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HELP! I CAN"T SPRINT TO SAVE MY LIFE!!(25 posts)

HELP! I CAN"T SPRINT TO SAVE MY LIFE!!ebs
Apr 16, 2002 8:05 PM
Raced today, was in 3rd position with 20-30m to go, finished 9th(it was my 1st race,happy about that).When I attempted to sprint there was nothing happening.I'm not big 145lb nor am I young 40yo but those legs would NOT listen to me. HELP.Any sound advice would be greatly appreciated.
re: HELP! I CAN"T SPRINT TO SAVE MY LIFE!!eschelon
Apr 17, 2002 5:43 AM
Last year, in my peak I was able to sprint at just under 40mph...it's still early right now, but I can't seem to break the 31mph right now...but as the season continues, I definitely will be back to full form.
what's the problem?RideLots
Apr 17, 2002 6:32 AM
Is the problem power, leg speed, strategy, or just running out of oxygen?

If I'm not pegged already, I can sprint pretty darn fast. If I jumped too early and I'm gasping for air 200 yards before the finish, I won't have much of a sprint. See what I mean? First thing to do is determine the limiting factor. Do you jump to early? Are you drafting as long as necessary, but not too long? Are you using the right gear? Are you coming out of the saddle and exploding? Are you too tentative in a group? Are you just not a sprinter, and need to win some other way?

I'd try this, first. Go find some back road with no traffic and no wind. Warm up thoroughly. Then do some sprints with thorough rest in between. How fast can you go? If you are only hitting low 30's, you need to work on the sprint power and probably different tactics, too.

Sprint can certainly be improved with practice. I'd practice it at least once a week, even if it's just a few sprints. Do them with leadouts and solo. On group rides, determine some "hot spots" or sprint points, like city limit signs. Practice sprinting there. You'll get to learn how long you can sprint, what gear to use, be more comfortable with a lead out, etc.

I can make much, much more power at high rpms than low. While you make a lot of torque in big gears and low rpms, power is likely lower. Power gives you top end. I'd work on getting your sprint over 100 rpms, at least.

Try it and see what happens. Even if you are not a genetic sprinter, you can improve the abilities you do have.
Low 30's is slow?hrv
Apr 17, 2002 7:36 AM
Low 30's doesn't cut it in a sprint? What speed do you usually sprint at? Is 40 or so not out of the question, for say cat 3 or 4 (flat, no wind)?

I'm lifting weights (3x/week) and it seems to be helping increase my power but my sprint is also lacking. Should I concentrate on sprint drills on the bike more?

Thanks,
hrv
Low 30's is slow?eschelon
Apr 17, 2002 8:06 AM
My feeling is that sprint drills are very specific training and must be used on dates set aside for only that: sprinting. Sprinting is not interval training and vice versa. My sprint training is 15-20 seconds all out effort where my legs are screaming in pain after the first 5 seconds of the effort and then after the 20 seconds my lungs are catching up to me and in addition to the screaming burning sensation in my legs, then my lungs yell at me that I'm not supposed to do this stuff to my body by hurting me more.

At the end of your sprinting drill day, your legs will be swollen from the "pump" (body building term) and won't be able to function normally from the pain.
How is that different from intervals?TomS
Apr 18, 2002 7:52 AM
I'm just starting to read about training plans and stuff like that, and what you described sounds like how I thought you should do intervals. So what's the difference? Do you only do it once? Or are intervals not really a 100% all-out effort?

Also what's your cadence while sprinting? I'm trying to practice faster cadence, and can do around 115rpm for several minutes at a time without a problem in a low gear, but when I try to sprint I probably only hit around 80-85 rpm in a big gear, somewhere around 30-35 mph. I guess that's what I need to work on for sprinting then, huh? (haven't actually raced, ever, just trying to get faster)
How is that different from intervals?eschelon
Apr 18, 2002 9:46 AM
To explain this...I am going to stay away from the subjective numbers of percentages in explaining intervals and sprint drills because in this context they are meaningless.

Intervals are all out efforts but they are "rationed" out by allowing yourself to do top effort for a given amount of time and effort short of you passing out from the effort...in my case, I do my intervals at 1 minutes at top speed and effort with very little or no lowering in effort or power or speed over the course of the time I set for doing my intervals.

Sprinting on the other hand are efforts that I cannot sustain for more than ~20 seconds...where my ultimate aim is to attain top speed and try to keep on accelerating...otherwise if I am only decelerating during that effort I am 1) finding my limits; 2) running out of power and steam and need to further work on attaining higher top end speed.

