Training/Racing Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by jsirabella, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    Hello All,

    First thanks for looking at the post but wanted some advice of what I am doing wrong or right?

    I have been riding for more than 3 years as cycling became more than just a way to loose weight after I had broken my ankle. For coming on a year in November, I finally took the plunge and bought a Cervelo R3 abnd after I bought it, I started to work with a coach who would ride with me occasionally but would give me a weekly workout spreadsheet for what to work upon. The coach has been great in that he improved my bike and hooked me up with a power tap and a compu trainer.

    In the beginning it was tough as I loved doing weights so much but I feel about a month ago I was able to finally get my weight training focused on power and putting more days on the bike than in the gym. One of the reasons I had the coach was to do a race and begin racing more regularly. The coach would test me occasionally and he kept saying, you are ready to race as you have the power and as he tested me in Central Park as he did the same races; I should be able to keep up with the pack, no problem.

    He advised to start with the Prospect Park race which is shorter and less hilly but most people describe as a crit than a race. Well anyway I got my doors blown off twice at this race, not even being able to keep up for half a lap. I just do not get it, maybe I am just not cut out for racing but can maintain avg speeds around the track of 20mph in Central Park. It just seems as soon as I get blown from the pack I just can not keep up and just completely die which I feel is more mental. I mean I look at the results at the end of the race and they are doing laps in about 16 minutes but yet I can do it in about 18 without a pack I just get completely blown out...Is it just mental and have you guys seen some riders who seem like they could race physically and just not be able to do it while you see guys with pot bellies yet seem to be able to fly???

    I am determined and will just keep training but I have to admit it is frustrating...

    -js
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Don't get frustrated and listen to your coach.

    Racing is tough at first, especially short and fast crits. There's a lot more skill than most beginners think in terms of saving energy, riding safely in the pack, avoiding brakes in the corners and hanging tough during those first few fast and furious laps. The good news is that it gets easier with practice, it's not really about being all that tough. Yeah it helps a lot to continue to improve your fitness and sustainable power but there's a lot of specific skills that can help as well and you simply have to ride with others and ride races to get those skills.

    Good luck and stick with it,
    -Dave
     
  3. Frigo's Luggage

    Frigo's Luggage New Member

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    There are four types of riders: a) freaks of nature for which Cat 4/5 racing is easy right from the beginning; b) normal people that get destroyed in their first few races but learn from their mistakes and keep coming back for more until they finally can do it; c) normal people that get destroyed in their first couple races and quit; and d) those people that are afraid to even try racing. You are already ahead of the people in category d. The only difference between b and c is perserverance. Just keep plugging away and keep learning from your mistakes. Eventually you will figure it out and your body will adapt to the punishment.

    Don't worry about your average mph on a ride. As you can probably tell, racing is about being able to go with the sudden accellerations and to be smart enough to be able to stay with the bunch. You might want to work on sprinting. Eventually you will develop survival skills and will be fine.

    Its a tough sport and almost everyone has similar experiences in the beginning. Just keep trying and don't get frustrated with yourself.
     
  4. likes to ride

    likes to ride New Member

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    Has your coach prescribed specific training intervals for high AT work needed? When riding in a group I await at the front or near the front for someone to take a flyer at 28 plus, then I jump hard to get on his wheel. After catching my breath I help to stay away. Another good drill is to do some motor pacing. Have a buddy pace you on a scooter that can go 25-30 mph. As for racing, try to get comfortable in the pack and not at the back. When I first started I was intimidated and stayed at the back. It is an accordian, that has you jumping hard to stay in contact with the pack. In the pack the speed and effort is more constant. Hang in there, it will get easier but keep trying and remember that it takes time to improve. Racing much like training can be very humbling.
     
  5. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    First thank you all for your responses and I want to say that this is quite a humbling experience. I really thought that while I would not win races I should be able to atleast stay close to the pack...but it seems either you are with the pack or you are NOT.

    I do feel though there is one point you guys all bring up which to me is very interesting. Does training really make you better at races or just simply doing more races?

