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Over the years, I have learned to use huge gears. My last race was 3 hours long and I stayed in the big ring, and the smallest 2-3 cogs the whole race. After the race was over, 3 people came to me and told me how strong a rider I was staying in those gears for so long. Problem is, I didnt win. Out of about 170 riders, I was around 25th. I noticed late in the race a few guys pass me in smaller gears. I personally feel like Im wasting energy "spinning" in a smaller gear. What could I do to improve this, if any? Maybe my huge gears wore down my muscular endurance? I dont know, Im baffled by my peerformance last weekend.
 

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spinning faster works the aerobic system more (ie the heart muscle), which doesn't fatigue as fast as, for instance, your quadriceps. Spinning faster is not necessarily more efficient but you'll have more endurance.

One suggestion might be to spin a little more early in the race, and save your muscles. Then when the end is near, like for you maybe an hour away, start hammering the bigger gears, and use that strength of yours.

I'm only a sport level racer, but I've done a lot of reading over the winter, and that's what I've learned. However, I'm very curious what more experienced racers have to say...

Oh yeah, a really cool anecdote is that every single modern (last 50 years?) hour world record holder has spun at cadences in excess of 100 RPM.
 

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It's about showing up.
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Different body types

tend towards different gears. I know that is a bit broad but it is loosely correct. My guess is that big gears are your style and fit your kind of muscles. It might be worth your while, though, to find a place in your workouts to use a gear or two lower than your norm. While that currently feels weird that will change. In the mean time you may find a new source of power extended into endurance.
But twenty-fifth is not so bad.....
 

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Different riders, different styles.

Angry Dad said:
Over the years, I have learned to use huge gears. My last race was 3 hours long and I stayed in the big ring, and the smallest 2-3 cogs the whole race. After the race was over, 3 people came to me and told me how strong a rider I was staying in those gears for so long. Problem is, I didnt win. Out of about 170 riders, I was around 25th. I noticed late in the race a few guys pass me in smaller gears. I personally feel like Im wasting energy "spinning" in a smaller gear. What could I do to improve this, if any? Maybe my huge gears wore down my muscular endurance? I dont know, Im baffled by my peerformance last weekend.
In road racing we have the great examples of Jan Ulrich vs. Lance Armstrong. In the hillclimb stage at last years tour, we saw Lance dancing on the pedals at around 95 - 100 cadence. Against that was "Der Kaiser" sitting back in an aero tuck just pounding huge gear at like 75-80 The man's a freeking diesel. Lance won.

I trust Jan to have tested himself and being a top level pro to have had a team of trainers, coaches and white-smock science types test to assure that FOR HIM pounding those manly gears was the best approach (again) FOR HIM.

Now you, on the other hand... You aren't a pro with decades of experience and a team of coaches and bioscience geeks. Try cultivating a smooth efficient spin and see. At the worst you'll find no advantage for most of your riding but will pick up a few RPM at the top end and improve your sprint. Most people will do better with a smaller gear and a faster spin. Lance is an extreme example, but so is Jan. And you seem to be running a bigger gear than he is.

Try and see. Obviously you have tremendous leg strength to pull the gears you are. Learning to spin won't hurt that, so you've got nothing to lose.

Ron
 
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