As far as finding that perfect cadence for maximum sprinting, I can't even guess what mine is...this perfect cadence is moot even though I have a cadence set up on my bike because if you are going all out for ~20 seconds on your bike, the last thing you should be doing is looking at your computer at speeds +30mph!!!! Your eyes better be looking where you are going...lest you risk life and limb...or end up a mentally challenged retard eating food through a straw for the rest of your life.

I'd say follow the advice from one of the previous poster...where he/she said to find a nice stretch of lonely road less traveled on and try to experiment with different gears and see which gives you the best speed/power for each peddle revolution...which by the way is a good idea that I will try soon.
yupRideLots
Apr 17, 2002 8:13 AM
I've been in many races and group rides in which we were at 31 or so well before the sprint. Heck, Pro's time trial faster than than for an entire hour (that's not too relevant, I realize). I can top 36 when I'm doing almost exclusively ultra training.

I think you at least need to get it over 35 mph. Understand that it's not a linear scale to go faster. Each additional mph is much, much more difficult.

A contender Cat 3, I'd estimate, would be able to hit 40 with a good lead out, and maybe 38 solo. Understand that the lead out is vitally important. An otherwise powerful sprinter might blow up before hitting potential top speed unless he can be in the draft as long as possible.
uhh, sorry to break it to yalonefrontranger
Apr 17, 2002 7:14 PM
but low 30's won't cut it in a Women's Cat IV sprint. My current max sprint speed is in the 36-38 mph range, good enough to win primes if I'm sneaky, but not good enough for a finale. My top speed last year was touching 40.

Do some speedwork too. Either motorpaced or downhill in a tailwind at 40+ mph. You can only go that fast by learning to go that fast, if that makes sense.
uhh, sorry to break it to yaThoth2
Apr 18, 2002 11:59 AM
I'd take issue with this. A couple of weeks ago
my men's cat 4 field was lumped in w/ a field of women
3's and 4's none of which kept up in the field sprint.
I was in said sprint and I hit 35 and passed several
men. Either we had some weak women, or you're a serious
beast for a Cat 4, man or woman.
Thoth2
You can't compare too muchRideLots
Apr 18, 2002 12:46 PM
It is difficult to compare or make generalizations, and then expect them to fit every case.

Perhaps the women had been surging and reeling in breaks for the 20 miles before the finish, so they were all blown up? Maybe it happened to be a particularly weak field that day.

Nonetheless, Cat IV women who can hit 38-40 mph are really fast.
want proof? come race in Boulder (nm)lonefrontranger
Apr 19, 2002 4:24 AM
want proof? come race in Boulder (nm)Thoth2
Apr 19, 2002 5:43 AM
No, I don't want proof. I don't take issue w/ your particular sprint prowess. I'm sure you'd outsprint my skinny legs(tm) any day. My post was intended more to provide dude w/ a different experience. I have to say that I am dismayed at the speed you guys keep quoting, though. I'm not a sprinter by any means, but I usually do pretty well in the "town line" variety sprints w/ my club and my college team, but I've never gotten close to 40 in any sprint (well, I hit 42 2 weeks ago in Knoxville - the finish was on a flat about 100m after a descent so I was carrying a lot of momentum, so that doesn't count, I guess - and some guy pipped me right at the line!). I'm usually not in a position to mix it up w/ the big thigh crowd at the end of races, so I'm not such a good authority I guess. I've been in the 10-15th places this year, and 35 will pass some people in that range, in this area of the country. I guess I'll stay away from Colorado.
On a constructive note, I've got a list of average max. power outputs by category and gender somehwere. I'll plug it through my little formula and let everybody know what speed it translates into. Obviously, this will only tell you how fast you can go by yourself, w/o a leadout, on a flat, but it's probably a reasonable metric by which to judge one's progress.
Thoth2
In the 4s I regularly hit low 40s in a field sprint...BipedZed
Apr 19, 2002 5:31 AM
and didn't win a single one. People can pedal their bikes really fast here in Colorado.
In the 4s I regularly hit low 40s in a field sprint...Thoth2
Apr 19, 2002 7:27 AM
I'm sure they can ride fast in Colo. I'll bet about 95% of the 4's would kick my butt. However, I think we need to compare apples to apples in order to help our sprint-poor friend. Although "MPH" is an objective measure, there's more to it than a straight comparison of numbers. I did a little research to find out the power output required to hit 41 in a sprint a sea level, 5000ft, and 9750ft. You'd be surprised at the vast difference in power required to hit said speed, to wit:

sea level: 1028.4 watts = 41mph
5000 ft: 849 watts (-179.4W) = 41mph
9750ft: 774.3 watts (-254.1W) = 41mph

If you reverse the numbers to see speed given power at sea level you get:

37.1 mph (@774.3 Watts)
38.3 mph (@849 Watts)
41mph (@1028.4 Watts).