    I see how a race is really not as much a race as much as series of intervals. The person who can hold the interval the longest and complete enough intervals to finish the distance seems to be the likely winner. Putting in miles while good, really does nothing to help you in these type of cases. It would seem better to put in less miles per week but make them very intensive as opposed to putting in long hours on the bike accumulating many miles per week. In addition I agree 100% that probably the biggest problem for me is that you need to feel that you control the bike and the bike does not control you in places like descents and corners.

    It would seem while I am charting my watts and such and doing hills to get better, I really need to just get the sprints and intervals going more...

    Is what I am writing here basically true?

    Ofcourse being more of a former gym rat does not make me smart enuf to know when to quit so I will just keep plugging along so not too worried about giving up just yet...:)

    -jfs





     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Training really does help, you need the engine in order to race effectively and you have much more control over how you build that engine during training. As a newcomer, racing and group riding is really important to teach you to ride efficiently, to teach you how to stay on a wheel and to help you get comfortable going fast in the thick of things. But for the most part racing is not the best training. especially not until you can hang with the group. Do races for the fast group riding experience, but don't neglect your other training. Don't fall into the trap of continually trying to taper or be fresh for training races, neglecting that engine building you need to do and just suffering at speeds beyond your comfort zone.

    Be careful with this line of reasoning. Sure a fast crit with lots of corners(only one type of bike race) requires a lot of fast accelerations, especially if you're not powerful enough to ride it near the front. But the fastest riders will still have very well trained aerobic fitness and the top finishers will be aerobic for the vast majority of the race. These may seem like a series of anaerobic intervals to you, but as your fitness and speed increase the efforts won't seem so bad.

    A rider's ability to perform many rapid accelerations with quick recovery is limited by their long term aerobic fitness. So if you ignore your aerobic fitness and start doing anaerobic interval work you'll increase your top speed and your ability to handle a few short hard efforts but you'll still have trouble completing crits and stifle your longer term progress. I made that mistake for years and suffered accordingly. These days I focus on aerobic work with longer repeats(like 20 minute Threshold efforts or hard 5 minute VO2 max efforts) and my racing including my performance in crits has improved dramatically. Sure some gut busting anaerobic intervals are useful for racing but only on top of well tuned aerobic fitness. If you don't have your basic aerobic engine working well it won't matter what you can do anaerobically for a minute or two.

    You did make a very good observation about just putting in miles. I hope your coach is recommending more than just accumulating miles. Big miles without focus or purpose won't make you fast. Moderate weekly mileage at intensities targeting specific fitness adaptations can work wonders. Too many riders think in terms of weekly mileage and don't focus their efforts. If your coach isn't talking to you in terms of 10 to 30 minute steady efforts or 3 to 5 minute repeats with deep near maximal breathing then I'd surf these forums and do some research. Search these forums for info on Sweet Spot Training(SST), FTP, 2x20 interval training, V02 Max intervals(5x5s). Read Hunter and Coggan's book: http://www.amazon.com/Training-Racing-Power-Meter-Hunter/dp/1931382794 even if you don't anticipate buying a power meter. There's a lot of really important concepts in that book, especially those related to training specific energy delivery systems. It helps explain why a series of one to two minute make ya puke intervals won't do much for your ability to go fast for an hour or help you climb fast with the race leaders.

    I hope you're talking to your coach about this stuff and hope he or she keeps you on a good long term track to improve overall fitness and speed. You're right mileage alone won't get the job done, but don't fall into the other trap of killing yourself with short hard efforts while neglecting your core aerobic fitness.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
  7. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    Hi Dave,

    I want to thank you for taking the time to write this detailed response. It is very helpful.

    My coach gives me a monthly schedule which usually has four days of riding and three days of rest. On the weekdays they are usually 1 to 1.5 hour tempo rides with intervals of 5 X 5 or 8 X 3 in harder gears which he calls VO2 intervals. On the weekends, since the race season began, he would like me to race on Saturday and than a 4 hour endurance ride on Sunday. Also it seems to be as we get closer to the end of the month, he will let go of one of the VO2 days and substitute an easy spin and also gives me the option of no racing and do an endurance ride. He says he has found that too many of the other riders on the team are burning out on too many races.

