Bunch of questions!

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by DVNDSN, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. DVNDSN

    DVNDSN New Member

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    I am a new cyclist in regards to my level of competition, but I have been riding for 4 years now. I bought a walmart road bike (33 lbs) for $150 and started riding on it. This past Wednesday, I bought a 2010 Trek 1.5. I did my research, and went in knowing what I wanted, and came out with it. I am extremely pleased. I put clip-ins on it, SPD-SL's with R087 shoes. I really like the Tiagra setup, but am wanting to change a few things on the bike itself in regards to the brakes, cassette, and crank.

    On to the questions: In regards to sprinting with clip-ins, do you stand up and pull up on the pedals while pushing down with the other foot, or what? How exactly do you get up to sprinting speed the fastest? Where should my hands be as well? Towards the middle of the handlebars, out on the rubber grips with the brakes, or on the drops (surely not those but it's worth asking).

    I am a little confused on my stance as well. While cruising at say, 15 mph, where should my hands be? I want to keep them on the rubber grips with the brakes, but then somehow I just move them up to the tops of the handlebars next to the stem.

    As far as climbing hills go, I try to remain on the seat in a low-ish gear, and keep calm. Is that the best way to handle climbing?

    I know this isn't the training forum, but most of my quesitions are about the bike itself, this one is in regards to training... What is the best way to increase my average speed? Doing suicides on the bike, changing my diet, or what? The single, most best way to help me out?

    Do aerobars really help when you are doing rolling hills some, and a couple downhills on a 20 mile ride?

    Gear ratios. Those two words almost scare me! I was horrible with fractions and ratios in 4th grade all the way through high school. I haven't had but one math class in college, so I am completely lost when someone says anything about them. My Trek has a FSA Vero crank at 50/39/30, and a SRAM PG-950 11-26, 9 speed cassette. Can someone give me a quick overview of what the 50/39/30 means, and what the PG-950 11-26 means? My understanding is that the 50/39/30 is how many teeth the crank has on the 3 rings, but beyond that I know absolutely nothing! Please help!

    Thank you so much for helping me with my questions! If you can only answer one out of all of them, that is greatly appreciated! I just joined cycling forums yesterday, so I really am just trying to get some questions answered and stay in the loop on things.
    Thanks so much again!
     
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  2. Randy Bosma

    Randy Bosma New Member

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    Comments / replies inline and in color below:
    Also, it sounds like you want to get serious about cycling. So, I suggest that you look for the book Serious Cycling by Edmund R. Burke (2nd edition 2002). Used copies on Amazon for under a buck (plus shipping).

    Enjoy!
     
  3. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Sprinting is a learned technique, it's not as simple as simply pulling up with your feet or even just pounding hard with the pedals. It starts with a good body position, a tensed and ready upper body with firm yet flexed arms, out of the saddle but butt low not standing tall like you might while climbing, good gear choices for the terrain and speed (most people OVER gear sprints and would do well to sprint in lower gears relying on leg speed not brute force). For a race winning sprint hands should definitely be down in deep in the drops both for a very solid and strong grip and perhaps more importantly for aerodynamics and weight distribution during full bore sprinting. Start by practicing seated low gear leg speed sprints to get used to winding out your legs at high speeds, without that you'll never go fast in a sprint. Then work into full out of the saddle sprinting starting in reasonable and relatively low gears. Find downhills that dump out onto safe flat roads so you can get up to speed with minimal effort on the descent and then sprint from near race speeds on the flats, try some uphill sprints and some longer sprints working on winding out all the way to your mock finish line. The speed will come with practice and exactly what you do with your feet on the pedals won't be something you're thinking about as you hit max sprint speeds. Remember to explode into each sprint and rest well between efforts so you can give 100% each time don't practice mediocre sprinting because you try to do them without sufficient recovery between each effort or try to ramp into a sprint. Those first few pedal strokes are everything in a sprint and then it's a matter of winding it out to the line at high speeds.


    Yeah for cruising around at modest speeds the brake hoods are a good place to start. But move your hands around while you ride so that they don't go to sleep and you don't pinch nerves by using the same hand positions all the time. Try hands in close to the stem on the bar tops when you're on climbs or open roads where you don't need to be so close to your brakes. Try variations around the brake hoods, try the drops especially when going faster or pushing into a stout headwind where aerodynamics can help you. Remember to keep your elbows relaxed and slightly bent so you can absorb small road shocks and can ride a straight line. Locked elbows is a sure way to ride a squirrely line as you hit all kinds of small irregularities in the road and jerk your bars around. Practice relaxing your elbows and you'll be much safer especially when you start riding or racing in groups.


