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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 06-12-05, 10:26 PM   #1
harlot
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Riding purely fixed vs. mixing it up

I started riding fixed after meeting a roadie friend of my dad's who cross-trains on a fixed gear and pushes an ungodly 53x15 or similar combo up and down the hills of Appalachia for miles and miles on end. Seemed like a great way to build strength while having new toys to play with. In the 8 months I've been riding fixed I've noticed several things with my riding. Foremost is that my legs are indeed much more powerful from pushing up the hills, which I could compare to spending hours in the gym doing squats (I ride a 44x17). However, I have also noticed that in only riding fixed these 8 months I've reduced my climbing speed and overall aerobic capacity. I think this can be attributed to pushing one gear up a hill, which builds power but not speed or aerobic capacity, and overall limits the speed of the whole ride when I have to slow down to get up a hill. I really noticed it today when I took my road bike out and did one of my normal routes and felt completely under conditioned for the speed of the ride.

Have other fixed riders noticed these results? Do you push yourself more riding fixed to compensate for these deficiencies? Mix up the training with doses of road or mtb to complement the benefits of fixed riding? From my other pursuits I know that you reap the most benefits from cross-training. That friend of my dadís obviously mixes it up and sees the benefits, but I was wondering what other people do as well.
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Old 06-12-05, 10:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harlot
I started riding fixed after meeting a roadie friend of my dad's who cross-trains on a fixed gear and pushes an ungodly 53x15 or similar combo up and down the hills of Appalachia for miles and miles on end. Seemed like a great way to build strength while having new toys to play with. In the 8 months I've been riding fixed I've noticed several things with my riding. Foremost is that my legs are indeed much more powerful from pushing up the hills, which I could compare to spending hours in the gym doing squats (I ride a 44x17). However, I have also noticed that in only riding fixed these 8 months I've reduced my climbing speed and overall aerobic capacity. I think this can be attributed to pushing one gear up a hill, which builds power but not speed or aerobic capacity, and overall limits the speed of the whole ride when I have to slow down to get up a hill. I really noticed it today when I took my road bike out and did one of my normal routes and felt completely under conditioned for the speed of the ride.

Have other fixed riders noticed these results? Do you push yourself more riding fixed to compensate for these deficiencies? Mix up the training with doses of road or mtb to complement the benefits of fixed riding? From my other pursuits I know that you reap the most benefits from cross-training. That friend of my dadís obviously mixes it up and sees the benefits, but I was wondering what other people do as well.
I've noticed exactly the opposite, but I use different gearing for different kinds of rides. For fast training rides on flat terrain I push 49x16, and for hilly rides 46x18 or 47x18. I wouldn't want to have to ride 44x17 for all of my rides.
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Old 06-13-05, 01:51 AM   #3
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I just stepped back onto the geared bike for a 40 mile ride today for the first time in a few weeks, and I did notice something odd. My aerobic capacity seemed to be as good or better than before, but for some reason... and this is a bit counter intuitive, I felt more comfortable pushing larger gears at lower cadence than before. I would have expected the opposite, but who knows. Perhaps it is actually because I have built more strength than I have endurance.
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Old 06-13-05, 02:17 AM   #4
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yea i also noticed the oppisite riding fixed has made me faster and stronger both in speed and arobic base.
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Old 06-13-05, 04:18 AM   #5
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Same here. I also tend to attack the hills and get up them faster.
95% of my road riding is done fixed, but I have seven fixies with
different gearing on most of them. My leg speed is much better than
when I was able to coast. It seems strange if my legs aren't moving.
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Old 06-13-05, 07:20 AM   #6
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Intervals and periodization are some keys to training- regardless of the bike used- and I think there is probably little controversy about that. Unfortunately, for me, it is much easier to do intervals on a geared bike than fixed.

Last year, after my racing season (road races & crits) was over, I rode fixed exclusively for two months. A late race was rescheduled- it originally conflicted with a wedding I was attending- so I rode it with no special training. My endurance was well intact from riding 250 miles/week fixed, but I was like a diesel engine- I had no top end. Sprinting out of corners was killing me during the crit. My heart had not seen high heartrates (approaching MHR) in months.

Now- Overall, I have much better leg strength and mass- as well as a faster and smoother spin/cadence- both of which have increased my top speed. I still need to do hill repeats and intervals to train my heart to quickly recover. Theoretically, I could do it fixed, but reality dictates otherwise... and I use my geared bike.
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Old 06-13-05, 07:34 AM   #7
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First of all, I think it's funny that doing road rides fixed is "cross training."

But more on topic, I've found that riding my fixie exclusively for the past 10 months or so--riding to class as well as riding with a group--has definitely made my legs much stronger (and much bigger in a very small amount of time), but I don't think I've gained any aerobic fitness. I don't think I've lost any either, but I have found that my heart and lungs haven't really gotten any better at recovering from hard efforts. Perhaps I'm geared a little too hard (46x17), since when I'm riding, I very very rarely find myself breathing hard, but after about 40-50 miles, my legs are telling me to stop. However, I'd imagine that if I geared down at all, I'd get dropped too much and I'd be unhappy.
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Old 06-13-05, 07:47 AM   #8
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Cross training. Well yeah that is a bit of a descriptive stretch now that you mention it, but you know how alien derailleurs are around here.