    Lately he has told me to just totally focus on watts and found me a used power meter. I do love the power meter. The coach also loves the computrainer pro as he loves the way you can exactly set the watts on it. He also performs this test on the trainer where I start at 80W and keep doing 5 minute intervals with rest periods until he says stop...while I do each intevral he takes my heart rate and a blood sample, checking levels. He said I had a huge improvement from the first test.

    In the beginning I was really more of a gym rat interested in fitness/bodybuilding and using the cycling as a way to fit in my aerobics until one year I set the goal for a bike ride from NY to Baltimore and did it. It took me till a couple months ago to really completely change my workout to better fit with the coach's schedule. You see I also have a gym trainer who was pushing me in other directions to get mass and muscles. I finally got the trainer in tune with my goals for racing and have colmpletely changed our workout for power/intensity in short workout of 1 to 1.5 hours and anywhere from 2 or 3 days a week. High rep, compound moves (clean & jerk, deadlifts and such) lower weight, high intensity (hr at 85% of max) with no breaks. I am finally starting to feel the results on the bike where I will put in another 3 days of training with 1 or 2 days off during the week.

    Also a big help was to do everything in the morning. When I was trying to fit in more gym, I would try to do my riding at nights. I have found doing my gym and riding on different days and in the early mornings to work great! Also during this time of the year Central Park is a zoo unless you get there early, a cop even gave me a ticket one day for going to fast and there is no way you will not kill someone eventually doing intervals or some other sprint type training. Joggers do not believe they will get hurt when a bike hits them at 20mph...I am not into hurting others and prefer to avoid it with early morning rides.

    While I can even visually see the changes in my body as my trainer feels I look more like a bodybuilder now than before, I just got to get past my latest goal of just being able to hang on with the pack for a race!!

    Patience will be key...

    -john s


     
  8. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    That all sounds good. Read up on SST, and L4(Coggan's training levels) work, you might start with these threads: http://www.cyclingforums.com/t397725.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t401662.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t314849.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t397979.html

    Then talk to your coach about longer SST or Threshold repeats in your weekly schedule. Some folks go with the "pull up" approach where you work the very top end of aerobic fitness(VO2 max or L5) and hope to pull up your threshold fitness. I've had much better luck with a "push up" approach where you work a lot of L4(threshold), SST and L3(tempo) to increase your core aerobic fitness or sustainable power(FTP) and only focus on L5 a few times a season to periodically raise my aerobic ceiling. Your coach may have very good reasons for not scheduling L4 or SST work in your weekly schedule but I'd definitely take the time to educate yourself and have the discussion.

    Personally I find I can maintain a higher training load (CTL in power terms) and avoid burnout with an SST/L4 based push up approach. I still do higher level workouts, but they're not the core of my training week. SST in particular is really good for increasing both FTP and CTL and has been key to coming back from the brink of overtraining after hard periods of racing. You're paying a coach, so don't take my advice, talk to your coach but at least take the time to understand the different approaches.

    Good luck and congrats on hanging tough in your race, they will get easier ... and then you'll upgrade ;)

    -Dave
     
  9. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    I am going to have to pick up this book as from what I see it can make the most out of the power meter. Also honestly alot of terms you are using like L4/SST are kind of going over my head...:confused:

    Only the last couple of months I really started to understand alot of the terms the coach tells me. But based upon the threads you linked, I can see it can help everyone including the novice. I see how staying in the saddle is important for learning riding skills butyou also need a set plan.

    I am going to order it now...

    -js

     
  10. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    Let me ask you one more thing though which may be small.

    When I have been doing my workouts as per the schedule I seem to be doing anywhere from 100-150 miles per week (not including commuting and trainer miles). When I tell people that they seem to say, that is not enough to really get stronger. But than they also tell me they put in about 3,000 to 5,000 miles per year which seems less than 100 per week???

    So if you are adhering to a training program as you explained with not much endurance riding...how many miles should a person be clocking per wekk or year?

