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  1. #1
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Protips for a new track racer

    I've taken the liberty to compile some good info I've run across while browsing these forums. If you think that some info should be added, post it up!

    Good Links

    How to wisely spend your hard earned cash

    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Every new racer sees all of the gear and whatnot and wonders what they should get. The fancy frames and wheels are the most obvious to new racers. Many think that is the key to being faster because all of the fast guys have them. That's not the case. The fast guys have them because at that level, they are winning and losing races by seconds and less than a second. New racers win and lose buy 10s of seconds (if not more). You can put a new racer on a $20,000 World-Class bike and they'll still get slaughtered and their flying 200M time will still be in the 15" range. I've seen this happen.

    For best results (in my humble opinion) spend money in this general order:

    - Track season pass (ride/race as much as possible)
    - Road Bike
    - *basic* equipment (chainrings, cogs, tools). Notice that I didn't say fancy carbon or aero gear. (See below)
    - Race entry fees (but this should be covered in the season pass)
    - Clinics
    - Skinsuit, aero helmet, booties
    - Diet for Athletes book. This will change your energy and fat levels.
    - Gym membership (if you plan to be a sprinter)
    - Coaching (optional really)
    - Travel to other tracks for regional type events to broaden your horizions
    - Aero front wheel
    - Fancy carbon/custom frame
    - Aero disc

    The returns diminish as you go down the list.
    Basic equipment
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Expect to change your gearing 2-5 times per training/race session.

    Centering it isn't an issue.

    You'll get to be fast with it in no time.

    Pro tips:

    1) Get knurled chainring bolts where the nut seats into the crank spider. Don't worry, it can be removed if you strip it out. This makes gear changes VERY fast.
    http://www.benscycle.net/index.php?m...roducts_id=628


    2) Get a set of quality ball-head metric allen wrenches. Trust me. TOTALLY worth the expense. I have a set that i've been using since 2009. Use the short end to torque/loosen and the long end to spin on/off. Using 3-way allen wrenches suck at this task.

    Only keep the wrenches that fit bolts on your rig with you. Store the rest at home in your tool box.
    http://www.sears.com/craftsman-13pc-...p-00946755000P



    3) Get a shop-quality lock ring remover and chain whip. You will be chaining cogs more often than mechanics at your local shop (seriously).
    I use Hozan pliers and a Park Tool chain whip (originally 3/32 that I modified with a 1/8" chain)



    4) At least TWO quality 15mm wrenches. One to keep in your gear bag and one for the trunk of your car (and leave it there) for when you load/unload your bike. They should be 15mm on BOTH the open and closed ends (not 14mm on one side and 15mm on the other).



    It's a pain in the butt to be dead tired from training and have to go digging deep in your gear bag for the 15mm to take your wheels off your bike.

    Get one where the closed end is flat (not angled) as possible. When you are applying torque to tighten rear wheels, if the angle is really sharp, it will jump off of some nuts that have narrow shoulders (like on Zipp 900 disks). I'd replace those with Dura Ace anyway. Just remember that front and rear nuts have different thread pitches.

    Not too long and not too short. My Craftsman is 7" long (heh heh heh). Shorter is not enough torque and longer is too much.

    5) OPTIONAL: Get a ratcheting 15mm wrench. This is helpful, too. I lost my favorite one.




    I've been using all of the tools listed above for 5 years or more. You'll use them your entire racing career...or until someone doesn't return something As a buddy who owns a high-end wood crafting shop told me when I borrowed something from him a second time during my rookie season, "If you have to borrow a tool more than once, you need your own."
    Regarding wheels as a beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Off-the-rack training wheels (the kind that come stock on complete bikes) are JUST FINE for training and beginner/intermediate racing. You can get a pre-built set for $200. They will last years. When you buy them the only thing you'll need to do is:


    - Replace the rim tape with cloth tape (2x$5)
    - Have a mechanic double check the spoke tension ($10 tip)
    - OPTIONAL: Buy Dura Ace nuts for front and rear ($30) (remember that front and rear have different thread pitches)


    No need for custom wheels. Seriously.


    Build a custom wheelset if you want to. But, that's like having custom blue jeans made when there are plenty of different styles of Levi's out there that you can pickup today for less than the custom set and just as good.
    Gearing advice
    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.
    Racing/Training tips
    Quote Originally Posted by kato7997 View Post
    • Get there early for registration and to get settled and prepped.
    • Don't stop pedaling when you cross the finish line!
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post

    As the saying goes, "You can't win 'em all." This is particularly true in track racing being that the events range from less than a minute to 20 minutes or more. Unless you are particularly talented, you won't do well in everything.

