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  1. #1
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    Road sprint vs Track Sprint

    So I am a sprinter on the road and an enduro on the track, but really more of a jack of all trades on the track. On the road, 100% sprinter, no hills, nothing too hard and if I get a good position at the end I am good to go for a nice top speed long sprint that would likely equate to something in the mid 11 second region for a 200m.

    I understand I get a lead out on the road and it is straight, but I am also using clinchers on a shallow spoked wheel with a big open helmet and flapping jersey at the end of a 60+ minute race while jockeying for position the last mile with lots of power spikes.

    However on the track I find that I am often behind the ball on the 200 meter speeds, but if I am sprinting well can make up for it and cause some damage in the rounds to a point. Same with Keirins. My top 200m time ever was a 12.3 during qualifying and 12.2 is the fastest time I have noted during rounds, although I typically qualify slower than that.

    I am pretty sure the primary issue is that I sprint in a 53/11 or sometimes a 12 on the road at 100ish RPM and I sprint in a 50/15 to 52/15 on the track and I lack leg speed. My question is two fold.

    1) Does anyone else here have a similar issue or the opposite problem?

    2) Does it seem that if I can get my leg speed up I should be able to turn a better 200m time and compete with the top guys in the track sprints like I do on the road ... or is it just roadies are roadies and I should leave the pure track sprinters alone.

    To me my raw 20 sec power numbers should be fine, at least they are on the road, it is just leg speed I need to find.

    Thoughts?

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    Its a different animal , sure, but you can still race at the elite level at a smaller (road friendly) size -- Michael Blatchford was a normal sized guy , -- most famously , Theo Bos , -- many many other examples ---- J'Me Carney is another one who was not built like a linebacker who also had a devastating sprint

    I'm sure it is a legspeed issue ---- i recall trainer workouts years ago hitting 150 rpm thinking i was going to die and seeing other guys hitting 160 with rock solid upper bodies and no movement ---

    " Old school" track sprinting occured in a 49x14 many times -- i dont know how that compares to a 52-15 , but sounds pretty close --- guys' are using bigger gears now , sure, but there were plenty of fellows deep into the 10's on gearing like that years ago
    12.2 or 12.3 is not a bad 200 for most people (i might get flamed for that a little) -- but most track programs have far more racing opportunities for madisons, points races and miss-n outs than a match sprint meet (which could take all damn night) --- point is - same as the road, strategy , pack placement and energy conversation plays more a part than 200m time , which is really just your ticket in for seeding anyway ---- 200 meter times are like a "how much do you bench" conversation (within reason ---- but you know if you cant bench 200 lbs, ya aint getting drafted unless your a kicker)

  3. #3
    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Leg speed is a concern.

    I have the opposite problem because my background is being a fixie kid. I was used to running smaller gears and spinning a bunch. My strength is my limiting factor, but my leg speed seems to be slightly above average.

    Personally I find it very hard to attack/respond to attacks with a huge gear when doing match sprints. Hit the rollers here and there to work on your leg speed. Keep the upper body still and your core tight. Flying 100's in a small gear will also help a bunch with your leg speed.

    Will better leg speed automatically mean a better 200m? I don't think the answer is that simple, unfortunately. I'm leaner/skinnier than most sprinters. Also most of the local sprinters are just straight up stronger than me when it comes to gym numbers. I still qualify very high and race fairly well. Hope this helps
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    I am not concerned about the exact 200m time, so much as in my estimation my road sprint is a full second faster than my track sprint based on my best analysis. On the road I do very well, on the track I am very inconsistent ... and last year was no where near the top the sprinters.

    My hope is that it is "just" leg speed and I have been working on it, but the local sprinters are just flying now. Guys I could beat 10 years ago now smoke me. I understand there will always be younger and faster guys, but I am hoping to keep up with the 40+ crowd this year.

    52-15 is nearly the same as a 49-14 ... I use both depending on chain length. And I hate the flying 100 in a small gear or anything at high RPM workout ... but I know that is what I need to do. I keep fighting myself with work on your weakness vs focus on your strength and need to get over my dislike of high RPM workouts.

    or maybe I just need to pop the 53-13 on my track bike and see if that gets me there no extra work needed.

