Winter decided to show up out of nowhere and put a damper on everyones outdoor riding. That’s ok, though as we are lucky enough to have the Dusika Stadium where it is always a comfortable 18 degrees. Don’t be fooled, though riding indoors has its downfalls. I always have to remember to bring my glasses, otherwise after 45 minutes my eyes start to hurt from the agitation caused by dust in the air, which you can’t see. Also, the air is always super dry and remembering to drink water helps keep cotton mouth at bay.
That’s enough of that, let’s get into what this #trackietuesday is actually all about… Gear Ratios! To be honest, I never really thought about gear ratios on my track bike until I started racing, because it was then that it became really apparent that something was wrong with what I was doing. After consulting some friends who were infinitely more experienced than me in this department; it was made extremely clear that though a track bike only has one gear, that is not what a track rider has. Now I have to state again, I am no pro. So, my choices of equipment are based on what I am actually capable of and what I wish I were capable of. A pro track rider can have chainrings ranging from 49 teeth to 64 teeth with one tooth increments. I will never have anything close to that amount of power to push gears higher than 54. Also, my bank account will never be able to afford that many chainrings, that would only potentially get used once in a blue moon. On the other hand, cogs are much more universal. Usually every track rider who is interested in training and who races at any level, would have a minimum of 5 cogs in their bag, something like 13t, 14t, 15t, 16t, 17t.
Now back to the spread of chainrings, realistically you’d find a suitable gear choice of about 4 chainrings for the majority of track events. In my case I have 49t, 50t, 51t, 52t chainrings. The reason why you want 4 chainrings at the front is because gearing is all about math (editors note: I am terrible at it but this is easy to understand) 1 tooth on a rear cog equals 3 teeth at the front chainring. For example 48x15 is almost exactly the same gear as 51x16, sounds easy enough, right?
though a track bike only has one gear, that is not what a track rider has.
The most important thing about gear choice is the cadence you are able to reach with the gear you have chosen. A good friend of mine and ex international track pro once told me “pedal faster not harder” granted this sounds a lot easier than it actually is.
“pedal faster not harder”
Cadence on the track is realistically the limiting factor to how fast you can go with a certain gear. For example, if I am riding the identical gear as a team mate and we are roughly the same size, but he is spinning 85rpms and I can spin 95rpms, that could be the difference of 39.7kph or 44.3kph. Now that is a big difference, is it not? I experienced this heavily at one of the Wiener Bahn-O-Rama races here in Vienna. It was a points race and there were some pro/elite riders in the field and I thought I needed a bigger gear to be able to keep up with their attacks the best I could. Well, I soon found out that I could not spin out fast enough to even get up to speed with the gear I chose. This poor gear choice lead to my race being over before it even started, but it was a learning experience none the less.
I have a fun online tool that I would like to share with you that a team mate of mine shared with me - This link from Rizelrechner.de shows all the information that you could ever want to know about gear choices. It’s a great tool to play around with at home when you are thinking of your next race, but you will have to commit some of the information to memory so you can use it on the fly on the track. This brings me to another really important piece of advice, try out as many gears as possible! If you are interested in racing on the track but don’t know what to ride for a certain event, ask someone you know who has been doing them longer than you for some advice. I have never met a rider who was not open to helping people learn about the smaller details of track riding. Once you have a bit of experience start experimenting during training efforts to see what you could potentially do in a race situation. As my father aways told me “if you don’t try, how do you know if you can or can’t do it.”
I have never met a rider who was not open to helping people learn about the smaller details of track riding.
Until next time #gofastturnleft