    In general, beginner racing is all about:
    - Learning bike handling in a pack at 80-100% effort (note that I didn't mention any speed)
    - Learning to draft.
    - Learning about your threshold and how to stay under it...and when to stragegically go above it.
    - Learning to think on the bike (Points, Scratch, Match Sprints)
    - Learning what talents you may have already (sprint, endurance, bike handling, thinking)
    - Learning where you have room for improvement. (Identifying these are a good thing)
    - Learning when and when not to attack.
    - Learning when and when not to chase an attack.
    - Learning about your opponents
    - Learning the "flow" of the race.
    - Learning where (and where not) to stick your nose in a pack.
    - Learning that touching a guy's shoulders at +35MPH is not a big deal.
    - Learning to feel when something is about to happen and feeling when something is happening behind you without even looking. Little things like the hearing the change in pitch (sound) of a guy's chain (reflecting off of the boards) letting you know that he's making a move to come around you.

    As I've mentioned in another thread, there are more ways to lose a race than there are to winning. Don't do any of the things that will cause you to lose and you'll find yourself in a position to win
    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    When learning to train and race at the track, one has to be comfortable and relaxed at higher speed close to the wheel in front. Track speeds tend to be higher so gaps result in a lot more power being required. Both of the training sessions will help you to get comfortable. So ideally, one should be able to ride in close quarters, relaxed looking ahead while using peripheral vision to position yourself in the pack. Great track racers anticipate actions by other racers and see them coming. The more you practice the better you get.

    Racing changes the pack dynamics and objectives. Tactics come into play to score in the various races and part of that is being at the right place at the right time.

    Once you are comfortable in the pack, riding close at speed and using peripheral vision then have at some cat 5 racing.
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    I'd like to add more tips:

    Sprinters and wanna-be sprinters (like myself) talk a lot about weightlifting, poundage, reps, etc...

    Don't get so caught up in lifting that you lose sight of the fact that it is about bike racing. I can out-squat guys that can run circles around me on the track.

    Lifting weights is just a tool to help prepare you to be strong and powerful on the track. Adding 50lbs/23kg to your 1 rep max may not be as beneficial as doing very solid sets of 5 reps.

    Also, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Squats aren't the only way to train to sprint. Don't be discouraged if you don't have access to a proper free-weight gym. Some sprinters don't squat. Some do leg press, plyometrics, hill repeats, ergo strength sessions, etc... Some don't lift weights at all.

    So for us local racers, it is most important that we do *something* because doing anything regularly is better than doing nothing.
    Last edited by Jaytron; 01-29-14 at 10:35 PM.
    PedalRoom

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  2. #2
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Senior Member kato7997's Avatar
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    • Get there early for registration and to get settled and prepped.
    • Don't stop pedaling when you cross the finish line!

  4. #4
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato7997 View Post
    • Get there early for registration and to get settled and prepped.
    • Don't stop pedaling when you cross the finish line!
    Added!
    PedalRoom

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  5. #5
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato7997 View Post
    • Get there early for registration and to get settled and prepped.
    • Don't stop pedaling when you cross the finish line!
    Yes!

  6. #6
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaytron View Post
    Gearing advice
    I'd disagree with Carlton on some of these, particularly in classifying gear size with skill level. Cat 1/2 points races can be won on 88 or 90 inches. Basically, bigger is not necessarily better - there are a lot of factors. Yes, smaller gears for less experienced or slower racers, but i'd hedge a bunch on implying that as one improves, one will ride bigger and bigger gears.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  7. #7
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Take the recommendations with a grain of salt and adapt to your needs. His priorities may not be your priorities. He definitely knows a lot about gear and technical detail, but that may not fit you if you are “’the just get on the bike and ride type”, or don’t aspire to the level of competition he is at, or even if you don’t have his muscle mass. It is good food for thought, but not something that blankly applies to everyone.

  8. #8
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    I'd disagree with Carlton on some of these, particularly in classifying gear size with skill level. Cat 1/2 points races can be won on 88 or 90 inches. Basically, bigger is not necessarily better - there are a lot of factors. Yes, smaller gears for less experienced or slower racers, but i'd hedge a bunch on implying that as one improves, one will ride bigger and bigger gears.
    It also depends on the track. Smaller gears for smaller tracks, bigger gears for bigger tracks.

