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  1. #1
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    Need more power at the end of the race

    I am 57 and ride 100+ miles a week in a hilly-ish area about 2/3 commuting and 1/3 sport riding. I am also currently taking an adult basic racing course at the Trexlertown Velodrome for the third season. The class consists of 30 minutes warm ups, 30 minutes drills and 30 minutes of racing.

    Last year I had a serious lack of punch at the end of the race. One coach said I needed overspeed training so I started commuting on a fixed gear with 62" gears. I got much better at spinning and this helped me at the track.

    https://youtu.be/OI9bO0BL1WQ

    This year I am running the 62" gears again and I am spinning as well as ever. The school bikes are all geared at 81" so I will have to spin as the speed builds. Still I could use more punch at the end of the race.

    I have been doing ~500m sprints with the 62" gears as part of my commute. I am wondering if I should switch up the gearing to more like 72" and continue with 500m sprints.

    Is there something else I should be trying?

    Race Safe,

    Joe

  2. #2
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwjoe View Post
    I am 57 and ride 100+ miles a week in a hilly-ish area about 2/3 commuting and 1/3 sport riding. I am also currently taking an adult basic racing course at the Trexlertown Velodrome for the third season. The class consists of 30 minutes warm ups, 30 minutes drills and 30 minutes of racing.

    Last year I had a serious lack of punch at the end of the race. One coach said I needed overspeed training so I started commuting on a fixed gear with 62" gears. I got much better at spinning and this helped me at the track.

    https://youtu.be/OI9bO0BL1WQ

    This year I am running the 62" gears again and I am spinning as well as ever. The school bikes are all geared at 81" so I will have to spin as the speed builds. Still I could use more punch at the end of the race.

    I have been doing ~500m sprints with the 62" gears as part of my commute. I am wondering if I should switch up the gearing to more like 72" and continue with 500m sprints.

    Is there something else I should be trying?

    Race Safe,

    Joe
    What kind of races are we talking about? What distances or how many laps?

    Also, spinning 62" gears won't necessarily make you faster. It just makes you good at spinning small gears easily (this is important, too, btw).

  3. #3
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    The races are usually short. 6-12 laps on a 333m track. Last year I did my best in the miss and out type race.

    Joe

  4. #4
    Senior Member wens's Avatar
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    Is the rest of your field in rental bikes, I. E. Is everyone on the same gearing?
    Do you think we're gonna make it? / I don't know unless we try \ you could sit here scared to move / or we could take them by surprise

  5. #5
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Spinning a low gear will help you get comfortable at a high cadence. But there are a lot of components to power at the end of the race - putting down power while at a high cadence, for one; and another is the strength to accelerate your gear (and your body/bike) up to that cadence! Many of us lift weights in the offseason to work on this (the squad and the deadlift being the bread and butter).

    But, if you're more or less a beginner, really all you need to do is just keep practicing. Go out and do stuff that feels hard.

    500m sprints during your commute - that's pretty good. Also try a 1-2 max-effort sprints, 1-2x/week, on your way home. They should be hard enough that it's hard to keep riding afterward (and indeed, you should go very easy for 10+ minutes after doing one).

    While you're racing, pay attention to your "limiters" - what's stopping you from going faster or winning? Is it your legs? your lungs? the speed at which you're turning the pedals? Can you go faster than everybody else but just not by the time the end of the race rolls around? As yourself these questions, find the answers, and then go out and work on the specific types of efforts that make the difference between losing and winning.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  6. #6
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wens View Post
    Is the rest of your field in rental bikes, I. E. Is everyone on the same gearing?
    Yes, all of the school bikes are geared the same. There are a couple of guys who have their own and they tend to have more gear. You can ride any gear in class, but for the final race everyone needs to be at 81".

    Joe

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    Best advice I would give to someone like you was said above, "really all you need to do is just keep practicing. Go out and do stuff that feels hard." Keep it simple, keep it fun. Maybe try and find some people on the road to push you harder, or pick some short routes and try to set faster and faster times on them.

    Don't worry about finding the magic gear combination or interval that will make you a super star. Its a slow process, for everyone, just keep at it and you will get stronger over time. And don't forget to plan to rest and fuel properly!


    on a side note I love the newbie racing series (as it appears in the video), that is a rare thing sometimes. A lot of tracks can be very intimidating and lack that intro to the sport, and that looks like an awesome time.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    I think I will gear the bike back up to something comfortable and start working on intervals. Just doing stuff that is hard (and fast).

