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Thread: Getting faster

  1. #1
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Getting faster

    Hey guys, this may be a stupid question but I had my first beginner session yesterday and had a blast. The question now is... how do I get faster? Should I focus on long training rides with the fixed? Maybe climbing with the fixed? Extended climbs with the roadie? Hours on rollers? I want to get faster, but I don't know where to start.
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    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    To do it right is not something that one can understand quickly. Not from a forum post, that's for sure.

    I was in your shoes last year. What I did is just start racing on the track. Talk to a lot of people. Make friends from the track. You will learn a lot simply by being there.

    I ended up getting a coach which is expensive, who required that I get not one, but two power meters which is REALLY expensive. But I can tell you that even though I have not raced yet this season, I am way faster. 6 months of committed sprint training will do amazing things.

    To summarize though, I think you need to get to the gym and get used to doing squats, dead lifts, power cleans, and plyometrics like box jumps. On the bike, find a local hill and go as hard as you can for 1-3 minutes at a time. If you go 1 minute, try to get to a point further than the last time you did the same 1 minute effort. Each time. If you don't have a power meter, I think that is the best approach..

    From a nutritional standpoint, end every hard workout with 30 grams of protein and plenty of carbs. Strive to consume a gram of protein in a day per lb of body weight, without consuming more than 30 grams per meal.

    Ok there's my advice. Good luck!
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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaytron View Post
    Hey guys, this may be a stupid question but I had my first beginner session yesterday and had a blast. The question now is... how do I get faster? Should I focus on long training rides with the fixed? Maybe climbing with the fixed? Extended climbs with the roadie? Hours on rollers? I want to get faster, but I don't know where to start.
    First off, WELCOME to the sport!! You are now a "Trackie"!

    mcafiero is assuming that you are like him and are predisposed to being a sprinter. Also, Mark's coach monitors Mark's progress with the files from the power meters on his road and track bikes and adjusts his training program accordingly. I, too, have a power meter, but that's because I'm a data nut. Remember, MOST track racers do not use power meters. I'd say something on the order of 98%, if I had to guess. In the history of cycling, power meters are a very recent invention. Good meals, water, sleep, and stopwatches have made FAR more great cyclists than supplements, energy drinks, and power meters.

    I use my power meter simply as a training log to record my training and monitor speed and cadence data and occasional power. Basically I use it in place of having a coach timing me with a stopwatch. As an Elite World Champion once told me "Power meters are really effective for pacing in pursuit training and racing. Not so much for sprinting. There is no pacing in sprinting."

    I agree with mcafiero that gym fitness definitely helps with track racing and road cycling in general. There is certainly a bigger anaerobic part to track cycling than long distance road cycling. Of course, as I'm sure you've noticed, dedicated track sprinters spend A LOT of time in the gym, but this means that their short distance game will improve while (chances are) they will lose a good bit of the endurance necessary for longer races.

    Assuming your location under your avatar is correct, you live in California near a very active track and you have great weather for road training. Like mcafiero says, spend as much time as you can there doing as much as you can. This includes not only racing, but clinics, training, and watching others race. Track racing isn't rocket science. You can learn most of what you'll need to know within one season in terms of rules, dos/don'ts, tactics, advanced tactics, etc...if you pay attention and get lots of opportunities to use them.

    It's easy to get caught up in equipment (frames, wheels, power meters, carbon fiber, etc...), but as a new racer, time on the track and road miles will make you faster than any of that other stuff. On the road, ride with purpose. Don't just lolly-gag around for a few hours hitting up random coffee shops. Maybe find a group ride that's faster than you and hang on for dear life. Or simply bury yourself on solo rides (that's what I do). If you think you'll like longer endurance stuff, a heart rate monitor would be a good investment. These are relatively inexpensive (in the bike world) and very useful if you lean how to use it. But, still, you won't need this until (and unless) you start doing pursuit racing).

    Specificity in training will come when you look specialize into in one of the 3 broad categories: Sprint, All-Around, or Endurance.

    Right now, I'd vote for you riding lots, racing, watching, asking questions (like you are doing now), eating a lot to replace the calories you'll burn, and most importantly, become a student of the sport. This means reading, watching, and asking questions. Pay attention to those who are ahead of you in the sport (locally and at higher levels). Take note of what they do and find out why they do it. Pay attention to what gear they use...and more importantly, what gear the don't use.

    Also, others may disagree, but riding a fixed gear on the road doesn't really do much (if anything) to help you track racing. If that's your only bike, then I understand. But, a road bike will be MUCH more useful and effective as a training tool.