    My gear suggestions aren't the end-all, be-all. They are suggestions for the new track racer.

    As the saying goes, your mileage may vary

  9. #9
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Rode my first session of a track cycling class at San Diego Velodrome. Had lots of fun.

    - Track season pass (ride/race as much as possible)
    - Road Bike


    Got this pretty well covered. I am using one of their "house bikes", a Bianci pista. Can't wait for the next session. Thinking of getting one of these, as this brand is sold by my favorite LBS, and wheel building guru. I'd like to build my own, with that guys help.

    http://www.masibikes.com/framesets/coltello

    OT

    there was a sticky for 2012 track bikes, and several of the links have broken already. How about updating it for 2013?
    Freedom is free. It's included in democracy. Democracy is hard. It involves dealing rationally with people you disagree with.

  10. #10
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Updated.

    If you more experienced guys think more should be added, let me know!
    PedalRoom

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  11. #11
    No matches Flatballer's Avatar
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    Can we sticky this please? Lots of good info in one place.
    It's a bike race, not a tea party. - GirlAnachronism

  12. #12
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatballer View Post
    Can we sticky this please? Lots of good info in one place.
    Done!

  13. #13
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Regarding the diets book, what do you guys recommend?
    PedalRoom

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  14. #14
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaytron View Post
    Regarding the diets book, what do you guys recommend?
    Keto works. But it is terribly inconvenient and somewhat expensive.

    I'm still trying to find the right program for me. It is elusive for sure.

  15. #15
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    My "aero wheels" are clinchers so I feel like I need to replace them. I have everything on the list except an aero helmet/booties. Do these help more than wheels would if I already have some 66mm clinchers (with fortezza's for high psi)?
    PedalRoom

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Great Gear Chart by Brian Ratliff:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...357-Gear-Chart

  17. #17
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Added to the original post!
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Velocirapture's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Keto works. But it is terribly inconvenient and somewhat expensive.

    I'm still trying to find the right program for me. It is elusive for sure.
    I'm not sure how widely available it is, but a great book is 'Eat Smart for Sport' by Paula Volschenk and Liesbet Delport (ISBN 9780624045014). What I particularly like about it is the scientific approach, as well as the focus on glyceamic index. (important for me as i'm hypoglyceamic).
    Its not full of fancy pictures or get thin quick tricks, but it is full of comprehensive charts and tables so you can work out just what you should be taking in, and how to figure it out.

  19. #19
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocirapture View Post
    I'm not sure how widely available it is, but a great book is 'Eat Smart for Sport' by Paula Volschenk and Liesbet Delport (ISBN 9780624045014). What I particularly like about it is the scientific approach, as well as the focus on glyceamic index. (important for me as i'm hypoglyceamic).
    Its not full of fancy pictures or get thin quick tricks, but it is full of comprehensive charts and tables so you can work out just what you should be taking in, and how to figure it out.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into getting that book.

  20. #20
    Junior Member ridingfixed's Avatar
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    I just bought a used fuji track 2.0 and love it, and I want to start racing, and I think the closest track is San Jose, Hellyer Park (I don't think I spelled that right),
    I'm in the Walnut Creek/Alamo/Danville/San Ramon Area, any closer tracks?
    Also I'm a little afraid of going down there, I don't want to screw anything up. Any tips

  21. #21
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridingfixed View Post
    I just bought a used fuji track 2.0 and love it, and I want to start racing, and I think the closest track is San Jose, Hellyer Park (I don't think I spelled that right),
    I'm in the Walnut Creek/Alamo/Danville/San Ramon Area, any closer tracks?
    Also I'm a little afraid of going down there, I don't want to screw anything up. Any tips
    Hi and welcome to the sport!

    DO NOT go on to the track before you attend a beginner's course. This goes for any track. Imagine if you bought a new sports car then took it to a local racetrack "for a few laps". There will be drama. Especially if there are other racers on the track. Some tracks have specific rules on the subject, others are more liberal.

    This goes for cyclists from other disciplines, too. Even guys who are highly experienced road/MTB/etc... racers have to go through an intro course to learn the etiquette. Basically, what to do, what not to do, what to expect, and what you are expected to do.

    Find the website (sorry I don't know the URL) and poke around for a "beginners" or "intro to the track" course. Every track has them. Also, find out when people train and go to the track and just watch and ask questions. We were all track newbies at one time. A majority of the participants start racing track as adults.

