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Masters Racing (All Disciplines) Race on the track or road or on your mountainbike in the Masters Category? Want to talk tactics, strategy and training with your peers?

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Old 12-10-13, 12:08 PM   #51
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I'm just starting back to work after about a six month hiatus, so I know the feeling. I might even get caught up with my bills in a couple of months.

I've raced my carbon bike, but my main racing/training bike is aluminum. It's a 2012 Specialized Allez E5 frameset, bought used off of eBay, and outfitted with parts from my previous bike...most of which had been bought used. It's the last thing that's holding me back. Inexperience and genetics are the main things. Some of us are doing better financially than others, but that's not what makes them better racers. Speaking for myself, I need to put more work into it and get more experience before I can race better and smarter.
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Old 12-10-13, 12:13 PM   #52
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Commenting while having my first cup of coffee can be dangerous, so keep this in that context.

You noted that you shift at >100 rpm during sprints. What's your cadence during the rest of the race? I'm asking because sometimes strong guys use relatively slow cadence because they're relying on their leg strength, and it makes it harder for them to function well at higher cadence. Also, where are you during the rest of the race? Do you stay within the pack, or do you make it into breaks? I'm just thinking that if you're strong enough to make it into and stick with a break, you won't have to worry about pack sprints.
My cadence has always been pretty good because unlike so many casual/recreational riders I see every day, I always understood the benefit of having a higher cadence and an efficient pedal stroke.
Even so it's evolved over time and with work. My 'preferred' cadence on a flat-to-rolling course these days is 95rpm +/- 5rpm, and on a good day after being warmed up enough I can spin all the way up through 170rpm.
On climbs I try to keep the cadence high as much as I can, saving the lower cadences and the Force I can generate at them for steeper climbs where I don't have the option.

During a road race I try to stay in the front half of the pack, near the front, so I don't have to work so hard, don't have to deal with the "being at the end of the whip" effect, and overall have more options. Whether I'm always effective at maintaining a more-or-less ideal position 100% of the time is another matter.

I sometimes try to launch off the front and make it into breakaway groups, but I usually don't make it there and get absorbed by the pack again.
As soon as I'm off the front and am in the wind, everything gets twice as hard. During races where I used to have my PowerTap wheel on the bike, I'd look at the power and I'd be at maximum or higher while trying to bridge the gap. Poor aerodynamics, I'm sure, as others have pointed out. I generally don't bother trying this anymore anyway, because all these breakaways seem to fail anyhow, so it seems to be wasted effort -- especially if I tire myself out so much that I end up off the back of the main group and have to kill myself off again trying to get back on. I've killed races for myself this way before so I try to not let myself do it.

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ETA: Going along with what Ex said about position, when I was fitted to my carbon bike (an "endurance" bike, so similar geometry to yours) as a century rider I had a 100mm stem flipped up on top of 25mm of spacers. As I transitioned to racing, I went through a gradual lowering of my position to the point where I now am comfortable with a 120mm stem flipped down and slammed. This is just to point out that you may be able to improve your position somewhat in terms of aero. By our age, a lot of guys have back issues, so this may not be possible for you.
The bike has the stock stem, pointing upwards not down. The distance from the top of the steerer tube to the bottom of the stem is 0.95". The stem length, center-to-center, is about 4.3".

I developed a sciatica-related problem with my left leg by flipping the stem over and slamming it all the way down for a TT in my first year. I leave the bike fitting to my ex-coach who actually knows what he's doing rather than getting extreme with it and screwing myself up again.
I probably could handle a more aggressive, aero position, but I'd think it'd need to be done in stages, rather than all at once.
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Old 12-10-13, 12:16 PM   #53
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I really don't begrudge folks buying kick ass equipment. But there's a quantum leap between 'need' and 'want.' When your primary limiter in a sprint is knowing how to ride the last two laps and where to launch from, buying a new bike to improve your sprint is, errr, <edit>, errrr <edit> unwise.

I know guys with the best stuff. They want it. They can afford it. They don't have the illusion that the 15K parlee custom is what's going to win them races. Equipment counts. It does. But one needs to be realistic with what we're trying to find in terms of improvement with equipment.
For what it's worth, I'm not rich, I'm trying to keep training and racing on essentially no money, and all I'm interested in is the best bang-for-the-buck performance-wise. To re-iterate the original purpose of this thread: If the $1300 bike I've been riding for almost 7 years is holding me back/sabotaging me, then I want to know that; if it's not, then I cross it off the list and move on to figuring out what I'm doing wrong. Not having had any other road bike makes what I'm riding now a possible issue.
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Old 12-10-13, 12:19 PM   #54
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Was that really such a rude request for me to make?
Not if you made it politely.

