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Old 09-16-11, 07:47 AM   #1
KDTX
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Increasing max sprint speed

Hey guys;

I am looking to take my sprint to the next level next season. I am mostly a crit racer and would like to take my max speed from about 33mph to at least 36-37mph. I have read all of the threads on sprinting and couldn't really find anything that discussed this specifically. A way to train for increasing that overall top speed.

Background:
I have no problem getting to the front in crits. Good bike handler. Always in contention on the bell lap. Usually floating somewhere about 5-10 position.
I have good strength. No problem using the 53-11 and use it frequently. Sometimes I will actually upshift and churn for a slow cadence recovery effort while in the pack.
I have some good finishes this season: 4th twice, 6th, 7th twice, with 7 top 10 finishes in 15 crits.
I have a good jump but not as good as the super-fast twitch light guys who go from 32mph to 37mph in the last 50m.


Some things I am guessing may need work on but not sure are:
High speed cadence work
Shifting while sprinting (don't do this now, nor have I practiced it. I am usually in the 53 12 and or 11 with 200m to go. Maybe I need to be spinning in a lower gear?)
Some type of WRI interval


Any good links or books on sprinting only?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 09-16-11, 07:55 AM   #2
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if your max speed is 33 and you're in the 11 or 12 you're in way too big a gear.
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Old 09-16-11, 08:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
if your max speed is 33 and you're in the 11 or 12 you're in way too big a gear.
+1
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Old 09-16-11, 08:40 AM   #4
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You shouldn't be worrying about increasing max sprint speed, but increasing your sprint kick and power. Speed is relative to the course and conditions, and is no way comparable.

I have sprinted to 40mph before on an uphill and I suck at sprinting (max 5s is under 1000w).

FYI, you are probably going faster than you think too. I find it hard to believe your max sprint only gets you to 33mph. Most of the time in the crits I'm in, we go over that speed at least during one section of the course, and the last lap/sprint is higher. Spinning out a 53x11 is close to 40mph I believe (too lazy to check calculator).
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Old 09-16-11, 09:38 AM   #5
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You shouldn't be worrying about increasing max sprint speed, but increasing your sprint kick and power. Speed is relative to the course and conditions, and is no way comparable.
Yes, I just used speed as a reference point. I assumed flat courses with no wind and past results for comparison.

So to rephrase: How do I work on my sprint kick and power?
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Old 09-16-11, 09:50 AM   #6
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Yes, I just used speed as a reference point. I assumed flat courses with no wind and past results for comparison.

So to rephrase: How do I work on my sprint kick and power?
Same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice.

Seriously.

Working on form (launching in the right gear, body position, shifting, timing, visualization) will almost always net improvements. Start at a lower than max wattage and work on the aforementioned items...do multiple sets till you can get consistent. By doing this you're building mental and muscle memory of (hopefully) good habits. Then start going full out in training and group rides (where it's safe...not just because there's a sign there). After each sprint do a mental critique...what went right and what could be improved on.

On the purely physical side when I do weights and force work I can watch my peak sprint wattage increase in a linear track with my lifting weight. I know other people that have had success improving their sprint using the same methods.
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Old 09-16-11, 11:47 AM   #7
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Work on increasing your cadence at full power. Don't worry about the speed and gear at first. Work on your jump and windup to maximum cadence with full power.
I like to do Cavendish sprints for a sprint workout. Find a section of road about 1km long that has a slight downgrade followed by a slight upgrade. The section I use starts at -2%, hits bottom, and gradually increases to +4%. Get rolling on the downgrade and take it up to field speed, then jump right before you hit the bottom. Try and accelerate up the rise and hold it for at least 100m. Repeat.
Do the town line sprints on group rides. Start in the middle to the back of the pack to get more out of it.
Try to learn to shift while sprinting. It may or may not be something that you'll want to do in races, but you should try it first. I like to start a sprint at a specific RPM, take it as high up as I can go until the power starts to drop off, then shift. I may shift 2x-3x in a flat sprint.

I plan on doing weight work this winter and continue it throughout the season as RacerEx suggests. I didn't continue to do it during this season and my sprint went away.
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Old 09-16-11, 11:53 AM   #8
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1. What Ex said

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Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
Do the town line sprints on group rides. Start in the middle to the back of the pack to get more out of it.
Yeah these are good but BE CAREFUL because most group rides are confined to one lane and nasty things happen when two bikers occupy the same space.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:07 PM   #9
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Like everything else in life you have a genetic limit to how far you can go. This applies to sprint top end.

And like everything else in life, without a lot of hard work you will be far from that limit.

Racer Ex "hits it out of the park" as is typical. "Form" on the bicycle is very important. "Explosive" leg strength is also important. You have to have both.

The drill I "like" to do is a set of "stomps": Huge gear at a virtual stand-still and try to destroy your bicycle for 10 seconds going as hard as you can. "Rest" for 50 seconds. Repeat for a total of 10.

These hurt like hell. You should not attempt to do this on consecutive days. If you can, you didn't do them correctly.

Make sure that you are very close to home after finishing the last one. It will be a slow ride home.

