Monday, January 21, 2008

Nothing To Say

I don't have anything interesting to say today...but you might want to check this out:

My buddy Andy (who has a great rant on his blog today by the way) forwarded this to me a while back, it sums up the whole single speed thing in a very intelligible, technical way:

Cyclists: Single Speed Training for Mountain Bikers...

Single speed training isn't just for dedicated single speed racers but for all mountain bike racers interested in improving their limiters in a fun and specific way.

Using Power-Tap data collected from the same rider on both a gearie (geared MTB) and a single speed mountain bike (SS MTB) a quadrant analysis (QA) was generated to compare the demands of each. Each point in a QA plot shows the pedal force and pedal speed (think cadence). QA helps to identify the neuromuscular demands of a cycling genre. In this plot what's striking is the relative differences between SS MTB and geared MTB demands in terms of force and cadence.

Single speeders spend more time at higher and lower cadences than gearies. Gearies concentrate the majority of pedaling around a small, preferred cadence range, whereas single speeding requires cadences in a huge range, from 20s to over 130s. Single speeding puts you out of your cadence comfort zone and stimulates new abilities.

The force distribution differs significantly between both riding styles. Single speeders spend more time pedaling at higher force levels at lower cadences, i.e. they do a lot of mashing and a lot of standing. It's a matter of physics—to maintain a given power output if cadence decreases, pedal force must increase, and as cadence gets really low, pedal force must increase a lot. To single speed successfully you have to push a lot harder while pedaling slowly! The cadence and force characteristics of single speeding are similar to structured training drills such as spin-ups or force repeats. The single speed mountain bike is a valuable training tool!

Any hard tail mountain bike can be converted into a single speed. Everybody has one of these lying in their garage, right? Take off all the shifting stuff and put back on a handful of cassette spacers, a chain tensioner and a single speed cog. To go super low cost, take an old cog from a cassette and put it on backwards with the shift ramps facing the wheel.

The single-speed is the ultimate winter training machine. Sloppy conditions are hell on drivetrains. Single-speeds steamroll through mucky, wet conditions. Spend your time riding instead of fiddling with derailleurs, cables, shifters or cogs clogged with mud. Save wear and tear on your bling components for the race season.

Winter or the off-season is the time to improve your limiters so you break out into the new race season a level above the previous year. The single speed can target these limiters in a very specific way.

Torque: Low cadence/high force pedaling time improves low cadence power abilities, mimicking the goal of structured workouts such as force repeats or muscle tension sessions. Increasing leg strength on the bike is more specific to mountain bike racing than lifting weights in the gym and comes along with the added benefits of cardio and skill development.

Full Body Strength: Pedaling uphill, off-road out of the saddle with high force and low cadence is a full body effort. This type of training increases upper body and core strength in a riding specific position.

Improve Pedal Stroke: High cadence pedaling time improves pedal stroke replicating the goal of skills workouts such as spin-ups.

Bike Handling Skills: Single speeding enhances technical skill development with a simplified focus. No attention is spent on gear choice and there is no need to ease up on the pedals to plan a gear shift. This frees up all pedaling and thought time to conquer a technical challenge. Hammer straight into an obstacle with a plan of attack. Learn how to rail corners as losing momentum is costly. Learn to make the most of those out-of-the-saddle efforts, improving your ability to maintain traction and forward progress in the steep and loose stuff. Watch your balance improve with every ride.

Increase Attention: With only one gear there is less leeway to save technical mistakes made on the trail. Attention must be paid to the line ridden and correct momentum carried through. Getting it right the first time is the key to keep it rolling with no bailout gears on board.

Maximize Flow: Momentum killers such as braking, soft dirt, holes, bumps and rocks become bigger features to the single speeder with no big ring to power it out. The penalty of losing momentum is a strong motivator to learn the flow of the trail, maximize efficiency and conserve momentum. You'll learn how to keep your bike flowing along with less power. You will become a smoother rider.

Incorporate single speed training into your program this winter as a way to improve limiters in a manner most specific to cycling. The new challenge will add variety and simplicity in bad weather, but most of all you'll reap big training benefits while having a ton of fun out on the trails.

Lynda Wallenfels coaches and consults with mountain bikers. Her 2007 athletes boast two national championship jerseys and a podium finish at Worlds.


doug said...

That is really cool. Makes sense relative to what we're used to.

Pretty cool to see some actual numbers backing it up.

jeff said...

i'm sold