Max speed and trouble sprinting

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Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby AndrewBurns » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:28 pm

Hey all, I've got a few questions about max speed and problems with my sprinting.

Some background, I'm 25, riding for about a year now, ~65kg and 170cm, pretty much only race crits at Heffron park to date but to be honest I think hills suit me a lot more. I don't specifically train for anything and generally commuting to and from work once or twice a week is the best I can manage. I'm not a very dedicated cyclist and after crashing early this year I'm a lot more cautious in my racing than I used to be (lets face it, I'm never going to be paid to race so I'm not treating it as anything more than some fun competition and good exercise).

Heffron as most know is a flat, tight criterium course. I race C-grade both Saturdays and Tuesdays, my best result was 2nd on a Saturday with fewer riders than normal but to be honest I'm normally between 5th and 10th and I'm lucky to be in the top 20 on a Tuesday but I can hang on without too much difficulty. I raced there yesterday and did fairly well most of the race until I was swamped by about half the field at the start of the bell lap and was too gun-shy to pass them before the final straight, I turned the last corner about 20th and made my way up to maybe 8th by the line.

Every time I've raced there I've come around the last corner winding up to about 50 kph, I can hold between 54 and 55 kph in the saddle and in the wind at about 120-125 rpm for the length of the main straight but I simply can't manage to go any faster than that. What's worse is that I can't seem to get out of the saddle for a sprint at the end, it's all I can do to keep the power down at that cadence and there's no way I have the strength to jump out of the saddle and I think if I tried all I'd lose is time changing gears.

I can sprint out of the saddle at any other time but when I do it by myself I tend to start at lower speeds and then I can only really wind it up to ~45kph before I have to sit back down, the problem is that I'm already going faster than that when I hit the home straight. It's kinda hard to practice sprinting at these higher speeds by myself because even to get up to 50 kph on my own is pretty hard and there aren't that many places that I can do it safely and I haven't got many runs at that speed in me. Does anybody have any tips about how to increase my top-line speed or anything I should try to give me the ability to burst out of the saddle when I'm dog-tired and already traveling at my limit speed? I think I already have enough speed to win or place if I get the right positioning out of the last corner but I'm really not comfortable being aggressive enough and taking the risks I'd have to to secure that kind of placing and I've never had anyone else from my club with me in that race to help me out.

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Re: Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby vander » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:28 pm

First of all you need to work on your positioning as you know. If you come into the last lap up near the front you should be fine to hold it on a course like that. If you know the rush is coming preempt it go to the front even (I often go to the front in the last few kms to assure myself I will start from near the front) if you have to power to do so. As for heffron, near the end there coming out of that corner is downhill, going into the last corner you need to be in a good spot, after that its too late. You should be overgeared there IMO as you know you will pick up speed on the downhill. In you training work on changing gears in the sprint though its not the best you can do it, I would probably atleast change up 2 gears from that corner to my sprint, its about finding the time, IME there is always a lull before the sprint where you can do some quick changes. You should make sure you start your sprint in the right gear.

In your training I would also practice starting sprints from a bigger gear using more power to get it going and starting in a smaller gear and spinning during sprints, to make sure you are versatile, if you want to be able to spin during sprints try track and you will learn fast. I know personally on my own I can get up to about 60km/h on a flat course with no wind so I know that most people wont beat me in a flat out drag race, so I use that to my advantage, in small bunches I will lead it into a sprint and slow it down to about 30km/h then jump from a fair way out, most the time I jump first and I am yet to be beaten like this. In big bunches its a bit more difficult as you need to right positioning, on your own it can be almost impossible. If you have ridden their lots you should have an idea of the wheels to sit on, what I do is find those wheels and sit on them like glue then hopefully they take me to a good spot. Find the wheel with 3 laps to go if need be then don't budge from it.

Sprinting is a lot more tactical then physical if you start from anymore than about 6th wheel back your chances of winning will be negligible, so a lot is about positioning any further back then 10th wheel dont bother (even closer most the time) as you are more likely to cause a crash then feature in the placings.

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Re: Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby foo on patrol » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:22 pm

There is always ways to practice sprints. Taking off from lights, in between power poles, road marker posts and so it goes on. You don't need long stretches of road, you just need short sharp bursts from slow and normal pace. :wink:

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Re: Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby turbus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:02 pm

i like to practice my top end sprinting by descending a hill to simulate the speed of a bunch. Then when it flattens out grab a couple of gears jump and hold the sprint for a couple of hundred meters (or as long as you can)

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Re: Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby thearthurdog » Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:39 pm

Try sprinting in a bigger gear. Instead of sitting down and spinning get out of the seat and smash it.
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Re: Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby Xplora » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:12 am

Get out onto the M4 mate... lots of wide open spaces to practice your sprints :D

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Re: Max speed and trouble sprinting

Postby twizzle » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:04 pm

AndrewBurns wrote:Every time I've raced there I've come around the last corner winding up to about 50 kph, I can hold between 54 and 55 kph in the saddle and in the wind at about 120-125 rpm for the length of the main straight but I simply can't manage to go any faster than that.

So, given what you have said here, you are not a sprinter, you are a slow-twitch dominant endurance rider. There is nothing you can do about this. A sprinter would have hit 160rpm and then fallen off the bike with lactic acid. Us slow-twitch people wind up and stay there... and then get pipped at the post by the guy who sat on our wheel in the draft. I stopped winning crits back when I was in Vets D grade, I've just moved up to A grade, the only time I won C or B was when I rode off the front.
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