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Track Cycling: Velodrome Racing and Training Area Looking to enter into the realm of track racing? Want to share your experiences and tactics for riding on a velodrome? The Track Cycling forums is for you! Come in and discuss training/racing, equipment, and current track cycling events.

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Old 04-23-12, 10:47 AM   #1
Juan el Boricua
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Newbie; recommendation

Hi everyone. I'll be new to track racing, and have a road bike conversion that will become my trainer. Currently it has a 78" Gear inch/ almost a 6 gain ratio. Is this a good training gear? I've never raced, or being at a velodrome for that matter, so I'm thinking it is a good compromise for beginner's strength and spinning. Am I correct? thanks in Advance. Also, why there aren't any track bikes with a 52t or larger chainring?
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Old 04-23-12, 02:44 PM   #2
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A large chainring will flex more than a small one. So most racers will opt for a small cog, small chainring. Thats why big rings arent very common.
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Old 04-24-12, 11:43 AM   #3
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Most people start with a 48x16 and may go up to 52 chainring and/or down to 15mm cog depending on their ability and the race they are doing (carleton has posted a bit on his preffered chaingring/cog quiver in the past - just search).
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Old 04-25-12, 02:12 PM   #4
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Kayce, Chas58, thanks! Just wondering;it makes sense.
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Old 05-07-12, 03:21 PM   #5
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Most people start with a 48x16 and may go up to 52 chainring and/or down to 15mm cog depending on their ability and the race they are doing (carleton has posted a bit on his preffered chaingring/cog quiver in the past - just search).
Generally it's something like you want 47/48/49 rings with 14/15/16 cogs setup. this covers MANY of the gears you may need. Carleton's advice is about the same, as well as the experienced trackies on my team.
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Old 05-10-12, 01:33 AM   #6
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I would be starting on an 81 inch gear (48 x 16)
It's the perfect warm up gear, great for leg speed.
78" is way too small unless your a junior
try to get a 48T chainring and 14,15,16T cogs to start with. Then eventually a 49/50T chainring
You should then have most bases covered.
Like I said try to get used to warming up on an 81"
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Old 05-10-12, 11:19 AM   #7
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78" is a hipster skid gear, way too low for the track. I also recommend starting out with 81" and work up to 86. When you're ready to sprint, use an 88.
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Old 05-24-12, 05:16 PM   #8
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I found Carleton's old post. Here you go:

Quote:
Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Sweet.

Then you will likely get most use out of a 48t chairing as in:
48/16 for warmup and training races
48/15 for beginner racing
49/15 for beginner racing
50/15 for beginner and/or intermediate racing
47/14 for intermediate racing
48/14 for intermediate and/or advanced racing
49/14 for advanced racing
50/14 for advanced racing

This is a common gear progression at our track for beginners. As you get stronger you will be able to push bigger gears. Notice how the 48 gets lots of use. If you already have a 48, I suggest buying in this order:

1st Purchase: 48t + 16t + 15t
2nd Purchase: 49t
3rd Purchase: 50t
4th Purchase: 47t + 14t

Those gears will take you through about 2 seasons of racing with LOTS of gear combination possibilities.
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Old 05-29-12, 07:27 AM   #9
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Jaytron, WC, Ray; Thanks. Sadly, my "race desire" has not come to fruition, because the closest 'drome is three hours away from home, and has been affected by sciatica, which has been making riding the bike almost unbeareable never mind riding it hard. So, in the meantime, thanks again.
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Old 05-29-12, 03:07 PM   #10
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Are these recommendations for beginning cyclists or just beginning Trackies? I've got a 48x15 on my bike now and feel like I could definitely push a bigger gear especially as I crank up the speed. Also, do more experienced cyclists warm up with the 48x16 combination?

Thanks for reposting this:

Originally Posted by carleton
Sweet.

Then you will likely get most use out of a 48t chairing as in:
48/16 for warmup and training races
48/15 for beginner racing
49/15 for beginner racing
50/15 for beginner and/or intermediate racing
47/14 for intermediate racing
48/14 for intermediate and/or advanced racing
49/14 for advanced racing
50/14 for advanced racing

This is a common gear progression at our track for beginners. As you get stronger you will be able to push bigger gears. Notice how the 48 gets lots of use. If you already have a 48, I suggest buying in this order:

1st Purchase: 48t + 16t + 15t
2nd Purchase: 49t
3rd Purchase: 50t
4th Purchase: 47t + 14t

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Old 05-29-12, 03:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ethman View Post
Are these recommendations for beginning cyclists or just beginning Trackies?
Please clarify your question. Everyone here is a trackie.