  5. #5
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I don't think you should compare road sprinting to track sprinting. Yes, they use the same word, but they are very different. A sprint after a 45 minute crit is MUCH different than a match sprint over 750-1000M from a slow-ish first 400M.

    Look at road sprinters of any level. When they race track sprinters of their same level (local, regional, national, international) it's the same story. They get dusted. Same would happen if a track sprinter jumped into a road crit of his/her same level. He'd be dropped long before the final sprint.

    Road gearing is different than track gearing. It's not comparing apples to oranges but more like comparing apples to pears.

    Generally speaking, Leg speed is a function of muscle fiber type. Basically, how fast can your body make them contract with sizable amount of force and recover and do it again...measured in milliseconds. If you got it, you got it. If you don't, well... that's like me asking for fatigue resistant muscles. Anecdotally, when I first started racing...like my first month I had 130-140rpm legspeed on the track using beginner gears. I was very fat and very untrained...but I had natural leg speed. But, try as I might, I still get dropped in long track races. I remember the first time I finished a 20 lap points race on the lead lap. I shed a tear...

    I've always leg speed, ever since I was a kid. I could always beat my track-star cousin racing down the street...but he'd leave me puking on long runs. He was a middle-distance specialist that medaled at the HS state level.

    I think you can fine-tune what you have. If you have a big engine (lungs), big legs (strength), and a small frame, then maybe look to using bigger gears.

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    11s 200m is 65kmh. Are you saying you are able to get up to 65kmh on your own (so the 100m or so leading up is solo), then hold that speed for the last 200m completely solo? Thats some pretty insane speeds for the end of a road race and doubt its that fast. I glanced at some of my finish data which Im usually catching people and it looks like 50s is more realistic (granted they often start much earlier than 200m)

    I'm sure you are not as comfortable at high cadence, Im the same and so is every roadie. I get yelled at during drills all the time for running to big of a gear, because I like to go fast and hate spinning like a mad man But to lose 6-8km/h at that speed is a lot of power difference.

    according to
    Flying 200

    I just ran random numbers, but a 11.5 vs 12.5 is a solid 200w difference. Speed is just power - resistance (which is less at the track). To really prove it to yourself, go out and do back-to-back runs and change gear each time, I bet your times barely change, maybe .1-.2

    All Im saying is your perspective might be off, and I bet you are just as fast as the track. Ever since racing track I no longer consider any roadie a 'sprinter' anymore.

  7. #7
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    I understand your situation. I'm also a track enduro, and I have a decent road sprint - although it's a speed sprint, not a power sprint, which means that if there's a slow leadout I get blown out of the water. A nice long fast lead-out, I can get myself into position, hold it, and launch a good sprint. I do have sort of an opposite problem - in a hard track race, I always have one more sprint left. But I've had some road races and hell, even crits where, despite staying well-sheltered and getting myself into good position, man, I just can't muster up a sprint. Could be due to early season business.

    Leg speed; you're an oldhead, right? You've probably heard this - it's often repeated that for the most part, a person will hit similar 200m times regardless of the gear they're in. Legspeed may help you but I don't know if it's the big issue here.

    I think for your difference, you can't discount the effect of a good leadout! Sure, you're fresher for a flying 200, but you have to get yourself up to drop-off speed. I know that when I'm in good position in a fast lead-out, sometimes I'm so well-sheltered that I'm coasting at well over 55kph.

    But, you can test it: do some flying 200s behind a moto (or, hell, just with a training partner who will drop you off at the bell) and see if you get times closer to what you'd expect on the road.
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  8. #8
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    I prefer not to debate specific speeds as that will derail the thread, so lets just say there is a 1 sec difference between my road 200m and my track 200m. Seems odd to me. Track 200m is setup for speed with nice wheels, high pressure and no race in your way for the previous hour. Road has the advantage of a leadout to get you part way there, but the final jump is still the same. The surface for my road sprint is the same as my track sprint, both pretty nice. I figure the jostle of the last 1 mile in big part makes up for the leadout aspect, but maybe I am wrong. My final jump from my leadout almost always nets me an additional 5 MPH, more if it is slow, and I can hold that top speed for around 15 seconds, 20 seconds on a really good day, 10 seconds on a bad day. This is pretty consistent on long jumps on the road and in training.