Obviously, these still don't get you to the low 30's, but they're much closer. So, its much more useful to compare power output than MPH, however, its not as widely observable.

All of this is assuming a couple of things: 80kg rider and bike, 0 degree slope, normal frontal area, smooth asphalt road, and that the rider's maximum power output doesn't vary much w/ altitude. This last assumption may be somewhat suspect, but I'm pretty confident that someone who trains at, say 5000ft, while able to put out more power at LT (aerobic) when transplanted to sea level than someone who trains all the time at sea level, will get much less of a benefit in the max power area (anaerobic). So, where is the guy who posed the original question? Low 30's might not get you anywhere in Colorado, but it probably does better where the air is thick. What we can do is find out where he is, how much he weighs, at what altitude you guys are, and myself, his speed etc., and we can figure out what his (approximately) power output needs to be to be a comparable sprinter. I'd be happy to run the numbers.

Just for S&G's, my 35.8 mph would be 38.33mph at 5000ft (if I could breathe!) I need to put in some work!
Thoth2
looking back at my journals from Ohiolonefrontranger
Apr 19, 2002 5:29 PM
For giggles, maybe you can do the wattage conversions here:

* Cincinnati, OH April 1998, won field sprint in Women's 3/4 crit @ max speed of 35.5, this was on flat ground in a sheltered situation (no wind).

* Columbus, OH July 1997, won Women's Open State Crit field sprint @ 33mph on false flat after a block-long climb that is approx 7%.

* Training journal, Cincinnati, OH June 1999, noted max speed on flat stretch at 36.5mph, noted because it was personal max for the season.

So the bottom line is that after a year and a half acclimitization, I'm ultimately creating less wattage @ altitude (5300' in Boulder). It's pretty well known that you gain better cardio at altitude, and ultimately sacrifice your power; this is why the elite athletes do the oxygen tents to simulate sleeping at altitude while they train @ sea level.

My boyfriend's average sprint speeds (Cat 4) from Ohio ran in the low to mid 40s.
looking back at my journals from OhioThoth2
Apr 22, 2002 4:53 AM
Ok. I'll do the conversions this morning. I'm thinking maybe I should add a "max speed" or "sprint speed" deal to my training log.
One of these days maybe I'll see 40 in an unaided flat sprint. Does anybody know who does leg muscle transplants?
Thoth2
LFR Power in CinciThoth2
Apr 22, 2002 5:24 AM
I've run the numbers, but I didn't have all the salient info about you - specifically your weight. So, I guessed from what I know of other fast women riders.
I guessed that you weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 125lbs, and ride a bike of 20lbs. If these are very wrong, let me know and I'll do it again. 5lbs either way won't make the numbers too different. 6, well, that's significant ;->

Anyway, Cinci is 272m above sea level for a avg air density of 1.156kg/m2. You and your bike weigh 66kgs. Normal asphalt road, 0 slope (except where indicated), and normal frontal area. Power ratings in () are the required power figures to get to the same speed at altitude (Boulder, 1600m above sea level, .9844 avg air density). For the false flat sprint, I did it for 0-2% of incline.

SO, a 66kg rider/bike combo going:

35.5mph = 635.6W (547.4W)
33 mph = 515.6 W, 0%; 612 W , 1%, 708.3W, 2% (444.8, 541.1, 637.5W).
36.5 = 688.3W (592.5W).

So, there you have it. BTW, for the 635.6 W sprint where you'd be going 35.5, I'd be going 35.3 at the same output (81kg rider/bike combo). If you throw a slope in there, the difference becomes very dramatic.
Thoth2
cool, but you'll have to re-figure the weight- I'm a fat@$$lonefrontranger
Apr 22, 2002 10:53 AM
I'm 150 lbs. now, and was well into the 160's in Cincy.

My bike weight in Cincy was ~ 19 lbs, so that's fine :-)

My current crit bike weighs just a tick under 15 lbs with the fancy wheels on.

I recall that the 33mph slight uphill sprint was a really hard effort, coming as it did after a short nasty climb where the whole field went like a pack of screaming lunatics.
LFR Power in CinciThoth2
Apr 22, 2002 12:59 PM
I hear ya. I started racing (again) after a long layoff (like 10 years) when I went back to lawschool. I joined the team weighing 225lbs. You want to talk about a fata$$, that's a fata$$. Climbing was not my strong suit. Anyway, I'm down to 159. 148 is the goal.

So, I've re-figured the power outputs given a 165lb rider (you said "well into the 160's") and a 19lb bike. I took those power outputs and applied them to your new, svelte frame and bike for a predicted sprint speed, at altitude. Let me know how close it is to your observed speed. (I'm sure your power output hasn't stayed the same. Max pwer should have gone up a bit.)
BTW, awesome to get out there in the muck this weekend. I chickened out last year in the rain and sleet at App. St.

