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Old 04-01-08, 12:21 PM   #1
Creakyknees
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Gearing tips for noob

So I'm not a cycling noob - started racing road in the 80's and have done every discipline except track till now.

Borrowed a buddy's bike for my intro course at the Superdrome a couple weeks back. It had 50x14 on it (!) which I knew was high, but he didn't have anything else handy.

These days on the road I race cat 4 masters... so I'm not spinning any 50x14 unless it's downhill with a tailwind, drafting.

Our local Friday night races are mostly short scratches, points and miss n outs. I'm a decent road sprinter but the only races I've won were solo attacks and small group sprints after long RR's, so I'm definitely an endurance guy.

Help me out with my reasoning and how to think about gear choices...

So I've been playing around with Sheldon's gear calculator, using this logic: I can TT / threshold around 23 mph, and can comfortably sit a small group in the 25mph range.

I spin comfortably / optimally at around 100 cadence.

So, do I pick a gear that spins 100 at 25mph? Or 23? Or something else I'm missing?

thanks
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Old 04-01-08, 02:34 PM   #2
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It is difficult to quantify what gear to use, when I started I had a similar situation to yourself, I had two choices 49/51 x 15, 88.2/91.8 inches in old speak, I used the lower for warm up, and the larger for racing, everything from 200, 3000 pursuit 10km scratch and 15km madison, I personally, (not scientifically) find that leg speed is more important than inches and I am currently working on maximum leg speed i.e 120 to 160 rpm for pursuit and sprint, then I am working on leg strength in the gym to gain the inches. By gaining inches I mean during training I time my 100m standing starts, flying 100, flying laps and pursuits on gears in sequence, I judge feel i.e can I get on top of the gear (physically comfortable with leg strength to spin it up to <130 rpmish), then I compare the times obtained, some gears feel good, but the times do not show this. I hope this is of some use, I have not even covered the aspect of racing when you have to pick a gear to race on dependent on the conditions, I have raced my entire first 2 years on 91.8 listening to competitors chat in angst discussing whether the wind/track/competitors warranted another inch or less for peak performance. Even now when I train I carry a chart with combinations and inches, then I write what I'm using on tape and stick it to my stem to remind me.
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Old 04-01-08, 02:43 PM   #3
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Ok, I have a normally high rate of cadence; for example on road group rides everybody else is in the big ring while I'm spinning along in the 39/15 or so.

I think I'll go for like a 46x15 or 48x15 for starters; the 50 is definitely too big for me to jump effectively and I never felt like I really got it spinning.
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Old 04-01-08, 04:45 PM   #4
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This works for single cogs too.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
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Old 04-01-08, 05:19 PM   #5
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There's a difference between the 'jump' and maintaining your optimum cadence in a particular gear. That's what people talk about when they mention 'getting on top of the gear'.

It depends on the type of racing you are doing as to how easy or difficult getting on top of the gear might be. The track and conditions will also factor in that.

Ultimately I'd stay away from gear calculators for trying to calculate a theoretical optimum gear. You are riding 96.5 in 50/14. I ride this gear all the time on a very fast indoor track. On my usual outdoor track it's way to big and I find 90 (50/15) is what works there. If I was you I'd try 90 inches, then increment up or down from there if you are either struggling with the gear or spinning it out.

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Old 04-01-08, 11:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
Ok, I have a normally high rate of cadence; for example on road group rides everybody else is in the big ring while I'm spinning along in the 39/15 or so.

I think I'll go for like a 46x15 or 48x15 for starters; the 50 is definitely too big for me to jump effectively and I never felt like I really got it spinning.
I just started going to beginner sessions at my track and have been running 46x15 which works just fine. I can keep up with everyone, just means I'm spinning a little bit faster than the people that show up with closer to 90 gear inches. I have a new crankset coming in and it has a 47 chainring, so I'm just going to stick to 47x15 for the next month and drop down to a 14t cog in May when my fitness is better.
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Old 04-02-08, 01:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by sideshow_bob View Post
There's a difference between the 'jump' and maintaining your optimum cadence in a particular gear. That's what people talk about when they mention 'getting on top of the gear'.

It depends on the type of racing you are doing as to how easy or difficult getting on top of the gear might be. The track and conditions will also factor in that.

Ultimately I'd stay away from gear calculators for trying to calculate a theoretical optimum gear. You are riding 96.5 in 50/14. I ride this gear all the time on a very fast indoor track. On my usual outdoor track it's way to big and I find 90 (50/15) is what works there. If I was you I'd try 90 inches, then increment up or down from there if you are either struggling with the gear or spinning it out.
+3

It all depends on the track, the type of racing, and who's there on a given day, as well as your fitness and strength at any given time.

That said, a 50x14 is huge unless you're a big sprinter or racing in big elite fields where the speed is going to be *really* high all the time, with bursts even higher. Typical starting out gears are 82-86 for warming up, 88-92 for mass start racing, 92+ for individual pursuit, 94+ for Team Pursuit, and maybe 94+ for sprinting (but I'm not a sprinter, so don't trust me on that). As you get more experience you'll end up with a big bag of chainrings and cogs and change them pretty frequently.
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