    So other than leg speed is there much else I should think about? I understand the velodrome, especially at Alpenrose takes a huge hit out of your 200 meter when you slam into corner 3. so at most it should be 1/2 second. I have been doing sprints on the road and the track for 25 years, so I have lots of runs and experience with my body at these two different events and just want to bring more of my road speed to the track.

    Any other thoughts about converting road speed to track? From what I have read, cadence doesn't make that big of a difference for just a 200 meter. I should be able to put out the same power on the track and road, but I don't think I am.

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    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Hmmm.

    Do I recall seeing pictures of you tracksprinting out of the saddle, pretty far over your handlebars? Or am I misremembering?

    I wonder if that position takes away from pedaling on a fixed gear, though it may add to pedaling on a roadbike.

    How does your fit compare between your road and track bike?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Our track is very slow. 12.5 will easily net sub 12 on a better track (our track record, set by Mr. Mansker, is still not sub 11). PIR (Portland's weekly Tuesday worlds) has a very smooth surface and remember that one direction the finish is consistently down wind, plus that huge lead out coming from 50+ person fields.

    And then there is the gearing issue on top of that. If trackies could change gears during their windup and sprint, they'd do it and go faster because of it. The leg speed issue compounds this as well. But I am certain that every track sprinter at every level can reach higher speeds in a sprint on a road bike than on a track bike.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    ...

    Leg speed; you're an oldhead, right? You've probably heard this - it's often repeated that for the most part, a person will hit similar 200m times regardless of the gear they're in. Legspeed may help you but I don't know if it's the big issue here.

    ...
    When trackies talk about gearing, they are talking about the difference of 4 or 6 gear inches. When you launch a road sprint in a 53/14 and finish in a 53/11, that's a difference of almost 30 gear inches. Different world.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    When trackies talk about gearing, they are talking about the difference of 4 or 6 gear inches. When you launch a road sprint in a 53/14 and finish in a 53/11, that's a difference of almost 30 gear inches. Different world.
    That is what I am wondering. I launch my road sprint in my 53/11 90% of the time as I don't like to shift, my last shift will be when I get on the final leadout typically at least 500 meters before the line. I target around 80 RPM at 500 meters out, but usually just slam it as far as it goes and hope. I don't mind being bogged down, and then I ramp it up to 100rpm or whatever I get to. The gear differential is huge between my road and track sprint.

    All I know is that I can sprint with the top roadies when on form, but I could never sprint with the true top trackies, but I have equal experience with both. And now the top masters are riding times that are really fast and the guys I could play with 10 years ago seem at another level on the track, but I have been finding my road sprint this year.

    I just did a fit review on my bikes and they were different, but they are both new bikes and last years bikes are disassembled. I have made them closer to the same as I think that was part of it, at least this year so far. I like the over the bar sprint, that is where I feel I can generate the most power with my legs. I think that is actually the 2nd part of the issue, I can't stand at full speed on the track around the corners. Partly the corner, but also I have such a high RPM by that point it makes no sense to be standing. On the road I stand until the final bike throw.

    So does standing on the pedals for 20 seconds during top speed make a big difference in power? My current track power numbers are much lower than my road numbers, but most of my track time is seated, most of my road time is standing when I am on the power. Does anyone stay out of the saddle past ramp up on the track? Funny that the road is opposite, sit until 20+ seconds left then stand, on the track I am standing then for the final 10 seconds I am sitting.

    I am thinking this all goes back to the same issue I have had since day one ... cadence. At 80/90 RPM I can generate a lot more power out of the saddle on the road, I am small and very aero out of the saddle so I am not pushing that much more air. Once I get over 100 RPM my seated power numbers drop as does my muscular endurance, but my position doesn't change as much as others so I am not getting the same power to air ratio any longer.