    -john s


     
  11. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    It depends upon your goals and your available time to train as well as time to recover. If you've got a whole lot of time on your hands to both train and recover well you can work up to longer rides on a quality over quantity plan but you need to ride them with sufficient intensity. Most amateur cyclists have jobs, families, school or other obligations which limit both training and recovery time. Even full time pros have limits on training and recovery time. If you had the time to work up to a whole lot of quality miles and you had the time and lifestyle to actually recover from that training load then that would be the best of both worlds. In that case your sustainable power (FTP) would go up and your total training load (CTL or Chronic Training Load) would also get quite high which is a real good indicator of how well you'll do in longer races or stage races or as Andy Coggan says the more you train, the more you can train.

    Problem is, no one can infinitely pile on both training intensity and training volume. One or the other generally has to give or we burnout and over train. A lot of folks focus on the mileage or training volume side of the equation. If you ignore the training intensity and just accumulate miles you tend to get real good at covering miles but don't necessarily get much faster. There are a ton of weekend century riders who can ride 100 or 200 miles in a day no problem but would have trouble in those fast crits you describe.

    So the trick is to spend enough time training on the bike to build a deep enough training base (CTL) while riding with enough intensity to encourage the desired fitness adaptations (increased power over desired durations, VO2 Max, FTP, etc.). And you need to allow enough time for your body to recover and to get stronger between these workouts as well.

    Anyway, to answer your question, back in the day I typically rode 250 to 300 miles per week and 400+ mile weeks weren't uncommon. This year I only have a handful of weeks over 200 miles and those were weeks that ended with weekend stage races. I only have a few rides over 100 miles this year including the Markleeville Death Ride which felt great even without a lot of big training miles beforehand. I typically train 10 to 12 hours per week and most of that is Tempo riding or harder. I race masters these days so my road races are typically 50 to 80 miles long and crits are less than an hour.

    100 to 150 a week could be enough if you ride those with sufficient intensity and have them spread out throughout the week. If you do that all in just a couple of days or spend a lot of them riding easily then no, it's not enough. More is better if you can sustain the appropriate intensity, but again that depends on your goals and your available time to train and to recover.

    Hope that helps,
    -Dave
    P.S. While you're waiting for Andy and Hunter's book you might check the power training acronym stickies: http://www.cyclingforums.com/t386984.html
    It doesn't explain it all, but might help with some of the alphabet soup :)
     
  12. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    Thank you again for the link and the advice. You have described me almost to a "T" when you said I am the kind of guy who could do centuries without much trouble but can not hold myself in a crit if my life depended on it.

    Since you knowledge seems quite endless on the subject I wanted to ask you one last thing. It seems to be no matter how hard my coach seems to help my bike handling skills by giving me better wheels and better tires, my bike handling skills are still what I would call poor. I have been doing that same Harlem Hill which seems like forever and I can not seem to feel comfortable on the descent. Do you have a good book which will give me more exercises to get me bike handling skillls up. When I ask my coach he seems to kind of get frustrated and says keep practicing circles in the roller blade park and it will come as you put more time in the saddle and experiment with different hand positions.

    I can understand his frustration as it is mostly mental for me as I had broken my ankle years ago having nothing to do with the bike so as I go down the hill I keep seeing images of my steel plates in my ankle. Also at 41, you start to realize you are not superman. It is funny as I get my heart rate up and too tired to think I get better in the ride. But I want more exercises...any good books or links???

    -jfs


     
  13. YMCA

    YMCA New Member

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    Bike handling is about experience and relaxation. Give yourself time. Ride with others, as often a possible. Don't overanalyze any one situation. If it's crashing you are worried about, then your disadvantage is that you are not letting your reflexes, or brain work naturally.

    Tense = bad
    Carefree, but aware = good

    Some things that may help:
    -loose grip on the bar
    -riding position neutral
    -sit up no handed and feel the bike move back and forth under you (try in tennis shoes first)
    -learn to hop curbs, jump potholes, etc (sometimes you don't have an out and need these capabilities)
    -breathe, don't panic

    Don't forget, the more you ride, the more you become one with that bike. Kind of corny, but very true.
     