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Are these recommendations for beginning cyclists or just beginning Trackies? I've got a 48x15 on my bike now and feel like I could definitely push a bigger gear especially as I crank up the speed. Also, do more experienced cyclists warm up with the 48x16 combination?
Yes. Even at the highest levels of the sport.

The purpose of warm up is to literally warm up your muscles to prepare them for work, as in increase their temperature. 48x16 is a high gear for street use, but the lightest gear for velodrome use. Any gear significantly lighter will mean that the rider will have to spin very fast (100+ RPM) just to stay up on the track...which defeats the purpose of warmup when you are working so hard.
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Old 05-29-12, 11:26 PM   #12
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Please clarify your question. Everyone here is a trackie.
My mistake. What I was trying to figure out was when you referred to "beginning racers" were you clumping all track newbies together regardless of prior cycling experience? And have you found that road cyclists who have already been training and racing on the road still like to progress through the gear ratios that you recommended? I'm sure I'll figure this out as I spend more time at the track...

Last edited by carleton; 05-30-12 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 05-30-12, 12:43 AM   #13
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My mistake. What I was trying to figure out was when you referred to "beginning racers" were you clumping all track newbies together regardless of prior cycling experience? And have you found that road cyclists who have already been training and racing on the road still like to progress through the gear ratios that you recommended? I'm sure I'll figure this out as I spend more time at the track...
Oh. Good question.

No, most experienced (and fast) roadies will dive right in to using the larger gears.

Basically, you want the biggest gear that you can spin up to a certain RPM...let's say 140RPM*.

*This is subject to debate for various reasons, and rightfully so. But it's just to illustrate a point. Most races function at a certain cadence range, like 100-140 RPM. If you look at cadences from beginner, intermediate, and advanced racers, they all use similar cadence ranges. But, the gears are different and that's generally what makes the speed differences in the races.
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:52 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ethman View Post
...And have you found that road cyclists who have already been training and racing on the road still like to progress through the gear ratios that you recommended? I'm sure I'll figure this out as I spend more time at the track...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ethman View Post
Are these recommendations for beginning cyclists or just beginning Trackies? I've got a 48x15 on my bike now and feel like I could definitely push a bigger gear especially as I crank up the speed. Also, do more experienced cyclists warm up with the 48x16 combination?


The answer to your question is personal and comes with experience (as you spend more time at the track).

Just because you can push a larger gear, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A larger gear will give you a higher top end speed, will cause you to accelerate slower, and cause you to run out of energy faster.

Lower gears are great, but sooner or later you will just run out of oxygen.

Since you are new to track and a strong experienced rider, try doing a lot of training in a lower gear and learn how to spin. See how long, hard, and fast you can go with a 48x15. Efficient spinning is important to track racing. Once you get that down, then try the bigger gears.

Last edited by carleton; 05-30-12 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 05-30-12, 10:55 AM   #15
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The answer to your question is personal and comes with experience (as you spend more time at the track).

Just because you can push a larger gear, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A larger gear will give you a higher top end speed, will cause you to accelerate slower, and cause you to run out of energy faster.

Lower gears are great, but sooner or later you will just run out of oxygen.

Since you are new to track and a strong experienced rider, try doing a lot of training in a lower gear and learn how to spin. See how long, hard, and fast you can go with a 48x15. Efficient spinning is important to track racing. Once you get that down, then try the bigger gears.
+1

ethman, don't think that just because you can sprint on a 53x11 on the road that you can easily roll a 48x13 on the track. It doesn't work that way. Take everything you know about gears and throw it out the window.
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.

