Automatic Endurance Training
That was my nickname in high school. Jk. But seriously. Words can hurt.
Anyway, I promised to explain quickness. Simply put, Quick is Power relative to size. Quick is the ability to deliver huge force in an instant. Deliver your maximum force in half the time, and congratulations, you're now twice as quick. Simple as that. Pretty easy, right?
Not so fast. The relationship between torque (effectively your strength), RPM and power is a linear one. If you have the torque to crack 1000w at the 50rpm mark, then delivering that same torque at 100rpm will give you 2000w. So just pedal faster, right? Well, sort of.
Generally when we ride, our energy systems work like a light dimmer, ramping up to our desired intensity, then holding steady. The light stays on, but the intensity depends on where we put it.
Peak power isn't a dimmer. It's a switch: it's on, or it's off. Taking the stored potential of your muscle and releasing it in an instant: BANG. That's quickness. So how do we train this?
Here's something to try: Small ring, midway up the cassette. Gearing in the 39x15-17 range. You're going to ease your leg speed up to the point you can just barely keep your hips from bouncing on the saddle. If that's 110rpm, that's fine. But try to work up to 130rpm or better. Your goal here is to avoid wasting any strength getting up to speed. You should still be in zone 1 when you hit your target RPM. When you get there, rip a sprint out of the saddle for maximum rpm. Drive that number as high as you can, and as quickly as you can. 150rpm? Good. 180rpm? Even better. 200+? Now we're talking. So why do we do this? Certainly you wouldn't sprint at 200rpm.
The idea is this: If you can keep the pedals from falling away from you at 180rpm, or 200rpm, you'll develop the necessary coordination to access a high percentage of your maximal force at 110rpm. And that's what this is all about: Coordination. Fair warning: You will not look cool sprinting at 180rpm.
Something else to try: roll along in an easy gear, not putting much effort into the pedals. Have a friend with you, riding just behind. Have them yell, GO (or Bang, or pineapple). The instant they trigger you, rip two hard pedal strokes: left, right. Then sit back down. That's it. If you've got an SRM or some other PM that will register that quickly, you can track your progress based on what readout you get. But even if you've got a super laggy Stages, or Pioneer, or even nothing at all, you can gauge your effort based on the top speed you hit. Rolling from 35kph, and you hit 40kph after 2 strokes, that's good. Hit 41kph next time, and you've improved. Again: it's all about switching on. All Systems Go.
Now I must state: this isn't training you to be fast. This is training you to be quick. You can have the explosive power to get from 0-50kph in 5 seconds, but if you never hit 60kph, you're probably never going to win anything. That said, if you go 0-50 in 5 seconds, you're probably a fucking mutant and will have no trouble dispatching the local category racers.
Now go push the pedals.