    At tonight's class we did timed flying 200m sprints. I was second fastest at 15.35. I miss-timed the start. I will shoot to be in the 14's at the end of the session.

    Yes, it was a hoot to race at the series finals. They work our races into the regular Friday night show. We have judges, the announcer, lights, music and of course, the fans. It is a lot of fun.

    The Trexlertown track is not intimidating at all. They welcome anyone that can ride a bike. You get a nice bike to ride and world class coaches. Last year we had Kim Geist About the Coach for a few sessions. I am lucky to have such a facility so close.

    Ride Safe,

    Joe

  9. #9
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwjoe View Post
    I think I will gear the bike back up to something comfortable and start working on intervals. Just doing stuff that is hard (and fast).

    At tonight's class we did timed flying 200m sprints. I was second fastest at 15.35. I miss-timed the start. I will shoot to be in the 14's at the end of the session.

    Yes, it was a hoot to race at the series finals. They work our races into the regular Friday night show. We have judges, the announcer, lights, music and of course, the fans. It is a lot of fun.

    The Trexlertown track is not intimidating at all. They welcome anyone that can ride a bike. You get a nice bike to ride and world class coaches. Last year we had Kim Geist About the Coach for a few sessions. I am lucky to have such a facility so close.

    Ride Safe,

    Joe
    Welcome to the sport, Joe.

    The list of great racers that have come from and passed through TTown is endless. It's got arguably the fastest racing in the Western Hemisphere. Many of us here at bikeforums have raced there (and some still do). It's a great scene for all (juniors, elites, masters, and women).

    Kim is awesome, BTW. She just won bronze at the latest world championships. She's literally one of the best racers in the world.

    You'll learn more as you go. There is so much to learn. That's the fun (and addictive) part about track racing. The idea that we can always be a little faster if we do something majorly or slightly different. It's fun to figure it all out.

  10. #10
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    I know I am blessed. Friday I hope to go up to see the tandems race.

    Race Safe,

    Joe

  11. #11
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    I used to race on West coast velodromes and had (unfortunately) similar outcome. I use to train a lot in a 64 inch gear 45 x 19--- bad idea looking back. Hey let's face it, it's all about who can move the biggest gear. I think you need to think about the principals of resistance training. Try training in way too big of a gear, so when you race on the track, that 88 inch gear, or whatever you are using seems small.

  12. #12
    Senior Member taras0000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian25 View Post
    I used to race on West coast velodromes and had (unfortunately) similar outcome. I use to train a lot in a 64 inch gear 45 x 19--- bad idea looking back. Hey let's face it, it's all about who can move the biggest gear. I think you need to think about the principals of resistance training. Try training in way too big of a gear, so when you race on the track, that 88 inch gear, or whatever you are using seems small.
    Unfortunately, this advice is an oversimplification in applying one concept of training to be all of your training. It's just as bad as training in a 64" gear all the time.

    As Carleton, queerpunk, and gtrob mentioned, there are different approaches to gaining speed. Gears are just leverage ratios that turn your power into forward motion. Think of them like weights in the weightroom. Different weights with different training approaches will train different aspects of your fitness. These aspects are in some ways interrelated. Speed is ultimately determined by power. Power is determined by strength and speed (how fast you produce that strength). So you have to train both speed and strength to get faster. You also have to train your aerobic engine as well so that you aren't gassed before the final sprint, so you can lay down all that power that you have been developing in training. Marrying those aspects together makes you faster.

    You'll learn that going faster is as much about technique as it is about physical prowess. Push yourself and practice. You will improve. You've got great resources available to you in T-Town and this board. Most importantly - HAVE FUN!
    Taras - :noun. 1. Typically an overweight has-been that can sometimes be seen pootling around a velodrome on an old Look KG 233.

  13. #13
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taras0000 View Post
    You'll learn that going faster is as much about technique as it is about physical prowess.
    Excellent sentence and I can't stress it enough.

    As an example: a friend of mine is in her second year of racing and she is already one of the standout riders at our velodrome. She has a wicked sprint. She is comfortable, aggressive, and ambitious. She loses races because of poor steep-velodrome technique that saps her speed and hangs her out in the wind on other riders' hips.

