Hurting myself?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Dave Pace, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. Dave Pace

    Dave Pace Member

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    At this time my current gearing is 34/50 with 13/14/15/17/19/21/23

    I am being passed like there is no tomorrow on the hills and people are keeping in their small chain ring and passing me. Should I upgrade to a 39/53? What should I expect as far as going up hill, better or worst?
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Your gearing is fine. If anything you might want gearing lower than a 34x23 for steeper climbs but you will not go faster by changing to a 39/53 crankset. As it is you can easily ride the 34x12 or 34x13 if you want a really big hill climbing gear.

    You need more sustainable power up those climbs, not higher gearing.
     
  3. Dave Pace

    Dave Pace Member

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    But its not just the hills. its also the flats. people in the small rings pulling away while I'm in my big ring is just well disheartening. Im spinning a bigger gear faster but bearly able to keep up with them spinning a smaller gear slower.
     
  4. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I am missing something here. Spinning the same or larger gear at the same rate should attain the same or greater results regardless, if all other things are equal.
    One thing that I am never sure of is what gear ring someone else is in. I do well just to know which gear I am it.
     
  5. Dave Pace

    Dave Pace Member

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    Maybe, and by that i mean lack of info.

    What i did find out was that I did try someone else's bike who has no issue passing me on the flats while they are in the small chain ring. Riding his I found that the small 1 was a good ring to be in to cruse along at and easaly kept up with me. the force I had to exhert was not that hard but i could keep the same speed longer and also at a good cadence (80) on mine to keep it at that speed in the low gear I would have to pump like crazy or get in to the big ring and then keep it at 85 just to keep up. If i went up a gear sure I could keep up and may be pass them but I was down to 75 rpm and the gear was harder to keep going. Really i liked the way the set up felt on that bike unlike mine currently where the small feels just too low
     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    You seem to be tangling up several topics here at once.

    - Climbing gears... you started this thread wondering if a compact chainring (50/34) was hurting you on the climbs and if a 53/39 would help your climbing. No, troubles related to gearing on climbs are a matter of the lowest gear you carry and your compact is already giving you a very low gear which is certainly lower than the same cassette paired up with a 39 tooth small chainring. Perhaps that is not low enough for some steep climbs you do, but switching to a larger chainring with the same cassette will not resolve that problem. If you want lower climbing gears then buy a cassette with a larger range such as an 11-28. If your problem is your compact gear in the lowest gear is too low then simply shift up on the climbs. For instance to get a gear close to a 39x23 with your compact gearing shift into the 34x21 or 34x19 (the ideal equivalent cog is a 20 tooth but most of us don't carry a 20 so use the 21 coupled with your compact for a slightly easier gear and the 19 for a slightly harder gear but it's easy to get the equivalent of using a 39 tooth ring and the 23 tooth cog.

    - Gears on the flats and going faster... Your 50 tooth big ring on the compact coupled with the 11 tooth cog is a really big gear, it's a bigger gear at nearly 123 gear inches than a 53x12 at 119 gear inches. To give a recent example, Kevin Metcalf recently set a national record in the 40 km time trial rolling a compact crank at less than 49 minutes, that's an average speed over over 30 mph solo from a standing start and including a low speed U turn. From his race report he was mostly turning the 13 and 14 tooth cogs at those speeds. You've got plenty of high end with your 50x11 for most riding unless you regularly get spun out on long tailwind descents.

    - Running the big ring when others around you are running the small ring... Yeah, this is a tradeoff with a compact crank. Personally when I run compacts I find I spend about 90% of my time in the big ring (the 50) and reserve the small ring for longer or steeper climbs or really stout headwind sections. The shift between the large and small rings on a compact can be pretty dramatic as well so I tend to be in the big ring a lot and the small ring only when I really need it. But that has very little to do with what chainrings others around me are riding or whether I can stay with them. It doesn't matter if I'm running say my 50x19 and they're running their 39x15 they're both roughly 71 inch gears and for the same cadence the speeds will be nearly the same.

