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Coach Mark Tyson's Advice

Part I ~ Leg Speed
[Set up a fixed gear bike for these exercises.]

Let's look at weakness number one - leg speed. The top sprinters in the world race at 155-162 rpm. There is essentially no variation to this rule. They all ride 48x14 or 49x14. They all go between 10.2" and 10.5" for 200 meters.

What happens when a cat 3 rider rides 48x14 at 140 rpm? He goes 11.8". Hurray, he just broke 12.0" for 200 meters! The problem is, he will never go much faster. In order to be faster, our cat 3 has to pedal faster. How is he going to learn to pedal faster? One thing to do is put him on a 45x15 and tell him that the gear doesn't move up until he pedals 160 rpm just like the big boys. Well that will give him a time of 11.8"! Then we let him go up to 46x15 and as soon as he pedals 160 rpm he is now going 11.5"! This is progress. On the other had, if he stays on the 48x14, he will probably never pedal faster than 140 rpm or 11.8".

So, how do you get leg speed? If you have rollers and an rpm counter on your computer, you are ready to start. While riding the rollers, do a 10 second sprint. How many rpm did you get? 150 or so? Not bad. Do it again. You can do it all day... it doesn't take anything out of you. 155 on your second try. Good. You are training your muscles to fire faster. The faster they fire without load, the faster they will fire with a load. The fastest pedaling men can do about 250 rpm and the women are not far behind. Do this exercise a couple of times a week. It will really help. Another leg speed of season workout is downhill fixed gear sprints. Get a fixed gear bike together. Remember to leave the brakes on. (Don't use your track bike) Go to the top of a 200-400 meter not-too-steep hill with decent rollout at the bottom and sprint down.

"Ohhhhh...my legs are coming off." No they aren't. Use a 68-80" gear. When you are pedaling too fast, gently apply the brakes. Try again. By the third or fourth time down you will begin to smooth out, and you will get a new sensation in your legs. Do this once or twice a week. The last thing to do to get leg speed is use a smaller gear than normal on your road rides... particularly when riding with other riders. If your comfortable at 110 rpm, ride at 120. In a few weeks, when your comfortable at 120, go on up to 130. When those little efforts or sprints come up, try to use a lot smaller gear than everyone else.

That's weakness number 1.  Give it a try.

Mark Tyson

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