The foundations for successful riding
14 posts • Page 1 of 1
Been following these forums for the last couple years but first time poster. A quick little intro about me, I'm 25 years old from Bankstown in Sydney and part of Bankstown Sports Cycling Club. I've been on a road bike for the last 4 or 5 years or so but really only been consistently on the bike over the last two years. I get a lot of riding all around Sydney from the Akuna Bay area near my work, the M7 cycleway with the Bankstown crew, down south around the Royal National Park and occasionally in the Jamberoo area when I'm in training for the 3 Peaks. I have done a few sportive type rides in the past including the Sydney2Gong, 3 Peaks, and Blayney to Bathurst. However, I think it's time I entered the racing scene and was hoping you guys could give me some pointers so that I can ride that little bit faster!
In general I don't have too much trouble in the hills (it helps being 55 kg..) but really don't cut it when riding in flat terrain where I struggle to match the speeds of others. When taking a turn at the front or trying to ride in a breakaway I'm a no-hope. Rolling pacelines absolutely destroy me and I usually can't contribute very much, burning out really quick. I'm not sure if this is a general problem for smaller riders or if it's to do with road bike setup, or both.
Here's a link to my road bike position: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0KLZmg ... e=youtu.be
I quickly alternate through my positions from more relaxed to a little more aggressive. Does anyone have suggestions on what I can do in order to improve my position so that I can be more aerodynamic and get some "free" speed? My flexibility is pretty woeful and is something I need to work on. Apart from this though, I was thinking of getting a -17 degree stem to get me a little lower (no more spacers to remove)and raising and moving the saddle forward slightly to open up my hips. I don't feel very powerful when in the drops at the moment which I think might be due to my poor flexibility. I prefer to ride in the hoods if that is at all relevant.
If anyone has useful suggestions on helping me improve my speed and aerodynamics it would be greatly appreciated!
Hope to see you all on the road, say hi if you see me, should be pretty easy to spot!
Yoga, pilates, stretching.
At 53 yo my flexibility is garbage so no "free speed" there for me. On the flat/downhill races I do, I sit in the bunch or take very short turns and do my turns on the front on the longer uphill stetches.
There is no such thing as free speed, just work with what you have got and ride hilly races
Scott CR1, Kuota Kharma
It's not all about how low you can go. You need to balance your riding position between power output and aerodynamics. There's a 'sweet spot' that's different between bikes, riders and terrain that you need to learn how to chase. Don't worry about the drops too much. You can get pretty damned aero on the hoods. Plus when you're riding on someone's wheel your own aerodynamics don't matter as much.
Tactics wise, taking your turn on the front should be restricted as much as possible to uphill sections.
Thanks for the input guys!
I have had a bike fit done by Steve Hogg in the past and he was able to sort out many of my issues which were primarily comfort problems, this was back when I was only just getting into the swing of things.
I will definitely look into doing a lot more stretching so that I become more comfortable in a more aerodynamic position which I can still produce power in. I guess I need to review my race tactics as well so that I don't waste energy sitting at the front if I don't need to.
Looks like it will be a trial and error process to see what works best for racing.
If you can't handle the breakaways or rolling turns, you are on a hiding to nothing in the racing scene because the last option you have left is sprinting and at 55kgs, that's unlikely to be a strong suit. I wouldn't worry about aero too much, if you are on a road bike set up by Steve Hogg you are likely at the limits of what is sensible and achievable already. I would strongly suggest you consider some 4x10 intervals and VO2max 3x3x3s or similar, along with some weight training to allow you to cope with the high end efforts better. Realistically, you have to be able to leave the pack if you are no bunch sprinter, and there are no races in Sydney that regularly allow a strong specialist climber to shine. Even Akuna West Head requires some serious power to leave the pack and stay away on the downhills. I personally would love to see some races with hill finishes even though climbing isn't a strong point for me, but the nature of our roads doesn't make it easy.
Yes, getting in the drops helps, lower bars helps, but a properly fitted road bike tends to be quite aero. Stretching and engaging in some core stability etc etc etc will help.... but work on your engine. It won't take much to make serious gains at this stage.