    I watch a lot of racers who are super strong, but not strong enough to simply ride away from adversity. The ones who can sneak around and get every advantage do themselves huge favors. Ones who give away speed and position due to poor technique encounter a lot more difficulty.

    Some of the best racers aren't the naturals. They're the ones who have had to fight for every upgrade point, who have had to dig and scramble and scrabble for their successes. They've gotten crafty. They've figured out how to beat people who can put out much, much more power than they can. They punch above their weight.

    To put it in roadie terms, it's like gaining time on the descent, not on the climb.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Velocirapture's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    Excellent sentence and I can't stress it enough.

    As an example: a friend of mine is in her second year of racing and she is already one of the standout riders at our velodrome. She has a wicked sprint. She is comfortable, aggressive, and ambitious. She loses races because of poor steep-velodrome technique that saps her speed and hangs her out in the wind on other riders' hips.

    I watch a lot of racers who are super strong, but not strong enough to simply ride away from adversity. The ones who can sneak around and get every advantage do themselves huge favors. Ones who give away speed and position due to poor technique encounter a lot more difficulty.

    Some of the best racers aren't the naturals. They're the ones who have had to fight for every upgrade point, who have had to dig and scramble and scrabble for their successes. They've gotten crafty. They've figured out how to beat people who can put out much, much more power than they can. They punch above their weight.

    To put it in roadie terms, it's like gaining time on the descent, not on the climb.
    ^ Nice.
    (and true of a lot of life, as an aside).

    I'm in agreement with all of the above. My 2c is on the ' yes power, but how?'. Basically, look at your numbers.
    if you have a bike computer that can give you rpm and speed, the key is to get the same RPM that you can on the 62", on a bigger gear. So as everyone has said, build up strength to add to your spin. You've been working on the speed; keep that up by keeping an eye on your pedaling rpm. Add the strength (gym/ hills/ starts/ bigger gears, etc), and you can turn a bigger gear at the same speed.

    Happy riding
    (since that's what its all about, anyway ;-) )
    "All this talk of climbing is making me feel kinda queasy..." -- Baby Puke

  15. #15
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocirapture View Post
    ^ Nice.
    (and true of a lot of life, as an aside).

    I'm in agreement with all of the above. My 2c is on the ' yes power, but how?'. Basically, look at your numbers.
    if you have a bike computer that can give you rpm and speed, the key is to get the same RPM that you can on the 62", on a bigger gear. So as everyone has said, build up strength to add to your spin. You've been working on the speed; keep that up by keeping an eye on your pedaling rpm. Add the strength (gym/ hills/ starts/ bigger gears, etc), and you can turn a bigger gear at the same speed.

    Happy riding
    (since that's what its all about, anyway ;-) )
    Thanks for all of the encouragement. Last year I started training with the lower gears to train my legs to spin more efficiently. I believe I have accomplished this goal. I am switching up to a bigger gear to work on power. I have been sprinting on my rides and I think I am getting better at it. My goal is to go faster longer. I think I am getting a little improvement. Last class I was 2nd fastest with a 15.35 in the 200m.

    I truly understand that strength is only part of the equation. In the last race (a stinky 3 lap scratch) I finished 3rd. I believe I would have done better if I had realized the guy in front of me was jumping sooner. As it was I let him get 2-3 bikes ahead of me and I could not make it up. Practice...


    Ride Safe,
    Joe

  16. #16
    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    A few thoughts from another 57 year old and who also did lots of commuting (46 miles RT) and hills and long rides etc.
    First thing is the simplest , YOU NEED A PLAN. I di that this winter through the spring and everyone is pretty amazed at my progression in power.
    I was in good shape, others were better, but you have to get into TRACK SHAPE.

    So here's my advise. Get hold of Kim Geist at T-town. She runs training programs, coaches and will improve whatever it is you need for the track.

    Once you get your body adapted for increased endurance, speed and explosiveness you will see results.

    In my case I worked on leg speed and ability to get power up quicker. Of late I have worked on my power sprint to beat the other guy in the last 100m.

    As stated by EVERYONE, there is alot to learn beyond your bike strength/speed as there is racing smarts. The more you race the faster that will be developed and a coach (KIM) or someone else who watches you in a race can give you valuable feed back
    Robert
    Not The Slowest, Never The Fastest, even Solo

  17. #17
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    The first session ended last night. We repeated the 200m sprint. This time I got 14.38 seconds. This is a huge improvement over my 15.35 second run about 3 weeks ago. I feel somewhat stronger since I have been doing 1/4 mile efforts on the street in 73" gears. The finals are the Friday after next. We will see how it goes.

