Use Your Gears
I can’t help but laugh when I hear people say silly things like “I never use my small ring because I live in Texas” “I’m too fast for a compact crank,” or “you can’t compete with junior gears.” Why do I bring this up? Well the guy that did the entire ride in his 53×11 made me laugh. Seriously, what’s the point? The gears are on your bike for a reason – use them! We all have a range of cadences where we are comfortable and effective. Work on widening that range in training, but use your gears to stay in that range for group rides and races.
Before anybody gets offended and starts writing me letters, let me offer the following data from my Garmin for the ride in question. The meat of the ride, excluding warm up and cool down, was a little over 2 hours, our average speed was 22.1mph, and my average cadence was 91rpm. No big deal, right? No big chain ring either; that was done in the 39.
The optimal gearing for setting a sub-5 bike split on a flat Ironman course? A 44-tooth chainring. Yup, we did the math for Beach 2 Battleship. A compact crank with cyclocross gears is just the ticket.