  14. iliveonnitro

    iliveonnitro New Member

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    With all the advice you're giving, I'd like to ask you a question. What do you consider "base" miles. More specifically, what kind of rides do you do which constitutes as base. I think he will be overwhelmed with Coggan's book w/o knowing how to structure a training plan like a generalized one from Friel.
     
  15. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough question. When I started training with power I used a very Friel like yearly periodization plan in terms of leg speed before intensity, volume before intensity and preplanned periodic rest weeks. The deeper I got into power training and the better my understanding of the WKO+ Performance Manager became the more I deviated from that approach. The more SST work I did over the winter the less I worried about a traditional base build and started thinking of preseason base as building FTP and CTL with SST and L4 work. By tracking CTL, daily TSS and TSB and urged by more experienced members of this forum I moved away from preplanned rest and work weeks. Now I back off my training when; life forces me to with other obligations, my Tss/day/week ramp gets too steep, I'm overly worn out for some other reason or I'm tapering for an event. I no longer preplan my rest weeks and don't hesitate to keep building CTL with SST and L4 work when I'm feeling good. And I don't suppose I'll ever go back to early winter easy spin rides over building fitness with SST.

    I find it strange that Friel gets recommended alongside Andy's work. From what I can tell Andy doesn't recommend weight training for road cyclists, doesn't recommend preplanned work/rest cycles, doesn't recommend starting each season with low intensity riding, doesn't recommend HR based training zones and doesn't recommend much less than L2+ work in a typical road racer's weekly schedule. IOW it doesn't seem like Andy recommends much of what Friel advocates.

    IMHO the missing manual for race training puts all this SST/L4 FTP building, PMC based load management and neuvo base training into print. IOW a training guide based on the concepts you can find here and in the topica wattage forums which include a higher intensity definition of base than old school LSD and a rethinking of load management based on what you've actually done and the TRIMPS model of how that affects you instead of preplanned on and off cycles. Add to that some info on planning tapers based on CTL, ATL and TSB and a discussion of how SST can help to build CTL as well as help you avoid burnout during stressful periods of racing.

    Anyway to directly answer your questions, my base training starts at tempo and usually involves SST and my training year is based on first building CTL and FTP with SST and L4 work. L5 and L6 work is added about 6 weeks before the first important races then taken away when racing is in full swing and replaced with more CTL rebuilding SST work. It definitely doesn't follow Friel's approach anymore but is based on the concept that FTP and CTL are the starting points for racing and that L5, L6 and L7 work is useful and necessary but only if the basic aerobic engine is working well.

    -Dave
     
  16. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    Dave,

    While my coach really wants me to do it but I think I may be setting myself for another fall, I wanted to know what type of strategy would you suggest for a 17 mile what I you would call a crit with other cat 5 riders? You seem to really know your stuff and used to race...any guidance so I can just hold on a little bit longer would be great.

    In addition to racing strategy how about eating and waking up? I am an early bird as I gym and ride early in the morning like about 6am...but racing at 6:30am, my body is still in slow mode for the first half hour on the bike atleast and I do not know what to shove down my throat and how early and fast. I need help on this one also.

    Just hoping for a better showing...:eek:

    -js

     
  17. iliveonnitro

    iliveonnitro New Member

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    js,

    Crits are just a hyperactive road race. A 17mi crit is what, 45min? You need to just sit in -- don't attack, but stay with the pack. The best strategy anyone can give you is to stay in the front 3-10 riders and FIGHT for that positioning. Remember, if you aren't moving up, you're moving back. The last place you want to end up is in the middle/middle-back of the pack where the constant accelerations are enough to wear out even the strongest riders. If you find yourself moving back, which you will, make a move to get near the front. Even if you have to sprint alongside the peloton and duck into the 5th wheel to recover.