(EDIT: I just watched your video. You see those arms? You see them? You want aero? Drop your elbows so they are 90 degrees to the ground... and therefore the air from the front. You can do this on the drops, you can do this on the hoods, and you can even grab the top of the hoods to do it. Try to avoid holding the tops of the hoods in bunches on the weekends or bad surfaces. I've had Steve fit me as well, and we're similar on the bike, but I get my arms MUCH further down to the ground when I'm on the front or trying to break away, and I accept the strain on the back. Steve puts you a lot closer to the bars than some alternative fits, which makes for comfort and efficiency - and hopefully you will be stronger and more functional, to compensate for lack of aero. You might only adopt this semi-TT position for 15 minutes of a race lasting 60, but it's worth a lot of wind resistance and that small change might be the difference between D grade and C grade. Or B grade.
Last edited by Xplora on Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
You appear to have a very climbing-suited physique (unlike myself), but could do with some strengthening of your muscle mass - legs / back / core - to improve your speed/strength for the quicker stuff. Fit won't make too much more of a difference, I would suggest.
Lastly, if all else fails, racing will strengthen you as a natural occurrence.
Neither. Your setup is fine, quite good actually. Put your seat up about 3-5mm.
Practise riding in the drops for a period of time every time you go riding. Riding on the hoods in a race is just terrible technique, you are catching a lot of wind in that position.
When rolling pacelines, do it in the drops. Your problem is simply a lack of power, it has nothing to do with your body size or shape. You will get stronger and faster the more you ride and race.
As I have said many times before on here, don't pigeon hole yourself based on your size and weight. If you race, you have to be able to climb, sprint, time trial and ride in groups. If you cant do all these things then you are in the wrong sport. If you were a tennis player you wouldnt play comp if you only had a forehand and couldnt serve, hit a smash or play a backhand. Ok the forehand may be your favourite weapon but you cant play without being good at everything. So quit the "Im a climber" thing because you are not. If you have a look at the top 10 in last weekends Baw Baw classic, I didn't see any 50 kg weaklings there. The guy that won just came off winning a 4 stage race which he won from swapping off in a small group and basically time-trialling solo for 15km.
Just keep riding and racing. 2 years is nothing in cycling, it will take more than that to start to see results. With experience comes improvement in all areas. Work on your weaknesses.
Good luck with everything
+1 on DD's comments.
If you are riding like that in a race on the hoods then you are doing loads of work for nothing, although you can probably relax quite happily on the hoods behind a big guy at your size .
Do lots of efforts in that position to get used to it... you can build up core strength etc on the bike, do some stretching a few times a week to lengthen everything out again.
I ride with plenty of guys your size who can handle it fine... the only thing they suffer in is the wind and cold ( pretty common here ). Personally getting in a break with a wippet sucks for me being built like a bus!.
Look for every bit of free speed you can... lower position, skin suit, aero helmet, deeper wheels, pinning on number properly etc etc ... and train to suffer.
Just bear in mind that you will enjoy the lighthearted encouragement of peers and competitors if you purchase these. I'm the only regular user of a skinsuit in Sydney outside track racing, I think I'll cause spontaneous combustion from laughter if I get the aero helmet
Having supportive riders is a lot cheaper than all of those things, because they will let you hide behind them in the wind
About 1 in 10 rides with a skinsuit here, about 1 in 20 with an aero helmet. I haven't put a skinsuit on yet this year and I don't have an aero road helmet. I haven't even glued up my 58/88's this year. But there is no doubt that they all work to some degree.
But to be honest non of those things is what is holding me back at the moment .
Your position looks fine - but use the drops more and be nice and low. I've had people grumble about following me because I'm tiny and don't give them much of a break compared to a big tall rider.
however - the rest is just lots of hard riding to build up power and strength.
You can do 5x5 or 4x10, whatever - lots of it needed.
Young DD wears a skinsuit or critsuit all the time, just because its more comfortable. Anyone who laughs on the start line usually isn't laughing at him at the finish.
Yeah that's one thing to love about it... it's a big show, but I struggle to believe that I would be as competitive without it. I tell everyone that if its worth 5 watts over the race, it's worth it because the effort to add 5w to your FTP is a lot more than spending a few bucks on a onesie
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