I chatted with a number of you last night about when we should do sprint workouts. The concensus was fairly unanimous that we should do the sprint workouts on Thursdays at 10 am. This will be the plan for October and November. Location is Coyote Hill Road which is just off Page Mill. From campus, go South on Foothill to Page Mill. Turn right on Page Mill. The very first left turn is Coyote Hill. At the start of Coyote Hill, there is a gradual downhill which we use for downhill spinouts. There are a few hundred meters of flat road. After the flat section, it goes uphill. We seldom go far up the hill but we often use the start of the hill for added resistance in sprint efforts. It is an excellent location as the road surface is really good, there are 2 lanes each way and there is very little traffic. The plan is to start the workout at 10 am. I will ride from home and won't be going through campus. If you arrive at 10:05 expect to have missed the first effort.
The purpose of the workout is to improve your sprinting ability. Sprinting is unique in that it primarily uses the ATP-PC energy system. In this system, ATP which has been stored right near the muscle, is delivered to the muscle. The total amount of ATP is fairly small and will run out in 10 to 20 seconds but the delivery rate is very high. The limit on power output is usually muscular strength. The way to make you stronger is to do 100% max efforts with fairly complete recovery between efforts. If we did absolute max efforts and maintained it for 20 seconds, recovery would take about 20 minutes. This is actually how track sprinters usually train. To reduce the recovery time, we will do max efforts but will keep them closer to 10 seconds so recovery time is reduced to about 5 minutes.
The majority of your bike training will be aerobic and it should be. Of the events you contest, the time trial is almost 100% aerobic. Getting to the end of the road race or criterium with the leaders will not happen without really good aerobic capacity. But, at the end there will be a sprint where the placings are determined. A rider who was just hanging on and never hit the front may win if his sprinting ability is the best of those left. We find that training is energy system specific. If you only train your aerobic system, it is the only one that will improve. Your other energy systems will get worse. There is a 3rd system called the lactic acid system that is anaerobic like the ATP-PC system. It produces power for 1 to 3 minutes. Training it is really painful and we won't for now.
There will be a number of exercises we will do. I may not decide the specifics until just before the workout and may alter the workout after we've started. But, all efforts will be really short. Dealing with sprinting form needs to be addressed. In general, as power output increases, pedalling cadence should also increase. The optimum cadence for sprinting may be uncomfortably fast for some of you. Track sprinters often finish at 150 rpm. The first drill we will do is downhill spinouts in a small gear. We will do some seated and some standing which means out of the saddle. There is some debate as to whether you should sprint seated or standing. You can get more force to the pedals standing at lower cadences. At some point you are probably better of sitting or shifting to a higher gear. Shifting during the sprint is questionable. You often lose about a bike length by the time you get power back on. being seated is more aero and you can sprint longer. I am primarily a track sprinter and I tend to sprint seated. On a track bike, you can't shift and you are on a turn about 2 thirds of the time. Both of these factors encourage seated sprinting. If you do these workouts often enough, you should be able to determine what works for you.
The 2nd main exercise will be uphill sprints. We'll roll into the hill at about 12 mph and accelerate for at least 10 pedal revs. You need to remember to count. These will be done in small and bigger gears and standing or seated. Early on we won't use big gears. After a few workouts, we will do group sprints. In these, we usually use the big hill to help us get up to speed. Coyote Hill is a really good place for everything except leadouts. There isn't enough flat road. There are other places we can use but that will be November so I'm not concerned about that yet. For the first workout, I expect to do 2 downhill spinouts and then 4 to 6 uphill sprints. The workout will get longer but that is enough for the first one. Arrive reasonably well warmed up and do a cooldown after if you have time.