    Since the race is at 6:30am, I recommend waking up at 4:30am and eating right away. Down some oatmeal or peanut butter on a bagel, but no dairy. Stay hydrated. Right before the start, take a gel shot. If you don't have a gel, don't eat anything. The last thing you want to do is a hard workout 30-60min before a race when your body will be concentrating on digesting (or in this case, throwing up). Warm up before the race for at least 45min to make sure the blood is flowing to the muscles. Crits, esp shorter 45min ones, start out fast. You need to be ready to take off right from the start.

    Enjoy the race! It really is an exhilaration. The more aggressive (read: not stupid) you are, the better you will place.


     
  18. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    iliveonnitro's advice is really good, stay up near the front as much as possible to smooth out speed variations and to avoid crashes. Take clean smooth and predictable outside-inside-outside lines through the corners using the whole road and stay off your brakes as much as possible. Don't push huge gears out of the corners, especially if you're further back and forced to slow for the bends. Shift to an easier rear cog as you approach the corner, spin that up to close the gap leaving the corner and then shift back up into your straightaway gear. If you have to jump out of the saddle to acellerate out of every corner you won't last long. Don't dive underneath folks in corners, change your line mid turn or otherwise ride in dangerous and unpredictable ways.

    Expect the first few laps to be ridiculously fast, get a good warmup including some hard one minute efforts so that you're ready to go top speed right from the gun. The pace will slow down and then you can collect your wits before the final few laps which are often faster than the first few. If you have any aspirations of placing in the top five riders you'd better be up at the front (within the first 4 or 5 riders) with one lap to go which probably means you need to be in the top 8 to 10 with two laps to go if the finish is fast. It's really tough to move up if the final laps are fast. If the field slows down on the final laps(distinct possibility in a Cat 5 race where no one wants to pull) then you need to move up immediately even if it means pulling the group. When the pack slows everyone at the back will come swelling up both sides and suddenly you'll find yourself twenty or thirty riders back. A fast finish is both safer and easier to ride so be ready to go hard if the pack slows with only a couple of laps to go.

    Crits are all about micro-acellerations; coming out of corners, closing small gaps, getting around the rider in front of you who's blowing up, etc. Use your gears (don't mash huge gears in a crit) and close all those gaps as quickly as you can. A few quick high rpm pedal strokes is often all it takes to close a gap before it gets too big.

    Shoot, I aint dead yet and still race :)
    This one is fairly personal and you'll have to find out what works for you, but iliveonnitro's advice is a good starting point. Give yourself several hours to digest breakfast before your ride. I like oatmeal in the morning but YMMV. I also like a drink like Metabolol or Endurox up to half an hour before a crit or TT but again you need to test this prior to race day.

    -Dave
     
  19. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

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    First thank you both for all the advice.

    It seems that both of you are pretty much on the same page and iliveonnitro hit it on the head that I believe the race is about 45 minutes long. I believe I did the math correctly so you must be going an avg of 24 mph for the 17 miles. I have Cervelo R3 with a Dura Ace setup. When you keep speaking about straightaway gears and curve gears and hill gears, should I be looking to be more picking gears that I can spin at 100rpm or use harder gears that I get lower rpm. I amn always confused by this within a race...how do you decide what combo of chainring and cassette to be in?

    -js


     
  20. workingguy

    workingguy Member

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    If you watch Robbie Ventura's "Race Day" video, he is constantly shifting. This was at Downers Grove in the 30+ masters, I don't know what year.

    Since you have Dura Ace (not sure if they are compact cranksets), I'll assume 39/53 chainrings. Straightaway gears are like 53x14 or 13 where you're going 30+ mph. When the pace slows downshift right away to 16 or 17. Depends on how fast the corners are. Some courses allow 3 or 4 wide through corners, so you can probably stay in 16 or 17. If there's a hill, depends on how short and steep it is. If you can help it, try to stay in the big ring and go down to 53x23 if you have to. Shifting to the small ring is much slower and you might drop the chain, in which case you'll have to sprint to close the gap. Just takes experience and you'll be able to get a feel for it the more you do it. Just be prepared to go much faster than in training so you'll be in a much higher gear than you'd think.
     
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