But without a super tight controlled environment and test protocol the odds of seeing any meaningful differentiation in the data is slim/none. You'll read a lot of anecdotal "I was 2 minutes faster over my usual route on the Howdy Doody Mark 7" things posted both on the Net and in some less than scientific journals. I most cases they are saying the tinfoil is protecting them from sonic rays. A 5 MPH change in the wind can make something fast. So can having a good day.

Without a weighted jig like Ride Magazine has, subjective "feel" is often a better judge of things like stiffness.

The one thing I would insist on in any test ride is to use your wheels. They can make a huge difference in ride feel between bikes; put on a set of stiff wheels and a "soft" frame might feel stiff. Worth noting too that bars and seat post can play into the "feel" as well.

As G noted push on things, get out of the saddle and sprint, throw it into corners, wiggle the bars while you ride. But use your wheels and ride your bike and the "candidate" back to back.

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Old 12-10-13, 12:22 PM   #55
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OP, your 1100 pound leg press, 1000 watts and years of racing do not compute to sub 30 mph efforts and it is not the bike unless it is totally wrong (which I doubt). You need to look at other aspects of your cycling to improve your top end sprint speed.
OK, I believe you. What should I be looking at, then?
Despite what some might believe, I'm not looking for an excuse to spend thousands of dollars on a bike, I'd be just as happy winning races on my ****ty 7 year old $1300 bike with a triple-chainring, if for no other reason than to piss off the guys with the >=$5000 bikes who think they're all that. ;-)
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Old 12-10-13, 12:28 PM   #56
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Was that really such a rude request for me to make? I even offered to supply it myself, and they didn't want to do it. All I wanted was something quantifiable and non-subjective to take away from the experience, that I could use for comparison purposes. I've only ever owned one road bike, I'm a relatively inexperienced racer (compared to some of you who have been doing it for decades, that is), so what do I know anyway? I felt that my 100% subjective observations wouldn't be very useful to me.

not rude, but ridiculous and pointless. you're not quantifying anything using a speedometer in the amount of time you have to test a bicycle.
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Old 12-10-13, 12:29 PM   #57
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I probably could handle a more aggressive, aero position, but I'd think it'd need to be done in stages, rather than all at once.
See my prior post.

At this point I think we have a plan. I'd suggest blowing $20 on a 6/84 stem, or even seeing if the LBS has a take off in a box under the bench that they would let you have for free. That'll drop you around 2cm. Ride it and see how it goes for a few weeks.


Spend your money on entry fees and tires for now.

While you're doing that hang around here and the "33" racing forum, read, post your race reports, don't get defensive when people have a little fun with them, and learn who knows what they are talking about and take their race advice and try to implement it.


FWIW there are folks here who have won a lot of races and championships that are willing, in a curmudgeonly way, to provide advice.
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Old 12-10-13, 12:32 PM   #58
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not rude, but ridiculous and pointless. you're not quantifying anything using a speedometer in the amount of time you have to test a bicycle.
I covered that. Lighten up Francis.

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Old 12-10-13, 12:35 PM   #59
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Not if you made it politely.

But without a super tight controlled environment and test protocol the odds of seeing any meaningful differentiation in the data is slim/none. You'll read a lot of anecdotal "I was 2 minutes faster over my usual route on the Howdy Doody Mark 7" things posted both on the Net and in some less than scientific journals. I most cases they are saying the tinfoil is protecting them from sonic rays. A 5 MPH change in the wind can make something fast. So can having a good day.

Without a weighted jig like Ride Magazine has, subjective "feel" is often a better judge of things like stiffness.

The one thing I would insist on in any test ride is to use your wheels. They can make a huge difference in ride feel between bikes; put on a set of stiff wheels and a "soft" frame might feel stiff. Worth noting too that bars and seat post can play into the "feel" as well.