Also make sure that your bike is in perfect mechanical condition. You will break stuff if it isn't.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
if your max speed is 33 and you're in the 11 or 12 you're in way too big a gear.
+1

On a team ride last year I did the major work chasing down the "rabbit" before a town sign sprint pulling at 33 mph and only later did I figure out that I was in my 39x15. I simply forgot to get back on the "big ring" after riding on some gravel roads. The guys I was pulling said that my pedal stroke looked "pretty good".
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Old 09-16-11, 06:23 PM   #11
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Work on 1 minute power with your chin below your bars.
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Old 09-17-11, 04:21 AM   #12
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One of my buddies from So Fla, who can sprint 40+ from a dead stop swears by motor pacing. He said that jumps and weights are good for your jump but what really helped him with the top end was that.
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Old 09-17-11, 11:45 AM   #13
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One of my buddies from So Fla, who can sprint 40+ from a dead stop swears by motor pacing. He said that jumps and weights are good for your jump but what really helped him with the top end was that.
I know that at the end of the KPC training camp, Andreu had the riders motorpacing for 5 hours solid. I guess it's gotta be good for something.
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Old 09-17-11, 11:56 AM   #14
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motorpacing rocks.
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Old 09-17-11, 04:46 PM   #15
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KTDX, have you ever raced track? I'm lucky enough to have one 15 minutes away from my apartment, and I think it has helped wonders with my balance, cadence, and awareness. If you happen to have one close by, maybe rent a bike from a friend (or the velodrome) and check out the "training night races." It would be more fun than training alone, and you'd have the benefit of learning from experience of the racers at the track. Plus you'd have to spin a higher cadence to contest the sprints because you really don't have any other options
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Old 09-18-11, 10:16 AM   #16
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to the OP - one of the things you can do is to do a gear limit, like a 53x15 or a 53x14, like a Junior would. It encourages spinning, develops pedal suppleness, rpm elasticity, adaptability. Instead of becoming (and staying) a low rpm diesel, you open up the higher rpm bits.

I raced (a long, long time ago) as a Junior and therefore had to worry about gear limits (53x15 for me). When I lost use of my big ring in a training crit this year I ended up limited to a 39x11 (and I used the 12 as well).


Here's the kicker - out of our little group (3rd on road?) I won the sprint. Granted there was less than nothing on the line (the race winner gets a soda or a beer), but guys did try with a leadout and such. 39x11.
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Old 09-18-11, 07:20 PM   #17
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if your max speed is 33 and you're in the 11 or 12 you're in way too big a gear.
Yup, seems as though lots of guys overgear during rides, races & sprints.
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Old 09-19-11, 07:55 AM   #18
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Yup, seems as though lots of guys overgear during rides, races & sprints.
auch aye the noo.
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Old 09-19-11, 08:52 AM   #19
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Something not mentioned yet is your position on the final lap.

I have found that if I am not in the top three coming out of the last turn, chances are, I'm not going to win the sprint. It is much more difficult to pass 4-9 guys than to pass one or two. And if you are closer to the front, or on the front, on the final lap, you can chose the best line and make anyone faster than you go around you.
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Old 09-19-11, 11:09 AM   #20
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Something not mentioned yet is your position on the final lap.

I have found that if I am not in the top three coming out of the last turn, chances are, I'm not going to win the sprint. It is much more difficult to pass 4-9 guys than to pass one or two. And if you are closer to the front, or on the front, on the final lap, you can chose the best line and make anyone faster than you go around you.
Positioning is not realistic for many people, partially because of the power required, partially because it's very difficult to be in the 4-6% of riders that will be in the optimal position. By definition if there are 50 riders in the race and you want to be top 3 (but not first), there are 2 people who will be in that position. There will be 47 others (plus the point rider) fighting for position, or, realistically, 15-20 that have some belief in themselves in the last 400 meters.

I'm a reasonable sprinter (on a flat sprint where I'm feeling okay and there's a headwind I figure I can pass 5-10+ riders in 200 meters, depending how wide everyone goes), but generally speaking if I work to get into second-fifth spot before the sprint, I'm often tapped out before I ever jump, forget about trying to make it to the line. Only the most powerful riders will be able to get into a top position and still have some juice leftover for the sprint. This is where teammates and such come into play - they sacrifice themselves to put you in position.

Having said that it's a good thing to experience leading out a sprint. Usually you'll still manage 10th-15th, better than being buried anonymously. I've led out sprints for non-teammates, just because I knew I wasn't in contention, the race wasn't as important to me as to them, and I knew I could virtually guarantee them a place by leading them out. My best leadout for a non-teammate was an out and out win, clear from the field by 40-50 feet (and he was soft pedaling at the line).
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Old 09-19-11, 12:45 PM   #21
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Old 09-19-11, 02:23 PM   #22
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that dude has some vertical jump.
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Old 09-19-11, 02:23 PM   #23
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if your max speed is 33 and you're in the 11 or 12 you're in way too big a gear.

This...you can't turn the cadence fast enough with a 53/11...try a 53/13 and get it up to 120 on the rpm...that will get you to 38mph.

Second, you need fast twitch muscle and strength for sprinting. Having a leadout that is doing 35mph+ is helpful too...therefore, your burst and power is put towards going from 33+ to 38-40mph rather than trying to get there on your own.
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Old 09-19-11, 05:46 PM   #24
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Um, I think I'll just be satisfied with 15th place, thank you very much. My knees ached just watching that.
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Old 09-19-11, 06:12 PM   #25
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Having a leadout that is doing 35mph+ is helpful too...therefore, your burst and power is put towards going from 33+ to 38-40mph rather than trying to get there on your own.
Hence the drills first going downhill or motopacing. My favorite drill is to have a friend lead me out to the low 30 mph range on his scooter and when it is safe he gives a quick "toot toot" and I have to accelerate past him. Doing a quick set of 5 of these feels great, but is more than enough for a day.
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