To you guys who have noticed the opposite effect that I have, would you suggest I need to ramp it up? Change my gearing so I'm not pushing so much? (Somehow getting a new fleet of different geared fixies isn't going to work right now, but it's a good excuse for new toys later.) I have some more long distance goals for the end of the summer and want to know what I should do to increase my conditioning. Thanks!
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Old 06-13-05, 08:05 AM   #9
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filtersweep, what gear are you pushing? I've heard some claim riding fixed has built in interval training since natural variations in terrain mean that sometimes you have to really blast to keep going while other times you just sit and spin.
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Old 06-13-05, 08:09 AM   #10
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I have noticed no problems with losing aerobic capacity. Last year I tried to do a double century and couldn't finish, living at the shore we have few hills so the very hilly first half destroyed me. Then last summer I got a fixed gear and this spring I used it a lot for my training rides. If I ride like 6 times week like 2 to 3 rides or on the fixed gear; specifically used it to do hill repeats. This weekend I finished the double no problem, I didn't go anaerobic on any of the hills. So no the fixed gear probaly didn't give me any increased aerobic capacity but it gave me a great deal of power and leg strength. It has also smoother out my cadence and helped me cut down on my coasting.
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Old 06-13-05, 09:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostontrevor
filtersweep, what gear are you pushing? I've heard some claim riding fixed has built in interval training since natural variations in terrain mean that sometimes you have to really blast to keep going while other times you just sit and spin.
I run a 42 front with a fixed/fixed 14/16 rear. I mostly use the 16, but it is nice to have a 14 if I really want to fly.

My issue is probably motivational/psychological. I can easily see heartrates into the 190s during races, and 180s doing geared hill intervals... but usually only the 170s riding geared sprint intervals or fixed intervals- which is why I prefer hill repeats, since it raises HR more.
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Old 06-13-05, 04:51 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by sbeatonNJ
I have noticed no problems with losing aerobic capacity. Last year I tried to do a double century and couldn't finish, living at the shore we have few hills so the very hilly first half destroyed me. Then last summer I got a fixed gear and this spring I used it a lot for my training rides. If I ride like 6 times week like 2 to 3 rides or on the fixed gear; specifically used it to do hill repeats. This weekend I finished the double no problem, I didn't go anaerobic on any of the hills. So no the fixed gear probaly didn't give me any increased aerobic capacity but it gave me a great deal of power and leg strength. It has also smoother out my cadence and helped me cut down on my coasting.
If you can ride those hills without a struggle on a fixed-geared bike why would you want to switch back over to a geared bike? Why go back to coasting and labored breathing?
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Old 06-13-05, 05:29 PM   #13
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Last year I tried to do a double century and couldn't finish. This weekend I finished the double no problem.
WOW my hat is tipped. I did my first fixed century yesterday. ufdah.
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Old 06-13-05, 05:30 PM   #14
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labored breathing is good for you
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Old 06-13-05, 06:50 PM   #15
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Training? What's training?

Sorry, I couldn't help but make that useless comment.
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Old 06-13-05, 09:54 PM   #16
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Fixed centuries and double centuries, you guys kick ass! Give me a few more months and no more traveling and I'll get there. I did a bunch of sprints and faster hills tonight on the way home on my fixed and my legs are J-E-L-L-O and I'm not talking Biafra. I'd definitely say my hard road ride yesterday did me some good and worked my legs differently than straight fixed. I'm digging the idea of mixing up my routine. Right now I'm mixing it with Scuttlebutt porter.
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Old 06-13-05, 09:59 PM   #17
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Old 06-13-05, 10:35 PM   #18
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That's absolutely heinous.
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Old 06-13-05, 10:41 PM   #19
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The image or the bad photoshopping?
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Old 06-13-05, 11:02 PM   #20
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Looks like something John Waters rejected.
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Old 06-14-05, 06:38 AM   #21
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exxxtrreeeeeemmmmmme
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Old 06-14-05, 08:52 AM   #22
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i'm gonna agree with harlot here.

i think that riding fixed makes me not as fast as i could be (not slower, just not as fast)

i think its a cadence issue - like i can only pedal so much or i am used to pedalling so much? i dunno. i think gears can indeed make you fly (if you use them)

probably more of a rusholme issue though - i'm just too slow! chicago is no seattle!
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Old 06-14-05, 09:45 AM   #23
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I so did not mean to give the impression that my double was fixed. I just meant that I credit riding fixed a lot during training helped a great deal in training for it. I have done a fixed century and a fixed 200K though. Sorry if my post was misleading.
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Old 06-14-05, 10:41 AM   #24
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Not misleading at all! Fixed or geared that still kicks ass.
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