    TL;DR: Ride lots. Ask questions. Become a student of the sport.
    Last edited by carleton; 03-11-12 at 05:34 PM.

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Also, a lot of people wonder, "Should I be a Sprinter or Enduro?"

    Most experience people say race a full season and evaluate afterwards. Chances are, your strengths (and weaknesses) will have come out by then. It's hard to tell from the beginning because most rank beginners suck at everything for a while and only when their basic strength and fitness start coming on do they start excelling at one genre of racing over another. So, that's why they say wait a while.

    On the other hand, if you have been an athlete in the past (High School, College, etc...) maybe you've already made some sort of distinction. Track & Field is related more to cycling that any other sport. So, if a person was a T&F long distance runner in HS, then their muscle fiber composition may have already been proven to be predisposed to endurance events. And the same goes for sprinters and middle distance runners. That's how some people can come into this sport with prior knowledge and know not to even pursue specializing in certain areas (except for training purposes) because it's just not in them.

    Of course, as soon as I write that, I know that there are just some straight-up gifted athletes who really can do it all...with the right training, of course. One recent example is Jennie Reed of the United States. Reed was the fastest female sprinter in the US for several years as well as one of the fastest in the world winning the World Championship Keirin in 2008 (among LOTS of other accolades). Now she is a world-class endurance racer winning silver in the 2011 World Championships in team pursuit as well as placing 2nd in a World Cup Scratch Race.

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    Wow! Lots of great info here. I was a bit bummed as my riding time in general has been non-existant since recoving from wrist surgery a year ago. I've finally been able to get back into the gym a few weeks ago and start building up my strength. Also sold my road bike right before surgery so right now I only have my mountain bike to ride, which is better than nothing but I feel like it's going to limit my efforts (started shopping for a road bike recently). I'd love to have the power of a sprinter but as I go through my on-track clinics and start spending more time on the track and learning I figure I'll get a better feeling. One thing I was told was to try any and every event. Kind of get a feel for what each is like plus it'll also help build up my fitness and strength which is seriously lacking right now. Best of luck and congrats on your class!
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    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for the awesome info Carleton. I'm stoked to finally be a "Trackie" haha. I had so much fun. I feel like I'm much more of a sprinter, I've never been an endurance athlete, and was more about bursts of speed when playing casual sports.

    The location is correct, I actually can ride to the velodrome (although after how much the first training session kicked my ass, I may drive next time). I also have a ton of friends that ride road, and I can easily hop on a trail and ride 30~50mi without cars in the way. (I do own a roadie as well as my fixed, the fixed is typically my commuter as well). Our local track is pretty awesome, after my beginner courses, I may try to hop in the advanced training open track days to observe and talk to the more experienced track guys. Hopefully they're pretty friendly as well.

    I'm stoked for the time change, the extra hours of daylight will be awesome.

    As for gear ratio to run/not to run... Right now I'm running 49/18, which is about 72gi.. Not sure if I should bump it up or not. Sure I'll have a greater top speed, but if it burns out my legs quicker in the process, is it still worth it?

    Bonus- There was a photographer and I got lucky enough for him to snap an awesome shot of me:
    Last edited by Jaytron; 03-11-12 at 09:41 PM.
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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    No problem.

    There is a post in a thread somewhere on this page or the next one where I outline a basic beginner gear ratio progression. But, it starts at 81" (48t/16t). I have never used a 18t cog on the track nor have I seen anyone else do it. 17t are just as rare.

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    Senior Member joshpants's Avatar
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    Being an awful lot closer to Jaytron than Carlton in experience and speed as well I'm sure - I have a 17t I love for spinning out with a 48 at our tiny track (this is 142m). I'm doing 2-3 hours on it on weekends aiming to keep a high cadence over many miles right now in my "base" period. I do the same ratio on the rollers occasionally, but definitely not for that period of time!

    On a 333 like San Jose (Or CSprings), that'd be way spun out for me personally.

    Some local former pros and other miscellaneous elites use and advocate for this same ratio - but again on 142, which is very, very different.

    FWIW (not worth the paper you'd print it on from me), again as more of a beginner who is not a good sprinter, I'm using somewhere ~85-95 on the 333 for all around events.

