We took an in-depth look into why Nate’s sprints weren’t as powerful as they should be. With the help of slow motion and Pete’s insight, we found a few guiding principles we think will really help! Now if we can just get Nate to sprint again after the NDE with that dropped chain !
What has helped you become a faster sprinter? Any technique tips for everybody in this thread to try?
It’s finally here! Let us know if there’s something else you guys wanted us to cover. It’s really tough to get it all in one video, so I’m hoping that we do some more!!
First, thanks for breaking this down! Id love some advice/ direction on changing gears during the sprint! The issue I often have is that I start my sprint in a gear that feels tough, but then I end up spinning at 140RPM after 3-4 seconds. (i e. reaching a point where the gear is too low and I’ve topped out my rpm’s so my power stagnates.) Do I start in a higher gear? Change during the “build up”? Or just whenever I feel the need, but before hinting that RPM ceiling so there is no “leveling off” in the power build?
Definitely one of, if not the best, videos you folks have made to date!
Really illustrative, thanks-- watching the differences, it’s almost like the bike feels like it anchors down into the ground when Pete starts his sprint-- I’m kind of picturing it like pressing a wet bar of soap onto the floor, so the only place it can go is to spring forwards-- whereas when I sprint, I’m almost forcing the bike to be lighter. Good tips, thanks for putting it all together!
Would love to see pictures of Nates chainrings!
@J_K, the lower gear will give you more acceleration, but tops out earlier as you’ve witnessed. I’d suggest you accelerate in the gear you’re used to in the first phase (as Pete Morris describes the three phases), then ease slightly and change up a gear as a second phase. The last phase is an all out “blast” and bike throw to the line, total focus and concentration, like a caged Tiger being released.
The easing in the second phase is to prevent a gear malfunction -even if its only for a quarter of a second, even better is you have a sprint button using Di2 or similar.
Sprinting takes practise. Choose a suitable partner and nice quiet road with road signs or lamp posts as markers.
Also try starting the sprint at different distances to the line, as your sprint duration may be different to your partner and you need to learn what you can maintain. This is also useful to react when someone goes early and you need to hold back and keep in the draught to release your sprint at the optimum point - which should be pre-determined based upon the incline and wind conditions.
Its no wonder why its so difficult to get everything right at the top level.
I had that same slip happen that happened to Nate except I went down. Wasn’t too bad but I did have a really bad crash a year before snapping my chain and haven’t sprinted since, last 5 sprints = 2 crashes. That is not counting getting out of the drops and pedaling hard, imo that doesn’t make it a sprint. That was a year ago and I haven’t really gotten my sprinting mojo back.
Would love to hear more about this as well.
Are you talking about during a race or when practicing? Are you starting from a fast enough speed that represents your general starting sprint? For example in a 52x14, 80rpm starts you at 23.3mph and by 140rpm you are at over 40mph
How did I not see that sooner?! This happens during practice where I am noodling along and then starting my sprint. I guess I need to include a burst up to race pace BEFORE practicing my sprint. …there are times when it does happen during a race, though. Explanation below.
THIS! I get to play with more toys AND it might mean my “charlie brown” fingers aren’t reaching for the Di2 buttons. LOVE IT!
See, this is the problem - WHEN to shift or how to shift optimally.
It often seems like there is a lull in the race (crit) with half a lap to go if one team isn’t pushing the pace for a sprinter (which rarely happens in my races). Sometimes I’ll launch an attack here if I’m feeling like I can hold off the pack for that half lap (and sometimes that works- yay!). Sometimes, I take the opportunity to gather strength, but I find I often keep my RPM’s somewhat higher so I can accelerate quickly if there is an attack. Thus, I’m in an easier gear than I would sprint in. So, if I’m waiting for the attack, this is when the problems can arise. Maybe the answer is just, don’t spin like that. Maybe the answer is to time the gear change better (i.e. anticipate the sprint) and just practice it. What I find is that when I respond to someone else starting their sprint I spin out, then when I ease up to shift, I lose a spot or two.
Thanks for the advice, peeps!
I’ve been trying to work on my sprint technique lately and have been conscious of my form whilst executing Birling -3 over the past weeks. Today I tried moving my grip higher on the drops to pull the bars towards me as @Pete suggests. I also tried positioning my legs are just in front of my saddle. Overall it feels good, my back wheel is stuck on the road surface and not jumping around as it was before. But, as a consequence of shifting my grip, the drops hit my lower arm as I rock side to side. Is this normal? Should I stick my elbows out to prevent this?
It is possible for some riders, fits, and handlebar combos. It’s a result of the several parts of the handle bar shape (reach & drop, drop flare (straight or flared out), and top curve back from the hoods to the center, and all the other relations ships from the stem to your upper body position.
IIRC (from this or another video), Pete said wider elbow position was a goal of his. I think it helps with your issue, but also helps develop the control structure of your body in tension. I think you roll the grip out a bit and keep the elbows wider like a pushup for stability and control.
You stick out your elbows during a sprint to protect your handlebars from getting hooked also even if it is less aero
Hey @Nate_Pearson @Pete @Jonathan , I listened to the podcast and watched the video, then went out and added over 120w to my sprint PR! Thanks!
Is it normal to have front wheel lift below 45 km/h at 1100-1200 W? Is the speed just too low? The other day I had both front and back wheel lift within 2 seconds at 40 km/h (first back then front). Especially the front wheel lift is scary. My guess is that it doesn’t happen at higher speeds but I’m somewhat hesitant to go full out without some advice (hence the question).
Out of curiosity, what % improvement do you think is gained from just pure mechanics and form?
Take a guy who can hit 1,000 for 5 seconds with terrible technique and where’s he end up if he learns a proper technique?
This is fantastic thank you.
Given Nate’s near debacle it appears advisable to only practice this strategy outdoors?
Can one hone this technique on a trainer without risking limb & monetary investment(s)?
Similar for me, did a quick watch, then went for a ride a couple days later and did a quick sprint at the end of the ride. So many reasons why it wasn’t optimal, but setting up like @Pete was saying and thinking about deadlifts got me PRs for 1-3 second power, but much more importantly, I felt like I was driving the bike forward instead of fighting to keep my wheel on the ground. Lots more room to improve, but the immediate result was encouraging.