I have just started racing at the local velodrome, which has weekly racing with a variety of races for beginners: longer scratch and points races, some medium-length point-a-laps, a monthly "sprint night," and occasional kilos and time trials. What sort of gearing changes are typical for these various types of races?
My bike came with a 48x16 (81.0). That was nice for tooling around, but I'm a big guy -- my power-to-weight ratio is blessed by big power, and cursed by big weight -- so I went up to 49x15 (88.2) for "racing." This seems comfortable enough most of the time (to the extent a guy without much endurance can be comfortable at all). I'm still at the back of the pack, and I do feel that I'm falling back mostly because of lungs, and not legs.
Obviously, increasing my endurance and getting more track experience will be most beneficial. But I'm also wondering if I can do a little better sooner by smartly picking gears race by race. Maybe back down to the mid-80s for the medium-length races, and up into the low 90s for sprints and time trials? I do see some of the more experienced racers switching cogs from time to time. Any ideas, or just some beginners' rules for "typical" gear differences up and down in various races, would be appreciated.
The best thing to do is ask what the local experienced racers use to race and train on. In some cases its track dependant. For instance at Forest City Velodrome in London, Ontario the faster racers like using 88" and 90" to race but will often train on 81 - 84". In training if your spinning your nuts off aka overspeeding your training your legs not only to spin but to put power out at ******** leg speeds. Some people understand the idea, some people dont. Those who get it, suffer thru training races on light gears do and when it comes time to really race come out on top.
As far as gearing in events go you need to do some trial and error and find out what workds for you. Gearing has to fit into the leg speed you can produce. From my coach, Traditionalaly sprinters qualify at 150-155, Kilo at 140-145, Pursuiters 120-125 and mass start anywear from 100 - 140. So if you can bring a specific gear up to a decent cadence dont use it. At the same time in standing start events you need should be able to get to your top speed inside of 200 meters. If it takes you 350 to get up to speed in a kilo you need a lighter gear, or more squats