    That means both more low power RPM work as well as more high power RPM work. That is hard work ... maybe I should stay an enduro, track sprinting is not going to be easy this year.

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    What size track is this btw? On our 138m track its so tight I dont even bother trying to compare speeds, the energy it takes to change direction 180degrees in such a short time must be massive. Even on a 250 there must be a certain amount of energy lost, which just goes up with speed. So perhaps the nice wheels/tires are countered by the G-forces in the turn?

    Standing power is always going to be higher, no one is every going to do a 'sitting' start. The problem is it loses efficiency at high cadence, and at the track you need to balance a smaller gear to get going. Im still standing on the back straight going into the final turn before the flying lap and that is where my highest numbers are, then they dip as I come down the banking. So if they are opposite on the road its because you started at 40-50kmh for "free" and still have that sprint left to use up.

    as a side note, even on track, my PB fastest lap was in a race. So like a leadout flying lap, similar to in a road race, I was a couple tenths faster than I had been before (or since)

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    And just to reiterate, being a strong sprinter in a field of weight weenies on the road is one thing, a lot those guys almost never practice their sprint outside of a race. Bring it to the track, where that is ALL some of those guys do, the ones who need stronger chains because they are half gorilla, who spend more time in the gym than on a bike, you are up against a different breed.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gtrob View Post
    What size track is this btw? ...
    Alpenrose is cigar shaped rather than oval. This means the track is 266m-ish (1/6 mile), but with constant radius turns more suited to a 200m track, and long straights. The constant radius turns are what hurts the big guys; you go from zero radial acceleration to max in the span of a bike length. I did the calculation once: at 38mph, you are hitting 2g. We ride tires at 150+psi not for rolling resistance but just to keep the bike handling from going all squirrely through the turn. A 200lb sprinter is going to be loading his wheels with 400lbs at sprint speeds.

    Alpenrose:


    vs. standard track:


    Note the difference in shape... the oval track goes from zero radial acceleration gradually increasing to maximum in the center of the turn on an oval trajectory with a constant changing radius. This is vs. Alpenrose where you are going straight and then slammed into the constant radius turn. There has been talk for years of remaking Alpenrose into something closer to an oval and shortening the track to 250m.

    alpenrose track.jpg nationals track.jpg
    Last edited by Brian Ratliff; 05-08-14 at 10:56 AM.
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  16. #16
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    I agree with those that are implying it might not be that useful to compare 200m times from the end of a road even to a 200m TT on the track. The contexts are just too different. However, it does seem you've identified two things to work on: Leg speed and seated power.

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    Alpenrose is tight, tighter than most 250s, and races more like a 200m, maybe a touch faster than Burnaby. So I understand the tight turn costing me time as well as the leadout causing differences, along with wind, etc. It is more about the competition and how I fair against them along with my general sniff test telling me something is different/wrong. Something is missing from my skill/fitness that creates a loss of power in comparison to peers when moving from road to track. We have plenty of fast sprinters on the road as well as track here in Portland, and my variation in speed is not a recent trend, it was the same when I raced 10 to 25 years as well. Back then I would say our local roadies were better than average as compared to our local track scene. Now I would say it has switched a bit with our track scene being better than average as compared nationally.

    As I have been posting here and reading others posts, I am thinking it is that most of my workouts focus on standing 80-100RPM efforts vs seated 100-140RPM efforts. So it would make sense that I am good at 80-100RPM standing accelerations and not as good at seated 100-140 RPM accelerations. I am sure 140 is the wrong number, just throwing that out there as a number, not sure what I should target at the top end of a track RPM workout - because I cheat those and tend to do most of my work on the road. As Carleton said it might just be partly genetic as well, maybe my muscle fibers just don't like that 110+RPM effort, I know that my fatigue sets in quick when I top 110 RPM.

