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Old 03-27-14, 10:54 AM   #1
Giant Doofus 
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How do I get quicker on acceleration?

I want to get quicker at getting up to speed from a dead stop and at producing a quick burst of speed for a short distance. I have several places along my route where I have to stop to wait for traffic to clear before I can move across a major thoroughfare or where I am riding with traffic along a road with lots of stop lights. In both situations, I need to get moving quickly from a stand still. (In the first case, I need to get across that road before the next clump of traffic gets to me.)

I'm already a lot faster than I used to be, but feel like there must be a way to develop this skill intentionally. If I did interval training on weekends, would that help? Other ideas?
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Old 03-27-14, 11:08 AM   #2
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I do spin classes 3 days a week with LOTS of interval training. I also pretend that a car is flying up behind me so I have to move as quick as possible (yeah sounds weird, but it works).
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Old 03-27-14, 11:10 AM   #3
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I'm gonna go ahead and ask a stupid question: are you in the right gear? I once rode with a guy who was very strong on the straights, and even up inclines, but for some odd reason, he was shifting to a harder gear when coming to a stop. I think his thought process was that he could put more power down from a stop, but what ended up happening was me leaving him in the dust after every stop.

For my bikes, I generally know what my best "start" gear is, and make sure to be in that gear every time I come to a stop. An easier gear helps you spin it up more quickly, and therefore accelerate faster.

But if you're doing all that, then yeah, interval training is probably the only way. Or just blame it on the bike and get a new one. That always works.
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Old 03-27-14, 11:14 AM   #4
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I'm gonna go ahead and ask a stupid question: are you in the right gear?

But if you're doing all that, then yeah, interval training is probably the only way. Or just blame it on the bike and get a new one. That always works.
Not a stupid question at all. It actually took me a while to figure out that I should down shift before stopping. Once I figured it out, it took me even longer to remember to do it! But, yes, now that I've got that sorted out, I'm starting from a low gear.

Blaming the bike happened too: I've got one on order that has an IGH, so I'll be able to downshift even if I forget to do it while pedaling.

On the interval training: Any recommendations about how long for the hard effort vs. recovery and how many repetitions? I've never done HIIT before.
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Old 03-27-14, 11:32 AM   #5
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Try a single speed, especially a fixie. Though you might be slower for the first fifteen feet, you'll get across the intersection faster from a dead stop than if you were working your way through the gears. You won't beat a geared bike at the top end, but, in traffic, you'll find your acceleration superior.
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Old 03-27-14, 11:33 AM   #6
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Other than Just HTFU,

With an IGH, even if you stop in too high a gear , you can change to a lower one
while you wait for the light to change.

.. other than that , pick the back wheel off the ground and turn the cranks
so the wheel and drivetrain rotates,
to shift down to a lower gear to start off in.

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-27-14 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 03-27-14, 11:52 AM   #7
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ride a single speed.

i'm out of the saddle at every acceleration (maybe 3-6 times on my commute in each direction.)
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Old 03-27-14, 11:53 AM   #8
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Try a single speed, especially a fixie. Though you might be slower for the first fifteen feet, you'll get across the intersection faster from a dead stop than if you were working your way through the gears. You won't beat a geared bike at the top end, but, in traffic, you'll find your acceleration superior.
How is this any faster then just starting a geared bike in a similar gear ratio to your single speed instead of downshifting? With gears at least you have the option. Understand single speed is less maintenance, moving parts, etc. but I don't see how this will make it faster in this case.
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Old 03-27-14, 11:58 AM   #9
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I find the main thing that impacts my acceleration from a stop is clicking into my clipless pedals. The quicker I do that the quicker I can put full power down. Standing up and pedaling hard gets you going quicker. I think if I had a short urban only commute, I would use flat pedals for that reason. but since I have a much longer commute with a big climb and large percentage with no lights I prefer my clipless pedals.

Try experimenting with different gears and see what works best. To big of a gear will make the initial acceleration slow, to low and you will be shifting to much to get going fast.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:00 PM   #10
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I want to get quicker at getting up to speed from a dead stop and at producing a quick burst of speed for a short distance. I have several places along my route where I have to stop to wait for traffic to clear before I can move across a major thoroughfare or where I am riding with traffic along a road with lots of stop lights. In both situations, I need to get moving quickly from a stand still. (In the first case, I need to get across that road before the next clump of traffic gets to me.)

I'm already a lot faster than I used to be, but feel like there must be a way to develop this skill intentionally. If I did interval training on weekends, would that help? Other ideas?
What you're talking about is power vs strength. Strength will keep you going faster both on flat courses as well as up hills and also over the distance whereas power will allow for increased acceleration. (Technically, going up a hill is acceleration too but, depending on the slope, it would be a blend of strength and power). I'm reading about weight training for cyclists and it includes routines to improve power (if you're interested, I can get the info to you but you'll have to wait until tomorrow).
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Old 03-27-14, 12:05 PM   #11
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How is this any faster then just starting a geared bike in a similar gear ratio to your single speed instead of downshifting? With gears at least you have the option. Understand single speed is less maintenance, moving parts, etc. but I don't see how this will make it faster in this case.
Because you're forced to pedal quite hard from the get go. There is no slow acceleration option.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:07 PM   #12
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We call this improving your jump. Here is a set that my coach has me do as crit season heats up.

From a standing start (or as close as you can manage), do 10 sets of 15" intervals. Five from the small (or middle ring), say 39x16 or so. Hit it hard and wind it up as fast as you can go. Don't shift. You should feel like you're spinning as fast as possible at the end of the 15".

