Training on the Fixed Wheel

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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niceonetom
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by niceonetom

Anyone doing any winter training on a fixed gear?

Due to some crack-related chain-stay unpleasantness I am without my road bike for a while so I'm having to do more training on my humble cannondale capo. I have a TT bike too but I find it hard to do long steady mileage on that - it's really better for tempo or harder efforts.

I'm trying to figure out what kind of gearing I would be best using. Spin spin spin? Or HTFU and stick a big gear on, grind my way over those rises? Strength or souplesse?

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fettling
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by fettling

I used a Kona Band Wagon for the majority of my winter training last year. I found the stock gear of 42x16 worked pretty well for most rides. Had to swap the wheel round to singlespeed for hilly group rides, otherwise I would be miles behind at the bottom of some descents. The gear can get a bit spinny at speed though and you find yourself sprinting onto a wheel and sticking really close on descents to avoid pedalling.
The bike was also a bit limiting in the early spring when I wanted to start doing intervals.

This year I am using the same bike but mainly singlespeed - a bit less of a killer after 70 miles!
Also plan to get a set of rollers when the weather gets icy to give me a propper workout at home.
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HillRPete
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by HillRPete

Not what you asked for, but would a higher stem on the TT bike be an option, for a more relaxed position allowing for longer miles?

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niceonetom
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by niceonetom

I've done a couple of 100k+ rides on the fixie now. I have to say I feel it in the legs significantly more than the same kind of spin on the road bike. I'm using 48x17 which I suspect might be a little big. I feel like I'm spending too much time turning the cranks at lass than 80rpm (hey, I'm trying to build the base at the moment so I'm not exactly setting any speed records). I might try 48x18 next time. Spin, spin, spin (until the hills anyway).

I certainly won't be using it for club spins. There's no way I'd be anything other than a liability every time the road heads downhill. Maybe my technique will improve as I do more but at the moment I'm getting a bit bouncy in the saddle once I get above maybe 55kph.

As for adapting the TT bike, well, it's more the saddle position than the bars that's the issue - I'm right up against what the commisaires would allow. It's fine once you're laying the power down but when riding Z2 or whatever there's too much weight on the saddle for the undercarriage to bear.

Oh, and I've picked out a nice new road frame so soon this fixie thing will be voluntary rather than being the only option. I think I'll keep it up mind you. The new bike frame will likely be too precious to use on all but reasonably fine days.

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stella-azzurra
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by stella-azzurra

I ride a fixed with 53x18. That gear is good for flat and moderate hills between 1%-5% since this is where I live. I do use it on shorter steeper hills as well. The thing about the fixed and hill climbing is that it is easier than one might think in that the momentum of the pedal stroke helps you move forward for the next stroke. Ideally one would have suitable cogs for the course they are about to do. The 53x18 or a gear that yields similar gear inches is ideal in keeping 90 rpm (the most efficient cadence) for rolling hill routes. But ultimately it's the rider that determines the gear they want to use. I suggest you take a look at a gear calculator and experiment with a few gears on the road bike and find one that you use most for the given road you ride.
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euan
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by euan

Its good for building your base and pedalling technique. Overall I would advise you do flatter routes and specifically go for a slightly spinnier gear. You'll be better for it in the end.
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Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez
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by Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez

As Fettling, I had a 42x16 too.
Spinning on the flat and, if not really low rpm, was quite demanding for off-season climbing.

BTW, have a question. I was using a road bike with the rear derailleur as chain "tensionner" but I felt that it was not as good as a track bike, because when I was trying to use "engine brake", the chain was losing tension. Not as direct as a real fixie.

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euan
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by euan

You really shouldn't be riding fixed gear with any sort of tensioner and if you are most definitely not braking by resisting the pedals as that will cause the chain to come off.

Get a wheel built up with a White Industries Eno hub.
"Step forward the climber and all those who worship at the altar of lightness" - R. Millar

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

niceonetom wrote:Anyone doing any winter training on a fixed gear?


Yes, its called "track cycling". :mrgreen:

But seriously, some of the best training/racing you can do, at least in terms of intensity.
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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

I used to train a lot of a fixed-wheel rig. After a while I noticed that despite learning my legs into a smooth pedaling technique, I also acquired a "lazy stroke" and spoke to a coach about this.

He recommended single-speed w/computer instead of fixed-wheel. The single gearing forces use of a smooth pedal stroke as necessary for the terrain (paying attention go to the telemetry, keeping a steady speed, hr, whatever) and forcing the legs to adapt to a full stroke all the way through the turn of the crank. Because a fixed-set up has the cranks turning with the motion of the bike, there is a tendency for a rider to un-consciously relax their stroke prematurely (especially on the upwards portion of the stroke).

I switched to a SS set up. Much, much better - it allowed me to take on all the terrain available to me (including massive hills and descents) while forcing a solitary gearing. I got rid of that 'lazy stroke' as well.

Just an alternate perspective on this.
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Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez
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by Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez

You are perfectly right and that makes sense, the inertia/momentum of a fixie forces you to pedal but lot of time without producing 'torque' all the way.
And it is safer in downhill curves.

PS: i'd like to try Powercranks, must be a torture
PS2: Agree on the track thing. Makesgreat road racer. But you have to got one in the neighborhood.

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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

I'll note that I started out training with the Fixed-Wheel (Fixed Gear) set up, but switched over to single-speed when it was clear that I had acquired the lazy stroke but already benefitted from learning the smooth motion with the fixed.

By the way, that coach said that essentially this will happen to everyone riding fixed who is not specifically training for track racing, but a lot of people don't catch it or realize that they have stopped benefitting from the fixed wheel training.
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niceonetom
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by niceonetom

Interesting input. Thanks all.

I've got a new road bike now so I'm not obliged to stay on the fixie. Obviously I'm a little precious about the new steed though, so I don't want to spend the whole winter thrashing it across the rutted roads of rural Ireland - the fixie will still be getting a lot of use I think.

My endurance weekend spins will still be on the geared bike but all of it in the 39 - I'm under instructions to keep my gearing choice very narrow (39x15 to 39x17) so spinning on the flat and grinding on the steeper climbs. The fixie is an even more exaggerated form of that kind of riding I guess. I'll be careful to not get too used to the momentum pulling me through the deadspot and end up with "lazy stroke".

As for track racing, well, our one and only track is outdoor and sees no action at all this time of year. I've done the accreditation and am licensed to race but have never bothered. I'd like to get into it but it doesn't really mesh with my other goals for the year.

by Weenie


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