    You might want to spend some time with gearing charts like this: http://www.machars.net/bikecalc.htm to see how different gearing combinations break down and how compact geared bikes (50/34) compare to traditional chainring setups (53/39) with different cassettes and what that means in terms of bike speeds at different cadences.

    Bottom line, if you're getting passed on the flats or on the hills it is almost certainly a problem with fitness and sustainable power. Simply changing to a different crankset won't change that. If OTOH you prefer to spend more time in your small ring or don't need as much gearing range on the low end as you have with your compact crank then sure you can swap to a traditional 53(or 52) / 39 crankset but there is no magic there and it will not immediately speed you up.

    -Dave
     
  7. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    I think I'm understanding you. You're finding a majority of the useable gears within your preference on the smaller ring of the typical 130bcd setup over the 110, without having to shift the front more often. Nothing wrong with that. My preference is just the opposite. Even though I race and one might think I'd be more comfortable using a 53t up front, I prefer the range of gearing based on my normal cadence, which is on the high side, and fitness to spend most of my riding time in the 50t. On a typical 130bcd I find I'm shifting too often between the 53 and 39. Unless I'm reading your comment incorrectly in which case I'm thoroughly confused.

    But what's been said above, the gearing differences between a normal and compact setup won't make anyone faster or slower, unless of course one runs out of required gears in either the high or low end for the riding circumstances called upon.
     
  8. Dave Pace

    Dave Pace Member

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    Nope, you all are hitting the nail on the head. Sorry that my thoughts were all over the place.

    I guess I just did not know the difference until I tried someone Else's. Yes I did not go up hill with it, But on the flats it just felt like the wind was at my back on his gearing. It felt, comfortable. I did not feel like I was having to try to peddle I just did it in that lower chain ring. Like I said hard to explain..

    But to be on point I see what you are saying I may not have the advantage on the climbs and this is not the magic key, but at the same time the thought goes through my head if I am feeling betters on the flats with that why wouldn't I feel better on the hill with that. Know what I mean?

    As far as fitness, why I am the perfect specimen (of a couch potato getting off his arse for once) But I do like to keep my rpms at 80 to 85, but to challenge myself I kept my rpms at 90 today to and from work. Yea its only 14 miles but I was able to do it.

    IDK But maybe it would not hut to just change the small chain ring?
     
  9. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Sure you can try all kinds of combinations, but the key thing to remember is that in the end it's only gear ratios that matter. IOW, if the gear ratios you get by using the compact with one rear cog vs the 39 tooth ring with a different rear cog are the same then your legs and body do not know the difference. IOW, you may need to shift up or down a cog or two to get a similar if not the same gear ratio but it's only the ratios that matter in the end.

    So a 39x13 (3:1) ratio is the same as a 54x18(3:1) ratio or a 51:17 (still 3:1) or nearly the same as a 34:11 (3.09:1). All of those give you the same gearing and it makes no difference to your body or to the speed you carry how you arrive at that ratio. So choose gearing that hits the high and low end you're after and gives you enough in between steps that you'll use a lot for the type of riding you do at the speeds you do it. How you arrive at that gearing doesn't really matter.

    All that said, if you want to play with higher gearing that allows more time in the small ring than a pure compact I'd suggest you just buy a couple of chainrings to set up a mid-compact with your existing crankset. Just buy a 36 and 52 tooth chainring (or just buy the 36 and stick with your current 50) to match the 110 BCD bolt circle on your current crankset. A lot of folks that don't live in really mountainous terrain or struggle with a lot of steep climbs find the mid-compact gearing (typically set up 52/36) gives a nice range in both the small and large rings and covers most riding situations nicely but doesn't spread the gearing out quite as much as a full compact (50/34).

    -Dave
     
  10. cyclintom

    cyclintom Well-Known Member

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    The question really is - are you trained enough to keep up with people of your age and ability?
     
  11. Dave Pace

    Dave Pace Member

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    can you expand by letting me know what your definition is of Trained is?
     