As Gary noted push on things, get out of the saddle and sprint, throw it into corners, wiggle the bars while you ride. But use your wheels and ride your bike and the "candidate" back to back.
Of course I was polite. They seemed concerned that 'installing' anything on the bike would 'scratch the frame'. They seemed to be a little annoyed with my actually wanting to have some basic saddle adjustments, too, and paused for a few seconds when I presented them with my own pedals to put on it. They left me feeling vaguely like I was just a waste of their time or something.

Since no LBS around here seems interested in allowing test rides of race bikes I doubt I'll have any future opportunities to test ride anything unless I'm waving hundred dollar bills at them, ready to buy one, or at least that's the impression I've been given. I've asked at least one salesperson how they expect me to agree to buy something that costs thousands of dollars that I can't even try for a few miles first, and am essentially told those are 'the rules' and they don't have a choice.
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Old 12-10-13, 12:38 PM   #60
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For what it's worth, I'm not rich, I'm trying to keep training and racing on essentially no money, and all I'm interested in is the best bang-for-the-buck performance-wise. To re-iterate the original purpose of this thread: If the $1300 bike I've been riding for almost 7 years is holding me back/sabotaging me, then I want to know that; if it's not, then I cross it off the list and move on to figuring out what I'm doing wrong. Not having had any other road bike makes what I'm riding now a possible issue.
Can you get a better bike? Yes. What will the helpful differences be? Better fit. Better working and more reliable component group. Stiffer frame and wheels. If you're a big guy, stiffer bars and stems. Red. Red is the fastest color. The differences for what you're trying to improve though will likely be more quickly realized through the other things mentioned (technique, position, training).
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Old 12-10-13, 12:41 PM   #61
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I covered that. Lighten up Francis.
sorry there was a whole nuther page of replies I hadn't seen, and I'm doing three things at once. This, conference calling, and writing my coach about my FTP test.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:06 PM   #62
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Of course I was polite. They seemed concerned that 'installing' anything on the bike would 'scratch the frame'. They seemed to be a little annoyed with my actually wanting to have some basic saddle adjustments, too, and paused for a few seconds when I presented them with my own pedals to put on it. They left me feeling vaguely like I was just a waste of their time or something.

Since no LBS around here seems interested in allowing test rides of race bikes I doubt I'll have any future opportunities to test ride anything unless I'm waving hundred dollar bills at them, ready to buy one, or at least that's the impression I've been given. I've asked at least one salesperson how they expect me to agree to buy something that costs thousands of dollars that I can't even try for a few miles first, and am essentially told those are 'the rules' and they don't have a choice.
A smart bike store employee would have said "I'll ask the store manager whether we can do that for you" rather than blowing you off. "It might scratch the frame" equals "That's a request I haven't encountered before and I'm too surprised [or lazy] to think about it, so I'll give you a knee-jerk negative response." The manager, given a minute to think about it, might have realized that installing the cyclometer could mean that the shop sells a very expensive bike---or, at least, that a customer will remember being treated with respect at that shop. I haven't worked in a bike shop in decades, but I still cringe when I think of the times I made exactly the same mistake.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:14 PM   #63
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Can you get a better bike? Yes. What will the helpful differences be? Better fit. Better working and more reliable component group. Stiffer frame and wheels. If you're a big guy, stiffer bars and stems. Red. Red is the fastest color. The differences for what you're trying to improve though will likely be more quickly realized through the other things mentioned (technique, position, training).
Wouldn't I want a red bike for winter riding because it's warmer, a blue one for summer because it's cooler, a white bike if I want to shave my head, and a black one for urban downtown crits?
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Old 12-10-13, 01:20 PM   #64
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Sounds like money is tight and you don't race much due to finances. I would put the money into race fees and forgo the bike for now. Also, I think Cleave has a good point about the placebo effect of a new bike.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:27 PM   #65
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Here are some metrics from the track for sprinting. The measure of a track racers' sprinting ability is the flying 200 meters. In this race, the racer has three laps to complete the solo race and on the third lap, his time is started 200 meters before the finish line. The goal is to hit the start line at the fastest possible speed and hold it for 200 meters until the finish line.

Here is a table of 200 meter times versus average speed over the distance (final 200 meters).

15" = 29.82 mph
14" = 31.95 mph
13" = 34.41 mph
12" = 37.28 mph
11" = 40.66 mph
10" = 44.73 mph

Under 13 seconds is excellent.