35.5= 646.6W
33 at 1% = 647.9 (wow, that's close the first one!); at 2% = 770W
36.5 = 699.7W

At Boulder, with new bod and new bike:

646.6W = 37.51mph (ok, so you do hit upper 30's in a sprint. That shows me!)
647.9 = 37.53 (flat)
699.7 = 38.55 mph.
You are officially a speed demon.
If you actually put out 770W (the uphill sprint) you could hit: 39.886mph.

Now, if you lived in Cinci still your fastest sprint would have been 36.7mph (37.84 at 770W). A bit faster than when you weighed 165, but weight matters way way more uphill as you probably already know.
I'm still looking for my chart of avg max pwer outputs and I'll post them when I unearth it.
If I ever get to Boulder, I'll be sure to stay clear of a head to head w/ you!
Thoth2
Get on the track!!!brider
Apr 17, 2002 7:30 AM
NOTHING will get your sprint up to par faster than racing on the track. Not only strength and spinning, but tactics as well. GET THEE TO THINE LOCAL VELODROME!
Coordination and gearing is criticaljustina
Apr 17, 2002 1:12 PM
I'm a pretty decent sprinter (running) and have a lot of leg strength. Translating this strength into power on the bike took some experimenting with gearing, position and coordination. After just a few sprint workouts I've gotten my top end from just under 30 to nudging 40 when I've got a lead out. That came purely from not trying to mash a huge gear (lugging the engine so to speak, peak power in your car is at the upper limit of the RPM range, you're just an organic engine), learning to use the full pedal stroke out of the saddle, and finding the best position to make use of the otherwise detrimental upper body mass I have. Industrial parks on the weekends are a great place to find a flat 1/2 mile stretch with no traffic to practice. Tinker around to find your sweet spot. Once you've got the form down see where you are. Then you can start in earnest on the repetitive sprint training to improve anaerobic conditioning. Basketball is a great (and fun) crosstrain for sprinting.
Jump emLeGrimper
Apr 17, 2002 4:02 PM
Follow all the above and 3rd wheel will turn into first place.

For me the key is when to let it fly (as discussed), timing and jumping so hard to destroy the morale of the oppression and then winding it up to a peak just before the line. This distance is personal but not always in your control.

Concentrate on explosive power both on the bike and in the gym. (The track is the home of it all). Those first few pedal strokes when you decide to go are the key to getting the jump. If you have friends in the bunch a leadout will make all the difference but watch hangers on.

Most of this is experience but sounds to me like you are doing great so early. If in doubt train it......train, train, train.

Le Grimp.
Jump embikenraider99
Apr 18, 2002 10:44 AM
I practice the sprinting. I use somthing similar to build ups in track: Take a warm up, then use markers (telephone polls) to gauge. Sprint past 3 or 4, cool down 8, sprint past 3 or 4 cool down 8. I'm still only a mediocore (sp?) though, but sometimes that's good enough to win once you get out of the hills. What I liked was the suggestion of using the Velodrome. That is so true! Sadly, I've not taken advantage of the one here in Houston, but, my friends in the pack keep on telling me I'll get better by riding it. Good suggestion! No mention of crits though? Any particular reason? I think that would also help because of the constant changing of speeds.
Sprint DrillsVeloflash
Apr 21, 2002 12:47 PM
Most important to know your sprinting cadence range. Get a computer that shows cadence for training. Use your race computer highest speed (assuming from the sprint), convert it to cadence and always note the gear you are in when you finish.

You should always separate components of sprint training. Contributors who relate they sprint for 20 seconds are not working on developing top end speed. This should be done on a trainer or after coming down a hill to pick up speed normally applied to jump acceleration to a flat where the effort is applied for 6-8 seconds. Full and total recovery between efforts - 5-10 minutes. It is important not to waste effort in accelerating from a slow speed when that effort can be applied to the top end speed.

Jump training. Using the hill again to build the speed up to the usual bunch speed before the jump, jump hard for 6-8 seconds. rest 5 - 10 minutes.

Speed endurance. Preferably on a trainer. Select gearing and resistance that equates to your sprint cadence and sprint hard for 12 seconds 48 seconds rest (or when HR levels to 140bpm). Start with 5 reps separated by 5 minutes rest. Build to 10 reps over time.

If you sprint in the saddle try and make yourself as slippery as possible with a flat back and dropping your elbows. It is worth one or two mph. Do all your sprint training in this postion to adapt your power.

Keep sprint training separate, specific and only when fresh except when you sprint after a long ride to get your body used to sprinting whilst near fatigued. Need only to be done once per ride.