  9. #9
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshpants View Post
    Being an awful lot closer to Jaytron than Carlton in experience and speed as well I'm sure - I have a 17t I love for spinning out with a 48 at our tiny track (this is 142m). I'm doing 2-3 hours on it on weekends aiming to keep a high cadence over many miles right now in my "base" period. I do the same ratio on the rollers occasionally, but definitely not for that period of time!

    On a 333 like San Jose (Or CSprings), that'd be way spun out for me personally.

    Some local former pros and other miscellaneous elites use and advocate for this same ratio - but again on 142, which is very, very different.

    FWIW (not worth the paper you'd print it on from me), again as more of a beginner who is not a good sprinter, I'm using somewhere ~85-95 on the 333 for all around events.
    Thanks for the input! I'll probably slap a 16 on there so I'm at least at 80gi.
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    Senior Member joshpants's Avatar
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    Cogs and lock-rings aren't too expensive on amazon - possibly cheaper elsewhere. Get a few and play around.

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    Hey bro whats up. Like you I am new to the track also. As far as how to get faster I have been given a few pointers and they have really helped me bring my initial speed up significantly. A few of the things involve the correct position on the saddle, and stroke technique-- but the biggest gains I have seen come from twice a week weight workouts doing heavy squats and dead lifts. So if you can make it to the gym give it a try--- I bet before long you will notice big improvement in your initial speed(being able to hit 30 mph or so very quickly). Now I just need to get faster and hold that speed for a longer period of time. Any way hang in there and good luck this year. Later brother!

  12. #12
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joakley View Post
    Hey bro whats up. Like you I am new to the track also. As far as how to get faster I have been given a few pointers and they have really helped me bring my initial speed up significantly. A few of the things involve the correct position on the saddle, and stroke technique-- but the biggest gains I have seen come from twice a week weight workouts doing heavy squats and dead lifts. So if you can make it to the gym give it a try--- I bet before long you will notice big improvement in your initial speed(being able to hit 30 mph or so very quickly). Now I just need to get faster and hold that speed for a longer period of time. Any way hang in there and good luck this year. Later brother!
    Thanks for the input!
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    For what it's worth, most tracks won't let you race with the water-bottle launcher on your seatpost.

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    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Broon View Post
    For what it's worth, most tracks won't let you race with the water-bottle launcher on your seatpost.
    Yeah, he saw it was bolted on and was fine with it, as long as there was no bottle there.
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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    The short answer for how to get faster is to spend more time riding faster. I was at my fastest (as an endurance rider) when I was doing a lot of motorpacing and madison practice. The long road rides are good for you, and will give you the endurance to go hard for longer, but to get faster you have do fast training. Down here there are a pretty regular motorpace opportunities, and times when you can hop on faster pacelines and not have to work, and madison training when it's a lot of full on/full off. Riding smaller gears helps build up the spin, but 72" is *really* small for track racing. 81" is pretty common for a small gear, and I never spent much time on a gear smaller than 86" or 88".
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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Track & Field is related more to cycling that any other sport.
    except for speed skating (ice or inline)...

    Reed was the fastest female sprinter in the US for several years as well as one of the fastest in the world winning the World Championship Keirin in 2008 (among LOTS of other accolades). Now she is a world-class endurance racer winning silver in the 2011 World Championships in team pursuit as well as placing 2nd in a World Cup Scratch Race.
    Jenny was a pursuiter before she was a sprinter... She's just got all-around a lot of power that she can put out for a long time *and* in bursts.
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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitingduck View Post
    except for speed skating (ice or inline)...
    Good point!

    Did you see the Canadian Heather Moyse who rode a 35.0" 500M only months after starting on the bike? Crazy. I believe she won 4th and 5th in the 500M and Sprints at Pan Am Championships last week. She put in years of strength and power work as an Olympic gold medal winning bobsledder.

    Quote Originally Posted by bitingduck View Post
    Jenny was a pursuiter before she was a sprinter... She's just got all-around a lot of power that she can put out for a long time *and* in bursts.
    Ha. I did not know this. Watching her destroy the field in the final laps of a scratch race is amazing. Like here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm7byxpNSiY&t=13m

    Of course, she didn't win this year because Kim Geist had lapped the field much earlier in the race.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Did you see the Canadian Heather Moyse who rode a 35.0" 500M only months after starting on the bike?
    Didn't see her, but heard about it when she rode the local TTs. She's certainly be training for starting power for a while!


    Ha. I did not know this. Watching her destroy the field in the final laps of a scratch race is amazing.
    I only heard about it because everyone around here was surprised to see her switch, and then it came out she'd been a pursuiter before.
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