We hold Saturday beginner sessions at the track where many first time riders (note I did not say racers) show up and rent track bikes that are geared at 84 gear inches. We teach them to ride the track and do some mock races. Many times the supervisor will have them do a flying 200 meters. Many riders get under 15 seconds including the women riding on steel, somewhat flexible, under geared, fitted up for the moment rental bikes. And some of the better male racers, trying track for the first time, will get under 13 seconds on a rental bike.

OP, your 1100 pound leg press, 1000 watts and years of racing do not compute to sub 30 mph efforts and it is not the bike unless it is totally wrong (which I doubt). You need to look at other aspects of your cycling to improve your top end sprint speed.
Note that the speeds people were attaining in the list above were on bikes with an 84" gear. For comparison, a 53 X 16 gear is about 87 inches. Might be a good idea for you to try sprinting in a lower gear, using your 12, 13, or even 14 sprocket. If nothing else, you might find that getting comfortable with sprinting at a higher cadence on a lower gear translates to transferring that muscle memory to pack sprinting.

Another tip: a veteran racer around here with many national championships to his name always trained by sprinting down a hill with a 5% grade to replicate the speed and wind resistance of sprinting out of a pack. He never worried about what his sprint speed was on the flat.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:32 PM   #66
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Sounds like money is tight and you don't race much due to finances. I would put the money into race fees and forgo the bike for now. Also, I think Cleave has a good point about the placebo effect of a new bike.
I have ZERO dollars since I don't even have a job.
By the way this isn't even an imminent decision. Unless I won the lottery I wouldn't even be thinking about a different bike for at least a year, and the way things are going it might be never. I could literally be homeless by March. I'm just looking for answers.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:40 PM   #67
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I have ZERO dollars since I don't even have a job.
By the way this isn't even an imminent decision. Unless I won the lottery I wouldn't even be thinking about a different bike for at least a year, and the way things are going it might be never. I could literally be homeless by March. I'm just looking for answers.
Sorry to hear about that.
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Old 12-10-13, 01:44 PM   #68
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I have ZERO dollars since I don't even have a job.
By the way this isn't even an imminent decision. Unless I won the lottery I wouldn't even be thinking about a different bike for at least a year, and the way things are going it might be never. I could literally be homeless by March. I'm just looking for answers.
The answer is that your financial situation is unfortunate for both your inner harmony and your cycling, as it is indeed all about the bike.

If the answer you got was that it was the bike holding you back what relevance would it have? That there are improvements you can make in the here and now should be a wake call to get after it and do what you can. And if you don't actually have money to buy a bike, you're actually bent that a shop didn't pit a cyclometer on a bike for you to test out?
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Old 12-10-13, 02:11 PM   #69
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Can you get a better bike? Yes. What will the helpful differences be? Better fit. Better working and more reliable component group. Stiffer frame and wheels. If you're a big guy, stiffer bars and stems. Red. Red is the fastest color. The differences for what you're trying to improve though will likely be more quickly realized through the other things mentioned (technique, position, training).
I beg to differ. White is faster.

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Old 12-10-13, 02:28 PM   #70
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Commenting while having my first cup of coffee can be dangerous, so keep this in that context.......
I should probably also point out that I was never athletic my entire life, and this is the most athletic I've ever been.
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Old 12-10-13, 02:29 PM   #71
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Wouldn't I want a red bike for winter riding because it's warmer, a blue one for summer because it's cooler, a white bike if I want to shave my head, and a black one for urban downtown crits?
While having multiple bikes is always advantageous you're going about this wrong.
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Old 12-10-13, 03:38 PM   #72
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I should probably also point out that I was never athletic my entire life, and this is the most athletic I've ever been.
You're in good company, then!
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Old 12-10-13, 03:58 PM   #73
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Any color bike you choose, as long as your shoes are red. Of course, I may be wrong, but I read it on the internet, so I seriously doubt it. It's hard to dye black shoes red, but I'm going to try.
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Old 12-10-13, 04:33 PM   #74
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Clean is more important than color. Have we learned nothing from Cleave?
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Old 12-10-13, 05:16 PM   #75
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With regard to shoes: Never mind color. The answer to speed lies with your pets. The cat pissing on mine made me noticably faster! People can't hold my wheel nearly as easily as they used to. Almost like I have to ease in order to prevent a gap from forming. Now, if I could just find the power to create more than a three length lead.
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