Last edited by carleton; 05-30-12 at 01:53 PM. Reason: rephrased that last paragraph.
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Old 05-30-12, 12:00 PM   #16
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+1

ethman, understand that just because you can sprint on a 53x11 on the road that you can easily roll a 48x13 on the track. It doesn't work that way. Take everything you know about gears and throw it out the window.
A road sprint in a 53x11 is more comparable to a team pursuit finish than to a points race sprint or scratch race finish. Whatever gear you're in, you have to be able to accelerate over and over and over as the attacks come throughout a race, and at intermediate sprints (every 2.5 km or so in a points race, or every lap in a tempo). Guys in really big gears tend to get shot out the back, chase up, and then get shot out the back again (assuming they chased back up). In a smaller gear you can stay right on top of the absolute hardest accelerations and never have to put your nose in the wind unless you're getting points or opening a gap off the front rather than the back.
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Old 05-30-12, 01:44 PM   #17
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Hey guys, thanks for all the good advice. (Juan, sorry to hijack your thread) Sounds like experience riding in different gears is going to be key to understanding all of this. Just out of curiosity, is 140rpm's on a track bike similar to 100rpm's on a road bike? In other words, the general consensus nowadays seems to be riding a road bike closer to 100 is better than say 80rpm's, even though everyone will ride at slightly different cadences. Is that what 140rpm's are for the track world? A general rule of thumb even though everyone will be slightly different?
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Old 05-30-12, 02:12 PM   #18
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I do not mean this in any negitive way. It is true about everything, including my interests.

Being a good road racer means that you will have a hard time learning on the track. You are going to be faster than most of the 4/5 or D racers, but not have any track knowledge. It is going to be very hard for you to learn much. While racing in the lowest group you will probably be able to win a lot on bad or no strategy beacause of your power. And you won't have to worry much about gear selection because you can just overpower most of the people in your group. At some point your race level will at some point catch up with you, and you wont be able to just overpower people. And that is where you are going to learn. But that is much more annoying. When fumbling around with bad moves and overgearing in the D class youre like every one else, but in the Bs most people have figured that out. I am not trying to discourage you, there are ways to figure all of these things out, and ways to learn how to do it in the low ranks, but it will definatly be harder.
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Old 05-30-12, 02:18 PM   #19
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Hey guys, thanks for all the good advice. (Juan, sorry to hijack your thread) Sounds like experience riding in different gears is going to be key to understanding all of this. Just out of curiosity, is 140rpm's on a track bike similar to 100rpm's on a road bike? In other words, the general consensus nowadays seems to be riding a road bike closer to 100 is better than say 80rpm's, even though everyone will ride at slightly different cadences. Is that what 140rpm's are for the track world? A general rule of thumb even though everyone will be slightly different?
Remember when I wrote this?

Quote:
Take everything you know about gears and throw it out the window.
Stop trying to compare it to road riding. It is so significantly different that comparisons will do more harm than good. Seriously.

Think of it this way:

Generally speaking, nothing significant happens on the track under 100RPM. When a mass start race is rolling, the easy pace is 100RPM and attacks, breaks, bridges, sprints, etc... happen between 100-140RPM.

(Again, these are from-the-hip numbers and not to be considered hard and fast rules).

Here is the US National Championship Points race. It's a long race so you'll see them cruise slowly at the beginning before the gun (to start the race), but once the race gets going the pace is around 100RPM and up. The gears are relatively big. I would guess 94-98 gear inches.


Local racing will use lower gears and slightly lower cadences.
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Roadies can run tempo all year as that's what humans were designed for. If you want to be a cheetah, lay around and lick your paws more.
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Old 05-30-12, 02:26 PM   #20
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I do not mean this in any negitive way. It is true about everything, including my interests.

Being a good road racer means that you will have a hard time learning on the track. You are going to be faster than most of the 4/5 or D racers, but not have any track knowledge. It is going to be very hard for you to learn much. While racing in the lowest group you will probably be able to win a lot on bad or no strategy beacause of your power. And you won't have to worry much about gear selection because you can just overpower most of the people in your group. At some point your race level will at some point catch up with you, and you wont be able to just overpower people. And that is where you are going to learn. But that is much more annoying. When fumbling around with bad moves and overgearing in the D class youre like every one else, but in the Bs most people have figured that out. I am not trying to discourage you, there are ways to figure all of these things out, and ways to learn how to do it in the low ranks, but it will definatly be harder.
This is very true.

This is why it seems that racers who race on the velodrome as juniors with the gear restrictions become better racers on both the road and track as they mature.

It's easier to recover from a high-RPM sprint than it is to recover from a sprint on a high gear. It's easier to get "on top" of a small gear than it is a big gear.

Regarding the fast roadies leaving the other new racers, the director at our track (Jeff Hopkins) demands that the fast roadie guys stay in the pack at least until the final sprint so that they will learn pack skills that they may not have picked up on the road.