    If you can't find info, start a new thread and ask your questions there. I'm not in the Bay Area so I'm not familiar with the details.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Check out ridethetrack.com. Beginner sessions are most Saturdays, and rental bikes are available. I think you'll find the crew at Hellyer to be friendly and encouraging, and as Carleton said, welcome to the sport!

    http://www.ridethetrack.com

  23. #23
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I'd like to add more tips:

    Sprinters and wanna-be sprinters (like myself) talk a lot about weightlifting, poundage, reps, etc...

    Don't get so caught up in lifting that you lose sight of the fact that it is about bike racing. I can out-squat guys that can run circles around me on the track.

    Lifting weights is just a tool to help prepare you to be strong and powerful on the track. Adding 50lbs/23kg to your 1 rep max may not be as beneficial as doing very solid sets of 5 reps.

    Also, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Squats aren't the only way to train to sprint. Don't be discouraged if you don't have access to a proper free-weight gym. Some sprinters don't squat. Some do leg press, plyometrics, hill repeats, ergo strength sessions, etc... Some don't lift weights at all.

    So for us local racers, it is most important that we do *something* because doing anything regularly is better than doing nothing.

  24. #24
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    I'd like to add more tips:

    Sprinters and wanna-be sprinters (like myself) talk a lot about weightlifting, poundage, reps, etc...

    Don't get so caught up in lifting that you lose sight of the fact that it is about bike racing. I can out-squat guys that can run circles around me on the track.

    Lifting weights is just a tool to help prepare you to be strong and powerful on the track. Adding 50lbs/23kg to your 1 rep max may not be as beneficial as doing very solid sets of 5 reps.

    Also, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Squats aren't the only way to train to sprint. Don't be discouraged if you don't have access to a proper free-weight gym. Some sprinters don't squat. Some do leg press, plyometrics, hill repeats, ergo strength sessions, etc... Some don't lift weights at all.

    So for us local racers, it is most important that we do *something* because doing anything regularly is better than doing nothing.
    Well said, Carleton.

    My coach has told me the same, because I get really frustrated at the gym. I'm fairly new to gym, so even the girls are all out-squatting me. fml.
    PedalRoom

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I'd like to bump this thread and add more info:

    But there were gaps that I'd like to touch upon and ask for help from others on the topics. So, here goes:

    Pedals:

    Pedals are very important on the track. They are not only tied to your acceleration, but your braking.

    If you have quality road (not MTB) pedals on your road bike (like LOOK, Shimano SPD-SL, Speedplay Zero) then they should be fine.

    If you don't, you will need to buy some as most entry level track bikes do not come with pedals. Some that I recommend are the Shimano R540 (approximately 40USD). You can go up from there if you like.

    Be weary of buying really, really old used pedals that may have worn out retention systems.

    MTB/CX pedals are desinged for rapid entry and exit as the rider is on/off the bike frequently during a ride. They are also designed to shed mud. These are not features that you will take advantage of on the track. Plus, if you pull out of your pedal, you will have to pedal one-legged till you slow down enough to get the foot back on.

    Shoes:

    Cycling shoes are like running or basketball shoes, if you want, you can spend $300/pair. But, an $80 will perform just as well.

    If you don't know your size, go to a shop and try them on. For years, I rode size 47 shoes when I was actually a size 46...that's because I'm an idiot.

    Clothing:

    Cycling Kits are EXPENSIVE. You do not need to buy a $100 pair of shorts and a $100 jersey in order to ride. Just buy some quality shorts and mate it with a snug-fitting or compression dri-fit type Nike or Under Armor shirt. Those are around $25 and can be easily found. You don't need jersey pockets because carrying things in your pocket on the track shouldn't be allowed any way. Plus, you are never more than a few yards from your gear bag in the infield.

    Buy the shorts with suspenders. They keep the shorts from sliding down. Trust me, you'll want these over the other type. Stay away from gel padding. To me these feel like a soggy diaper.

    Skinsuits work, but are also expensive. Cycling Shorts + Nike/UnderArmor compression top is a "Poor Man's Skinsuit"...and much easier to get in and out of

    Cycling socks are pricey. Running socks are not. They are pretty much the same thing. I've even used long soccer socks (long to allow for shin guards to be inserted) as my legwarmers

    Helmets

    A basic road helmet is fine. They are around 60USD. For the track, a skate/bmx helmet (30USD) is also fine and it weighs the same as a road helmet, it's just not as ventilated. But, track events are short, so you won't have it on for hours, only minutes.


    Anybody got anything else?

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