I put my 11 on the back...something wasn't kosher, the chain was having a tendency of skipping.
I was told to to make an easy 40 mph, and not get exhausted right away, a lower gear ratio, spin and spin fast!
practice to where it is comfortable spinning at 180-200 rpm
I'm told it's akin to doing speed work on the track.
I know that when i'm going 35 mph on the flat (52-12), 200 feet to go to the finish, I'm to the point to where I can't put in the push
but I think with a lower gear ratio, hence easier effort, and a faster spin,(i've been reading various articles of the high cadence/low watts
science.) I can pull off a few extra MPH's.
It seems to me that when a couple guys are putting a little ground on me at the finish, they are spinning faster.
I'd like to see if I can find someone to take video of me and the field, on the sprint, and compare the cadence of everyone.
I'll probably rig up a fixed gear bike for practice, but unlike Rizzo's, I'm putting brakes on the back also!
I have no intentions of going over the handle bars going downhill at 45 mph's.
Cadence is one of those personal things. Some people spin really fast and some mash. There is a happy medium, but generally, over time, you will settle in to what is natural. Mashing at 50 RPM isn't good but I don't think being spun out at 180 RPM is good either.
Question: are you completely spun out in your 52-12 when you sprint? Tom Steels used to sprint in his 52-12. Another point of reference: I can spin my 53-12 up to about 47 MPH (downhill of course), after that I am spun out (meaning that it feels like there is no chain on the bike.)
I had an 11 tooth cog on a cassette one time and the only time I used it was when I was flying down the hill from Mt. Bachelor toward Sunriver. I could see needing an 11 tooth cog if you are running a compact crank set in the front with a 50 tooth big chain ring. Then you may need that 11 cog for descending. But think about this: only guys like Cipollini sprint in a 53-11 combo.
You could get a fixie, or you could ride your road bike in one gear without shifting. But, if you build up a fixie, call me because I have a wheel and crankset that I will sell you. Don't bother with a rear brake because the pads will be worn down to nothing after 3 rides.
Another good way to work on smoothness and your pedal stroke is to ride rollers. You can try mine.
What else can I tell you? There is so much information out there that it's mind boggling. Treat it all like a smorgasbord: it's all good, but not all the information is for everyone, at every time. Take a little at a time and see what works for you. I've been racing bikes since 1996 and am still learning! One thing nowadays is that I listen less and less to people because more times than not I've been bitten in the arse by bad advice.