Now do five from the big ring, say 53x15 or so. Again, hit it hard and don't shift. On these you'll really struggle to turn the pedals over for the first five or so revs. Then focus on getting on top of the gear and turning the mash into spin.

These are inherently high intensity intervals so I wouldn't do these more often than twice a week, at least to start.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:20 PM   #13
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Because you're forced to pedal quite hard from the get go. There is no slow acceleration option.
I understand that concept and agree. But if I put my geared bike in the same gear ratio as a single speed to start, vs downshifting before the light, why would the single speed be any faster? Each turn of the crank would move the wheel the same amount in this case for both bikes. It seems like if you have a geared bike you still have the option to ride this way vs shifting a lot. I am not implying single speed vs geared is better or worse.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:23 PM   #14
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Don't forget about a strong push off too. Don't just lift the planted leg and start pedaling. Lean into it a bit and push off with the planted foot like a runner would on a starting block.

And +1 on the comment on the single speed comment. Any bike with gears can emulate a single speed. You just need to find the gear you are comfortable starting in. If you go too low you'll find yourself spinning too high of RPMs too soon. If you go too high then the start will seem sluggish.

Another thought - don't sweat it. If you're talking about stop lights, you have the right of way on the green. If you're having to cross at stop signs and have narrow windows, consider turning right, and then taking the lane to turn left somewhere for an eventual U-turn. Better to be safe than rely on a quick start where your foot could slip off the pedal or something.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:25 PM   #15
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I understand that concept and agree. But if I put my geared bike in the same gear ratio as a single speed to start, vs downshifting before the light, why would the single speed be any faster? Each turn of the crank would move the wheel the same amount in this case for both bikes. It seems like if you have a geared bike you still have the option to ride this way vs shifting a lot. I am not implying single speed vs geared is better or worse.
Because human nature is to take the easy way out.

Not having the ability to access the easy option is excellent training as the last few reps count the most.

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Old 03-27-14, 12:27 PM   #16
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Ride more and eat less.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:27 PM   #17
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How is this [fixie single speed] any faster then just starting a geared bike in a similar gear ratio to your single speed instead of downshifting?
It isn't. It is only fixie fan-boy feel good jibber-jabber.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:32 PM   #18
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We call this improving your jump. Here is a set that my coach has me do as crit season heats up.

From a standing start (or as close as you can manage), do 10 sets of 15" intervals. Five from the small (or middle ring), say 39x16 or so. Hit it hard and wind it up as fast as you can go. Don't shift. You should feel like you're spinning as fast as possible at the end of the 15".

Now do five from the big ring, say 53x15 or so. Again, hit it hard and don't shift. On these you'll really struggle to turn the pedals over for the first five or so revs. Then focus on getting on top of the gear and turning the mash into spin.

These are inherently high intensity intervals so I wouldn't do these more often than twice a week, at least to start.
Cool. A great tip.
But, 15 inches??? Seems short.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:33 PM   #19
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It isn't. It is only fixie fan-boy feel good jibber-jabber.
Like I stated, people are inherently efficient (i.e lazy) and the FGSS removes that option.

My fitness has significantly improved when I ride a 27-spd MTB in the Alps now!
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Old 03-27-14, 12:47 PM   #20
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Also, single speed / fixed gear drive trains are "more efficient" (is that the right term?).

Less chain mass to spin up, less resistance, better chain line, no spinning the pulleys of the derailleur. Individually, insignificant, as a sum it's less insignificant.
Not even this micro insignificant advantage once the OP starts using her new IGH equipped bike.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:51 PM   #21
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Not even this micro insignificant advantage once the OP starts using her new IGH equipped bike.
It's better for training.

However, I might start leaving the bike at work/home it's warmer and running some of the time as it's only 9km.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:57 PM   #22
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It's better for training.
OP didn't post anything about seeking better "training." The issue was acceleration from a stop in order to get quickly across an intersection.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:59 PM   #23
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If you want to do REALLY fast standing starts, ride the track. Get a track coach to show you how to do a real standing start. There is a definite technique to it. Watch youtube videos of standing starts on the track to see how it's done. You need to use your whole body. The biggest secret is to drive your hips forward, like you're humping the stem of your bike. With this technique, you can start just as fast in a big gear as someone trying to spin up a smaller gear. You can also use this technique on steep climbs, so it's worth knowing.

Most uneducated riders make the mistake of using side-to-side motion, rocking the bike. This is wasteful. You want forward and back. This technique has been useful for doing stuff like climbing Haleakala on my fixie.

This is a good secret. Don't tell anyone! I'm posting it here because nobody listens to me anyway; they already know everything. But you might...

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Old 03-27-14, 01:00 PM   #24
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Power is a function of Strength * RPM. So either you develop Strength, or you spin faster. Spinning twice as fast will double the power that goes to the wheels.

So for head starts, spin real fast at a low gear and shift up fast to maintain a sustainable spin until you're at the desired speed. (like: shift . shift .. shift... shift ......... shift......................)

If you develop more strength you will also go faster. Continue to spin fast though and learn to shift.

A single speed can help if its setup just right or if you can't shift fast enough (if you don't shift fast enough you're wasting strength pedaling at a cadence that is too high for you).

I fail to see how a IGH helps in any way; its probably slower afaik.
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Old 03-27-14, 01:04 PM   #25
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Like I stated, people are inherently efficient (i.e lazy) and the FGSS removes that option.

My fitness has significantly improved when I ride a 27-spd MTB in the Alps now!
For now, but when your knees are shot, you'll be much slower.
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