Sunday, July 12, 2009

Races and a little sprinting thought

No grocery money today.

The most eventful thing in my race was a bit of yelling that occurred on the back stretch leading up the the start/finish line early in the race. Since I was bored, I yelled out, "Why can't we be friends." And started singing that song. One of my teammates joined in from across the bunch and joined in.

Alas, no one else did. Though I'm pretty sure that I heard a few snickers.

That's about it for the races.

Felt good, but didn't have a shot to go for anything so I sat up. I'm going to play my hand differently from now on. I know how I work, and I'm going to stick to it. That's that.

Now for the sprinting thought:

I've had a few guys ask me what and how to sprint train so I figured I'd just shoot you all an email.

First, if you don't have a great sprint, don't waste your time trying to improve it too much as you'll make your other abilities suffer. Someone like Sebastian will be the first to tell you that he barely does any training for it. If he did, he'd interconvert some type 2 muscle fibers and end up losing some of his threshold and TT ability. Aka NOT worth it.


That being said I like doing 3 things.
1) Find a slight downhill that leads to a flat section or a slight uphill. Use this to get up to speed, lets say about 20 mph, or even 30ish mph depending on what you're going for. Sit in a gear you can spin at about 110-120 when you're seated and when the road starts to level up and you feel more resistance, then stand and gun it.
This helps with your leg speed and simulates what it's like to be sprinting at the end of a fast crit since speeds are often in the 35ish mph zone.

2) Find a slight uphill, and sprint up it in a gear or two harder than you would. Pull up on your bars and try to rip them off your stem.
This will train leg strength and utilizing your arms. You can add 100 watts to your sprint if you use your arms right, more if you're not as scrawny as I am.
Also, make sure everything is tight when you do this ;)

3) On the road, start from around 5 mph in your little ring in the middle of the cassette. Jump as hard as you can and spin as fast as you can without shifting. Try hitting 200 rpm. You're basically spinning like mad and feeling almost no resistance at the end. Stop after about 20-30 seconds.
This helps train leg speed and your 'jump'.


I'm not terribly familiar with doing these or being a part of a successful one, but there are 2 ways I think a leadout should work.

1) Designated leadout person isn't feeling great and thinks they're going to blow before the sprint, so instead, they take their sprinter to the front and then promptly blow up.

2) Team masses at the front with 3-4 people with 2-3 laps to go. One person pulls as hard as they can for 1 lap stringing out the field while shielding teammates behind them.
They pull off when they blow.
This continues till the last corner before the finish, or a little after depending on the course, when the last guy in front pulls off and the sprinter is relatively fresh for the finish.

Blowing up during a leadout

If you're trying to lead someone out and you blow or can't do it for whatever reason. I think it's a good idea to either flick your elbow furiously and/or give a thumbs down behind you. That way, you did what you can and helped and it's up to the person behind you to figure the rest out for themselves.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. My thoughts... I disagree about "don't waste your time trying to improve [your spring] too much as you'll make your other abilities suffer." I'm of the opinion that at our level (cat 4 on the way to 3), there's plenty of room for improvement across the board, and "train your weaknesses" definitely has its place.

    I like your sprint workout. The worst part about my move from the Bronx to Brooklyn one year ago was that I lost a perfect, perfect road for a sprint workout - deserted, slight downhill, well lit, looped back on itself. This year I've had to make do with short power uphill sprints (over and over) and legspeed sprints, relying on 39x17 and trying to get above 30 mph - around 180rpm if I recall correctly.

    Thanks to solid teamwork this year I've gotten the chance to be a part of some good leadouts. Your #1 is super helpful and easily forgotten sometimes. In Cat 4 racing it can be easier to have a teammate whose job is to move the sprinter up the outside than have the sprinter try to thread through a dynamic swirling pack.

    #2 definitely requires practice, and it also requires people who can hold speeds that will accomplish what a leadout should accomplish. In my limited experience a fast leadout accomplishes the following: discourages late attacks; controls the front and prevents surging; makes the field sprint smaller and faster and therefor safer; and finally, brings the sprinter to the endgame at optimal speed. I feel that the most important parts are preventing surging. A Cat 4 person-with-a-sprint might not be able to stomp the pedals from 35mph at 200m to go, but can still have a successful field sprint if, by the time s/he's in the wind, still is fresh and only has a few other people around capable of contesting the sprint.

    A few races ago, a teammate who had attacked with maybe 2 or 3 km to go late ran out of steam as the pack swallowed him with maybe 600m to go. He pulled to the curb and raised his hand. I thought that was a safe and visible way to step to the side of the race. Watching Team Columbia's leadout train from the helicopter shots in the Tour this year, it was exciting to see blown leadout men drop back and get swarmed and fall back through the pack, but if I were moving up inside the last kilometer in a park race or training crit I wouldn't want to have to dodge people who were dodging people moving backwards...