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How do you sprint?

burnthesheepburnthesheep Posts: 675
edited July 2017 in Road beginners
I'd say not quite at a year riding is still beginner territory. I've looked on youtube and things, but perhaps a real world response or technique from some folks here is in order.

I've for about 8 months now ridden and started training with power. Now I'd like to use it better. I feel I'm getting the climbing technique improved with practice, in or out of saddle. I feel I can pull on the bars and push at max power without a wobble or fall when climbing.

However, a few times I've tried to do a "finish line" style sprint of some sort I have some issues. I feel the need to use the bars the same way as climbing out of the saddle but that leads to a strong wobble and slowing the roll.

If I have to I can put out about 500 for about a minute based on power meter data from the training bike. And more if just a 200m sprint. But that is stationary in the workout room.

Try to put out the same effort on the road and it gets messy.

Your best thoughts to have when giving it the beans? Soft grip, strong grip, posture? It seems watching real riders do this on video they've got a definite rhythm rocking the frame to and fro for each stroke.


  • dannbodgedannbodge Posts: 1,152
    I wouldn't say my grip is any stronger than normal riding, but I'll be on the drops and head down as low as I can get it whilst being out the saddle.
    I'll rock the bike so that it's leaning towards the side where the pedal is nearest the floor, but only need to do this to get started. Once my cadence is up I don't need to rock the bike as much.

    I found the GCN video with Mark Cavendish to be pretty helpful:
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    You're over-thinking this: To sprint you really just pedal as hard and fast as you possibly can whilst trying to keep your frontal area to a minimum.
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,015
    Svetty wrote:
    You're over-thinking this: To sprint you really just pedal as hard and fast as you possibly can whilst trying to keep your frontal area to a minimum.

    As above ^^

    A sprint is just a maximal effort, probably no more than 10-20sec tops.
  • Svetty wrote:
    You're over-thinking this: To sprint you really just pedal as hard and fast as you possibly can whilst trying to keep your frontal area to a minimum.

    The issue is the way I do it puts me all over the place. I use the bars for leverage, and when I do that it gets a bit out of control.

    To pedal hard enough to use the fast twitch I have I feel I need to do that to put it all down. On a press sled or a squat rack there's only one plane or way to transfer the power. Spinning when you push down if you're able to push hard enough your body is going up. To keep that from happening I use the arm and bar to keep that power from being lost.

    I guess just more practice trying it will help.
    I'll watch the video.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,015
    If you use the bars for leverage, then you are possibly too over-geared. Sprinting is a lot easier if you are not yanking the bars from side to side.
  • Good call. You're totally right, I feel like the cadence is not as high as it should be. One day I should do some sprint intervals and perhaps play with the cadence and gear choice.

    I'm not sure what kind of rider I'm built up to be. I'm as average and boring as can be, 5' 10" and 165lb. As in if I'd be a better climber or sprinter or what. I don't really care. It's just for recreation, but I enjoy practicing each of the disciplines because it's fun.
  • Got a few tries last night on the ride. Was able to grab a top 10 overall and 1st for the year on a little sprint segment. It's fun to actually go fast. The higher cadence helped out a lot. I got up to about 85 to 90% of what I can put down on it.

    38 mph is fun (it loses a few feet down in this segment). :D
  • MozBikerMozBiker Posts: 77
    A common mistake is to go over geared. If you watch the likes of Cavendish and Ewan they got a super fast acceleration. And you can only accelerate fast if you are in the right gear.

    Are you sprinting in the drops? That helps a lot. I sometimes sprint on the hoods just for fun(and when I'm sprinting over the top of a hill segment).

    I find I rock the bike quite a lot in the beginning of the sprint then quieten down a bit. I still rock it a significant amount but not so much to kill speed.

    Just keep practising. Sprinting is a skill that takes practice to get right. But once you get your gearing sorted out, your bike rock rhythm and positioning, you should see your speed increase quite a lot.

    Remember to use what works for you. I find I can't go very low on my bike because then my power goes down. Try to get the most powerful and most efficient position for you and try to stay as low as you can go while still cranking out the watts
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,229
    Gear down to accelerate, would seem to be a golden rule. On the flat to get away a lot of folk thing they can do damage in the 52 x12 or 11, but in reality you’ll pull away better in a slightly lower gear ( one of my ex bmx racing friends spins at 150 rpm in 52 x16 for example and his jump is stupidly good)…. To stay fast try to go flat backed and head as near the garmin as possible. or as aero as possible.

    When sprinting up a steep incline, sometimes its best to be on the hoods… otherwise just the drops.

    Also it’d be interesting to see when you generate the most power.
  • philbar72 wrote:
    Also it’d be interesting to see when you generate the most power.

    I won't be able to without a meter on a bike. The fake Strava watts are all over the place.

    I train with power, but it's on a stationary Cycleops at the gym at my workplace. That isn't helpful.

    For now, just more practice. Maybe finish up my rides with one or two sprints each time.
  • Was on a beer crawl ride last night as part of my route. Did a few sprints for fun. Got one up to 35mph on the dead flat once. At my skill level, I'll take it. I'd get left by most skilled folks, but it's still fun to try.
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    It is an interesting topic. I tried an all out sprint on the wattbike, before injury, and it was a pretty horrible experience, i was basically fighting the contraption with my legs not knowing what to do and working 'in squares', i guess this shows that smooth technique would only come with a lot of practice.
    Recently watched Kwiato beat Sagan to finish line in slow motion, they seemed to be going in different manner; Kwiato stomping straight down with quad power at higher revs while Sagan's action seemed slower in higher gear, but much more 'round' and grindy
  • onionmkonionmk Posts: 101
    For me I find this works:
    1. Get in the drops
    2. Click down into a harder gear
    3. Get low on the front end (chest close to the top cap of the bike)
    4. Focus on pedalling as hard as you can while still maintaining a relatively smooth pedal stroke. Sometimes it's actually easier to do this in a higher gear than you're used to.
    5. Keep the front end of the bike as stable as you can. As you tug on the bars the bike will naturally move side to side I.e pendulum effect but try not to turn the bars as that's when you'll start to lose straight line efficiency.

    All the above is basically Caleb Ewan's sprinting style which I learnt from watching. Other, generally larger riders can often compromise some aerodynamics and efficiency simply because they're able to produce more power to compensate.
  • burnthesheepburnthesheep Posts: 675
    I think I'm getting the hang of it........both for short burst and longer efforts.

    I recently bought a power meter, it's been addicting to see the data.

    Very happy to see that amount of power with only 1 year riding. I'll also take it given I have never had a "leadout" for a sprint. I'd love to try that sometime. Instead of getting myself up to 34mph alone start out at "lower" watts at like 27mph then hammer it.

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