To make a broad generalization here, you can tell the difference between triathletes, roadies, veteran roadies, and trackies by their comfort level when riding close in group rides. The trackies and veteran roadies are closest together (fore/aft and side/side) and the triathletes are the furthest apart.
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Old 05-30-12, 02:53 PM   #21
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I do not mean this in any negitive way. It is true about everything, including my interests.
No offense taken, I completely understand your point. As I've been out there riding in groups on the track it's been pretty obvious that I have a lot of skill building to do (pacing, handling, etc.). I feel like a bit of clutz out there and feel bad for the people on my wheel, I'm not holding a great line yet. Also I see your point about race strategy. In Win and Out's I used to try going off the front rather than duke it out in the final 100 or so meters which is probably where I'd gain the most in terms of experience.
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Old 05-30-12, 02:59 PM   #22
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Generally speaking, nothing significant happens on the track under 100RPM. When a mass start race is rolling, the easy pace is 100RPM and attacks, breaks, bridges, sprints, etc... happen between 100-140RPM.
After checking out my Garmin files from my last track training ride (I promise I wasn't looking at the computer while riding) my cadence was topping out during faster efforts in the high 120's or low 130's and this was using a 48x15. It sounds like it might be wise to keep the 15 on rather than move down to a 14 until I can comfortably spin up to the 130's or low 140's.
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Old 05-30-12, 03:00 PM   #23
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Regarding the fast roadies leaving the other new racers, the director at our track (Jeff Hopkins) demands that the fast roadie guys stay in the pack at least until the final sprint so that they will learn pack skills that they may not have picked up on the road.
Sounds like a good policy...
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Old 05-30-12, 05:55 PM   #24
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The gears are relatively big. I would guess 94-98 gear inches.
Local racing will use lower gears and slightly lower cadences.
I'd suspect that there are few guys in gears larger than about 95", especially for a points race where there are a lot of accelerations.

Elite nats was one of the few places I'd pull out the 52 and 53 for, and that was to get ~94-95" gear. Guys I know who rode bigger gears than that tended to struggle on the accelerations. For reference, I managed to take a solo lap at elite nats in my scratch heat in a 94" gear, and I don't (and didn't) have the kind of spin that a lot of the fast kids do. I didn't really have any trouble staying in for the final in the same gear. A friend of mine who medaled in the same race was riding the same gear or an inch bigger. The kids I know who did well consistently were in the same or smaller gears. Normally for a local/regional mass start race I'd use a 92" gear because there's a lot more difference between the top speed and slowest speed, and the accelerations really get you in the big gears. At elite nats it starts out fast and gets faster, and never really slows down that much-- there's almost always an attack coming if it starts to slow at all, so you can roll a bigger gear. The twice-weekly open interval session at HDC ends with a motorpace race that basically shells all but the last 5 people or so most weeks and ends in the high 30s for the last 5 laps or so, and I've never ridden bigger than a 92" gear in that, and that's when I'm out of shape and want to cruise. If I'm in good shape and expect to stay in to the end I'm more likely to be in a 90.

One year at World Cup I sat next to a bunch of the kiwi team during the scratch race and asked about what kind of gearing Henderson would be riding. "90, maybe a 92". When the garmin guys came out one year to train before a world cup there was a special motorpace race session, and the speed pretty much started at ~30 mph and went from there. I think I was in a 92 and waited out the first lap that the fast guys took (in about 3 laps) figuring the second one would be slower. I got in for the next lap, which also took about 3 laps, and Magnus went on to take at least two more laps, including at least one solo. He was in a 92" gear and was just taking it easy-- I don't think he was breathing hard when he got off the track.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:57 PM   #25
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No offense taken, I completely understand your point. As I've been out there riding in groups on the track it's been pretty obvious that I have a lot of skill building to do (pacing, handling, etc.). I feel like a bit of clutz out there and feel bad for the people on my wheel, I'm not holding a great line yet. Also I see your point about race strategy. In Win and Out's I used to try going off the front rather than duke it out in the final 100 or so meters which is probably where I'd gain the most in terms of experience.
Just ride a lot-- you'll get better.

EDIT: btw: they shouldn't even be doing win and outs with riders less than Cat 3. 4s and 5s seem to have the idea that at the end of a sprint you whip up track. In a win and out there can be 20 people sprinting through the line behind you.
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