted in a race, I wonder: is it not the case that your're already in the 12 or 11 when you jump because of last lap pace and/or leadout? Is there actually a lot of shifting in the sprint?
    I am a little bit the opposite. I usually immediately jump into a higher gear, and hammer it with lo cadence. However, I have noticed that I end up with my legs giving out near the end, and power output drops.

  24. #24
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
    If you want to win in the 4s, consider jumping with 800-1000m left in the race. Go all-out full sprint from that jump, and never let up even for half a pedal stroke. As hard as you can go.

    In the 3s around here lately, the teams are working together better than in the past, and the kilo attacks aren't as good of an option, since I'll be starting my attack against a pack that's already doing 35mph.

    In the 4s though, it's a sprinter culture. Everyone thinks they're Cavendish, so the speed with 1km to go isn't so ludicrous.
    but only if you have a 10w/kg 1' power like WR.

  25. #25
    ride lots be safe Creakyknees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    you're getting 7th or whatever but the winner is 50 feet in front of you, you need to find a different way to do better. It's not going to happen in a normal sprint.
    I see you've been at most of my races this year...
    "have fun and be kind"
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