    This weekend I have the fixed gear Fondo out of Yardley PA. I can't wait to ride with a bunch of other fixed gear bikes.

    Ride Safe,

    Joe

  18. #18
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwjoe View Post
    The first session ended last night. We repeated the 200m sprint. This time I got 14.38 seconds. This is a huge improvement over my 15.35 second run about 3 weeks ago. I feel somewhat stronger since I have been doing 1/4 mile efforts on the street in 73" gears. The finals are the Friday after next. We will see how it goes.

    This weekend I have the fixed gear Fondo out of Yardley PA. I can't wait to ride with a bunch of other fixed gear bikes.

    Ride Safe,

    Joe
    That's great news.

    Understand that the flying 200 is a very technical event. I've seen new riders take off over 1 second in the same training session when they get guidance picking the right line and orchestrating the windup properly.

    Also, 73" gears aren't helping you any. Race gears on the track (for any age) start in the high 80s.

    Pro Tip:

    Focus on your data collection on your cadences. There exists a sweet spot in the cadence range for all athletes. The key is to find out what your sweet spot is then pick the biggest gear that you get work into that sweet spot.

    It's just like a manual transmission car. There is a sweet spot in the power band and you feel it in every gear you switch to. Before and after that sweet spot, the power is lacking. But, in that sweet spot, you really feel the car pull.

    Cadence is the King metric

  19. #19
    Senior Member bmwjoe's Avatar
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    I agree that the 200m sprint is technical. Last year and the year before I could not break into the 14's. This year I worked on my technique and strength. I found that approaching the sprint a little slower allowed me to be smoother on the spin up and get a good pull down the track letting me accelerate better. The strength training let me maintain around the turn and down the straight. I was very happy with the 14.38.

    The school bikes are all geared at 48x16 or 81". In my 40+ years of road riding I have always pushed a big gear and never spin. On the school bikes I was spinning harder than I would normally and I could not maintain. My legs would get tired and give up very quickly and I had nothing at the end. Last year I borrowed a fixed gear bike for the street with 62" gears. I rode this bike everywhere, commuting and on pleasure rides. Up and DOWN hills. I got smoother at spinning and more comfortable. At the bottom of one hill I would hit 32 mph, which calculates to ~180 rpm. I was not pushing the 180, but the bike was in control and I could do it every day. This made a huge difference on the track last year. Instead of pooping out at the end of the race I could continue my wind up and I would be there at the finish. It was like installing a new cam in my legs...

    Here are my comments from 2 years ago:
    Joe's Track Experience

    This year I have my own fixed gear bike for the street. I reverted back to the 63" gears at the beginning of the season after running 73" gears over the winter and spring. I think this was a mistake as my legs already knew how to spin. Last week I went back to 73" gears and started doing 1/4 mile sprints. I would switch to 81" gears, but I have significant hills on my ride and I don't think I could pull them in such a big gear. The sprints are making my legs stronger (well at least the muscles are sore). I think this was part of my strong 200m time. I think I will stick with this plan for the next few days then rest for a couple days before the final race on 7/31.

    Thanks for everyone's advice.

    Ride Safe,

    Joe

  20. #20
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I'm glad to see that you are progressing. You mention doing fixed gear workouts on the road a lot. Just be careful doing sprints with a fixed gear bike on the street. Even with brakes, things can get hairy sometimes.

    The only fixed gear street riding I've done is casual spinning fat-burning rides (they didn't work ). No hard efforts.

    If you want more effective training, maybe invest in a good mag trainer and trainer tire combo or a high quality spin bike. That way you can train low torque spinning or high torque grinding safely from home. You can also match the desired cadence with the desired torque to match race conditions.

  21. #21
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    I agree, fixed gear sprint work on the streets is pretty sketchy.

    My high speed work was done either on a road bike in very small gears (even with a slight downhill incline) and on the rollers. Roller rev outs helped me a lot with my RPM. Really helps you have an efficient high rpm burst. So IMO if you want to work on leg speed, roller work and geared bike on the street work will help a bunch.

    81" for a commute seems pretty gross. If you want to work on power, the gym is where the most gains will be had.
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