    That said, my program is in flux and I am trying to figure out how to best tweak my year to improve my track sprint, and seated high RPM work is likely the key. Will likely improve my track endurance as well.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Lower your gears to an 88" and chase cars at 150+rpm?

    Since I've started on a strength program this year, I've noticed that my speed at rpm has improved. Thinking about it, it makes sense: even if you have the neuromuscular coordination to spin 150+ rpm, if you don't have the strength, there is no way you can keep the torque low enough (as a percentage of your max) to absorb the pedal reps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    We ride tires at 150+psi not for rolling resistance but just to keep the bike handling from going all squirrely through the turn. A 200lb sprinter is going to be loading his wheels with 400lbs at sprint speeds.

    I might need to work on this as well. I always use to race at 125-130, then all that low pressure talk came out and I went down to 120 and that seemed worse to me. Then I hear people talk about high pressures on the track, but more indoor and I moved up to 130-140 last year. Maybe I need to go higher still. I do not feel comfortable on our track in corner 3/4 during full speed efforts. I try to just let my bike float around the corner and not control it, but it feels loose to me. Maybe it is time to try out the 150+ pressures.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Quinn8it's Avatar
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    I've got some power files of recent Crit finishes where the last 200m were 38.5mph average, top speed 39+

    and I have power files of low 11" 200m on the track

    Peak power and 25" power on the Crit finishes is nowhere near the level of a Track 200m..

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    jmikami,

    On the road where you use multiple gears to optimize your torque and your cadence as you shift through them to increase speed all while riding on flat-ish terrain.

    On the track, you use a single gear. You only live in the optimal torque/cadence range for that single gear for a couple of seconds. You trudge under the gear for a while, then hit the sweet spot, then you rev-out and hang on ALL while fighting tough turns. That is not optimal.

    That is EXACTLY like having the same driver in the same car shift through all 6 gears in its gearbox while driving on a flat road for a time trial. Then having the same driver use only 3rd gear to get up to speed then rev-out all while on a curvy road. The times will not be the same.

    To look at it another way, a more simple way: Mark Cavendish can ride 75 - 80KPH on the road. If he could do that on the track, his flying 200M time would be 9.6s to 9.0s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmikami View Post
    then all that low pressure talk came out and I went down to 120
    Can you point me to any of this? I've only studies (and anecdotes) with respect to road surfaces, not any regarding the smooth surfaces of most tracks.

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanceMac View Post
    Can you point me to any of this? I've only studies (and anecdotes) with respect to road surfaces, not any regarding the smooth surfaces of most tracks.
    +1

    99.99% of the rolling resistance studies are for the road TT crowd. Those guys ride on the middle of their tires.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
    I've got some power files of recent Crit finishes where the last 200m were 38.5mph average, top speed 39+
    and I have power files of low 11" 200m on the track

    Peak power and 25" power on the Crit finishes is nowhere near the level of a Track 200m..
    I get more power in the final 25" of a road sprint than I do from a 200m on the track - sucks for me. If I understand you are the opposite, and are getting more power on the track. This is what I want to achieve. I just can't get that same 25 second power on the track.

    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    jmikami,

    On the road where you use multiple gears to optimize your torque and your cadence as you shift through them to increase speed all while riding on flat-ish terrain.

    On the track, you use a single gear. You only live in the optimal torque/cadence range for that single gear for a couple of seconds. You trudge under the gear for a while, then hit the sweet spot, then you rev-out and hang on ALL while fighting tough turns. That is not optimal.
    I race my final 500 meters on the road in one gear, it is just huge. Last race I shifted into my 11 at around 500-600 meters to go, so it is not the shifting, but more the massive gear difference. I understand the getting it up to speed part, it is more the why can't I produce the same power at 90 and 120 RPM. The 120 RPM has a better power multiplier, but as I crest 105/110 RPM my power dips instead of increases. I want to work on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by VanceMac View Post
    Can you point me to any of this? I've only studies (and anecdotes) with respect to road surfaces, not any regarding the smooth surfaces of most tracks.
    I was speaking of road studies - just figured since I have a rough track maybe it would be good to try it ... it didn't work IMO.

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