  12. cyclintom

    cyclintom Well-Known Member

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    Dave, you can't just hop on a bike and expect to keep up with people that have been riding for years. You have to build the muscles in your legs, ankles and feet, your lungs for oxygen uptake and your mind to ignore the pains that everyone gets from riding at or near their physical limits. And withstanding pain is something that is usually not stressed. And yet elite professional cyclists who are past their prime physical abilities often continue to improve in speed and climbing ability simply because they continue to learn to withstand the pain of riding at their limits.

    While mechanical gear ratios are important they are a whole lot less important than you might expect. It isn't unusual for there to be two extremely adept professionals to be riding together up a big climb one spinning and the other lugging in the big ring.

    To train yourself you need to only climb at your limits perhaps once a week. The rest of the time you climb in a gear in which you care reasonably comfortable. If you push yourself all the time you are always too tired to push yourself so hard that you improve. But most riders believe that you ride at of very near your limit all the time. And they are not good riders other than perhaps compared to the others they ride with.

    After you're trained up you can increase the number of times you can ride at your limits but it is still important that you take your easy days. Even the Tour de France riders have easy days in the Tour and sit on.

    Training is simply NOT a case of going out and giving it everything you have. Nor is it riding once a week. Joe Friel has published a book on training that you might read. It is designed more on the lines of a young man trying to train for professional racing but it would give you an idea of what real training is.
     
  13. Dave Pace

    Dave Pace Member

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    you know what... You are right. Today I found out I dont need anymore than what I have. I was able to conserve energy, up my rpm's, and also keep my avg speed to 18 mph over all. it is amazing what you learn on the long rides. here I thought I learned my bike in 30 and 60 mile rides. this 100 mile taught me alot.
     
  14. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    Long and hard rides with riders who are a level or two better than you will make you a better rider. Hydration and nutrition are so important on long rides, nail that and you'll get through 160 mile rides no problem at all.
     
  15. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I think this is the best advice to follow.

    It is dispiriting when you see other cyclists on the same climb spinning a relative higher/bigger gear than you are - and appearing to do so with little or no effort and progressing up that climb relatively more quickly.
    My own advice would be to ignore what others are doing and concentrate upon your own effort while doing so.

    When I raced climbing was my weak point. I was/am too big to match the out and out climbers. I had to work hard to try to minimise their ability to gain time in me when climbing.
    To that end I used to make a point of training with the climbers in my club. In trying to stay with them, I found that my climbing improved gradually as I trained more and more with them.
    Without doubt training to improve ones weak point is the toughest training of all. It really is down to perseverance and hard work to ensure improvement. But improve you will!
     
  16. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I'm not training for anything. That's apparent in the message I posted to this thread earlier.

    I have a distinct impression that you are a previously banned poster.
     
  17. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    That is simply not true. Of the 60+ racers on our team fewer than 5 started cycling seriously at less than 25 years of age. Among the other 55 or so we have many podium places, victories, upgrades and several state champions. This past weekend two of our Cat 2 women took first and second place in the state championship road race, both were well into their 30s when they started riding seriously. We've also got many men who went from beginning Cat 5 racers up through the ranks and currently race in the 2s that did not start until their mid 30s or even 40s.

    If you look at stats for USAC race attendance you'll see the masters categories are some of the consistently largest fields coming out to races and if anything the sport has a problem with junior and young adult participation. Many very successful riders started after the age of 25 and some quite a bit older than that. Sure not many 30 year old Cat 5s ever land a pro contract but many develop very good fitness and racing skills and race at a very high level for many years.

    -Dave
     
  18. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Even if not training for racing, there's absolutely nothing wrong with training to be better than you are now, especially if that person enjoys that and appreciates the challenge. Not racing does not have to require stasis.
     
  19. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    To do better on hills...you better DO hills.

    You will get better on them.

    And get yourself a rocking mental hill-mantra going.
     
  20. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I have just gotten older doing hills. The downhill sections are still easy,
     
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