When you're shot, shift to higher gear?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Pendejo, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Pendejo

    Pendejo Member

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    I'm reading a book now called "The Rider," by Tim Krabbe. It's the account of the author's emotions, thinking, and tactics during a long road race. In one part he's trying to chase down a break and he just hits the wall. "Then I remembered the words of advice: 'Shift, when you're really, truly at the end of your rope, to a higher gear.'"

    This seems opposite of what we typically do, which would be to shift to a lower gear and spin faster for a bit. But is there wisdom in that advice? When you're shot is it really easier to maintain your speed by going to the next higher gear instead of dropping down one? Do any of you racers do this?
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    I've always found that when I run out of spin I can still mash a big gear, but the opposite is rarely true. There are a lot of advantages to maintaining a high cadence during a mass start race, especially in terms of accelerating to cover attacks. But when I've been winding it out during a race and I start to fall apart I'll definitely drop it into a larger gear and try to hang on, downshifting at that point will put me off the back for sure. I'm not talking about a climb that suddenly gets steeper or rounding a corner into a headwind just what happens if I start to run out of steam in my preferred racing gear.

    YMMV,
    -Dave
     
  3. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Downshifting when you've hit the wall is essentially giving up. In the book I think the author was figuratively saying "when you feel like giving up, dig deeper and keep fighting."

    That said, I would agree that I can still mash (or stand) to some degree after spinning becomes unbearable. Muscle speed/coordination seems to leave before force gives out completely.
     
  4. grahamspringett

    grahamspringett New Member

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    When I'm doing an hour of power on the trainer and I start to struggle, usually around the 40 minute mark, I shift up a cog. It seems more bearable to chug a biggie than rev a little 'un. Well, not really rev but I shift from a 17 to a 16 and push a bit harder.

    No idea what the physiology or psychology is, and I know revving is better (and indeed I was revving nicely on the Saturday morning burn-up) but on the turbo slogging seems to get me to the finish of the hour.

    That book is a good read, but I think when he says change up when you're tired, I think he means just that!
     
  5. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I used to find that when I was just about done there was always a little bit more to be had if you dropped it into a smaller sprocket and got out of the saddle. At that stage you just hope that the other guys are suffering as much. When you're that shot then all "finesse" has gone and shifting to a smaller gear and pedaling faster often isn't on the table.
     
  6. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Tim Krabbe lives here in Amsterdam and I sometimes see him at the bi weekly club race here.....

    In holland everybody rides in a lighter gear with very high cadence. everyone is taught that way and most guys have a natural cadence of at least 95. For going hard, typically 110 is seen as the magic number - most coaches here recommend doing intervals, racing crits etc at really high cadence.

    Now, those of you that ride high cadence will know that when you are really cooked at 110, there is a massive temptation to click down a cog and "grind" a little.....it just seems easier when you are totally spent....

    I often find I am "recovering" on the 16/17 but " attttacking / chasing / closing gaps etc on the 18 / 19......don't know whether this makes any sense or not.
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Cool! Tell him we loved the book. :)
     
  8. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    I know that feeling and it's one's last throw. However, is that a wise thing to do? If one kept that bit of extra energy and just kept going for a little longer, would that have been better? Is this a psychological or physical issue? :confused:
     
  9. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I've never heard that advise.

    When you were shot while racing - what we used tried to do was to maintain
    the same gear but drop the cadence in order to allow you to recover.
    If that didn't work, only then did we drop a gear (shift to an easier gear).
     
  10. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    ...or a literary one? ;)
     
  11. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    If it means the difference between sitting on a wheel while mashing and riding nose in the wind pedaling gracefully off the back..... I'll take the monster mash.
     
  12. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    So if you find yourself digging a hole just dig deeper and really bury yourself.:)

     
  13. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    If you're reaching the end of your rope it's either that or sit up and wave goodbye to the field. If you can downshift when you're getting dropped and find leg speed in those situations then you were either over geared up to that point or your muscles are wired really differently than mine...

    -Dave
    edit...I guess this depends on how you typically ride and what gears you prefer. I raced track for years and tend to rely heavily on leg speed, especially in crits. So I'm generally already spinning fairly fast when the hammer drops or I start to lose it. Some folks pound bigger gears and jump out of the saddle out of every crit corner, I suppose a bigger gear might not help them much when the moment of truth comes. So, like everything else I suppose "it depends..."
     
  14. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

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    In that situation, I will shift to whatever gear gives me the highest power at the cadence that I can handle at that moment. Most of the time, that's a lower gear where I spin more.
     
  15. rmur17

    rmur17 New Member

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    I find by dropping into a bigger gear than I can hang on for a little longer - say on a longish climb or during a 40k effort but the end result is the same - maybe an extra few minutes with bigger gear and lower cadence. If I feel I really, really need to spin - I'm out the back.

    Hey above, I really liked that book too. Read it at least once per winter for some motivation. Six months of indoor training and ... well you need something to imagine eh?
     
  16. postal_bag

    postal_bag New Member

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    In training, if I am worn-out after 2x30' of SST, unable to do a 3rd rep @ my normal cadence of 90-92 rpm, I can often bang off another 30' at 85 rpm, or sometimes even as low as 70 rpm.
     
  17. root

    root New Member

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    Curious. My natural cadence seems to be around 110 - 115. When I don't look at the cadence and just ride and then after a while glance at the computer, it's always in that range. I have to think and concentrate to keep it at any other rate.

    I'm curious why would anyone want to ride at a certain cadence (esp. if it is higher than what feels natural to them)? Why is everyone taught to ride like that over there?
     
  18. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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  19. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Exactly what I was just thinking today on my second 233 W interval.....damn calcium ions getting hung up again in the old recticulum :)
     
  20. Pendejo

    Pendejo Member

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    Exactly, Steve, that's the issue in a nutshell. So far we've had proponents of the three possible options: gear up with a lowered cadence, gear down with a higher cadence, or stay in the same gear and lower the cadence. (Well, there is a fourth option: quit.)

    One poster equated dropping down a gear with "quitting." I know it feels that way because we never want to do it, but you have to do what is required to survive.

    I don't have a powermeter on my bike but I've done a lot of experimenting during interval training, and it seems to me that when I've enjoyed as much of a certain gear as I can stand, no matter what I do next is going to result in a decrease in speed; but gearing up seems to result in a greater loss of speed than gearing down. But I can't prove it because these sort of "experiments" are just too uncontrolled. But when I read that quote in Krabbe's book, I started to wonder if I was missing the boat. I still am.
     
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