    Medium to long hills are usually best handled in the saddle in gears you can stay on top of. It's pretty normal for cadence to drop while climbing but ideally you're not slogging away on the verge of stalling out and can at least keep up with your gear choices. Standing occasionally on longer climbs (often shifting up a gear or two first to keep your speed the same and give you some resistance while standing) can give your muscles a rest and give you a chance to stretch but if the climb is long and you're not very close to the top it should still be a relaxed effort. On short 'sprinter's' hills we generally stay in a bit higher gear and jump up out of the saddle for up to the minute or more or it takes to climb these shorter hills. Those are hard short efforts but they're typically necessary to preserve momentum and stay with the group and then you have to recover a bit on the descents or flats following these shorter hills.


    Ride a lot, push yourself to ride a bit faster on days when you feel good, focus on sustained efforts rather than short gut busting sprints and just get out a lot on your bike. That's the best easy advice for someone newer to the sport but wanting to go faster. In time you can get more sophisticated but start by riding a lot and riding harder on your good days and speed will come.


    Quote:


    Yeah they help you go faster but not so much on uphills and not so much if you're traveling less than about 15 mph unless you're pushing a strong headwind. If you want to do triathlons or time trials then invest in some clip on bars and do some of your training in that position but for general riding and road racing we don't use them. Never ride in your aero bars in a group training ride as it's very dangerous to be steering with your elbows with your hands away from the brakes in those situations. Aero bars are not legal in mass start road races.


    Read the Sheldon Brown link above (and the rest of the late great Sheldon's website for a lot of info on bikes) but get used to what gears feel like not necessarily the numbers or the ratios themselves. We don't calculate gear ratios as we ride, we shift up if we're spinning our legs faster than we'd like, we shift down to an easier gear if we begin grinding harder than we like on hills or into headwinds but the gear choices depend on the terrain, wind conditions and to a lesser extent the road surfaces as well as things like whether we're alone or riding faster in a group. Bigger gears up front (bigger chainrings) allow us to go faster for the same leg speed but are bigger gears and may be too big for the current road conditions. Smaller gears in the rear (cogs) also give us bigger, faster but harder to push gears. Shift front and back as necessary to match conditions, try not to use extreme combos like big rings up front and big cogs in the rear. That's called 'cross chaining' and puts extra stress on the chain and drive train components and often causes the chain to rub against the front derailleur cage. So if you're running out of easy enough gears in your big chainring and will have to cross chain to get the next lowest gear it's time to drop to your small front chainring and pick a decent mid cluster cog in the back. Same in reverse if you begin to spin out but the next shift will force you to go little chainring to little cog and cross chain then it's time to shift to the big chainring up front and pick an appropriate cog in the back for the speed you're traveling. None of that involves calculating gear ratios or doing any math on the fly, we just shift based on feel. The only time to pay attention to gear ratios is when you're considering buying new chainrings or new rear cassettes and want to know what range of teeth are appropriate for the kind of riding you plan to do. That's when Sheldon's info will be the most useful.

    Yeah, you have 3 chainring choices (you're running a 'triple' crankset) and they're 50, 39, and 30 teeth respectively. Your biggest rear cog (easiest, best for steep climbs) is 26 teeth and your smallest rear cog (hardest/fastest) is 11 teeth. Simple translation, you've got a very, very wide range of gear combinations to choose from and should be able to handle very steep uphills without bogging down by riding your 30/26 combo and should be able to go really, really fast on steep straight downhills or slight downhills with strong tailwinds by riding your 50/11 combo. We can do all kinds of math to explain the ratios or the gear inches or other ways of describing your gearing choices but bottom line is you've got some of the widest gearing available on a road bike and should be able to handle a very wide range of terrain and wind conditions with those gears.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  4. DVNDSN

    DVNDSN New Member

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    Awesome help guys, thanks so much. I'm going to study up on the tips given here and see what works best for me. I read the article by Sheldon Brown and it clarified a few things as well. I got my riding log the other day, and am going to hopefully be posting some good runs in it to keep my average speed up. I know of some good flats in my area and will run them this week maybe if I get the chance.
     
  5. CyclinYooper

    CyclinYooper New Member

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    Wow, there is a lot of really good information in this post! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Scott
     
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