Source: Jason Sumner, RoadBikeReview.com
I ran across this article today and it is a great reminder of complete pedal stokes and full engagement throughout each rotation along with some tips to improve. Great article Jason!
Pedaling. It’s one of the most fundamental skills to riding a bike, but also one of the most overlooked. You do it without even thinking about it. How much to it can there really be?
Truth is there is a trick to doing it well, typically expressed in the well-worn phrase, try to pedal in circles. Indeed, if you are just pressing down at the top of the pedal stroke – and not using the full 360-degress of rotation – you are not pedaling efficiently.
Instead, try these tips to help you eliminate dead spots and become better at pedaling your bicycle.
Scrape Your Foot
When pedaling your bike think about pulling your foot back and up like you are scraping your foot on the ground. When done properly, you will feel this in your hamstrings and the back of legs. When your pedal is lifting up the feeling should be one of lifting your knee with help from your hip flexors.
Slow Down To Go Faster
To improve your stroke, try this drill. Start by slowing the movement down. Ride up a hill in a gear much harder than you would normally choose. Target a cadence of about 40rpm. Rest your hands lightly on the bars and keep your upper body still. Now start paying close attention to your pedal stroke. You should be able to feel where you are strong and where the dead spots are. This slow cadence practice will help you focus on eliminating those dead spots.
When riding, think about smoothing things out, and trying to eliminate any surges in your pedaling action. One trick to achieving this is to only think about second half of pedal stroke, when your foot is coming up.
Touch Your Toes
Focus on trying to push your foot forward in your shoe, touching your toes to the front end of the shoe each time you are at the top of the pedal stroke. This will help you transition more smoothly through the 12-o’clock position. Start in an easy gear and then increase resistance as you get better.?
For out-of-saddle efforts, focus on lifting your feet on upstroke by un-weighting and pulling up with hamstrings.
Check You Saddle
Make sure your saddle is at right height. If you saddle is too high, you can’t pedal smoothly. If it’s too low, it’s much harder to recruit the right muscles. To check this, lean against a wall, sit on the saddle, then drape both feet straight down. If your saddle height is correct, your heel should just graze the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
Use One Leg
One legged drills are another great way to smooth out your pedal stroke and hardwire the correct pattern of muscle recruitment. Try going at a steady rate for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, five times per side. This is a great drill for indoor trainer workouts. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll realize the unevenness in your pedal stroke or weakness in your hamstring."
I figured the bike (Noisy Boy) would feel nearly identical to my previous 29er, same size, both carbon, both used the same components. Not so. The minute I got on in the parking lot to check my saddle height etc., I could feel something different. I wasn't exactly sure what but I just kept an open mind and we rode a rolling trail for a couple hours. Then for a good four hours the next day on some pretty rugged and demanding trails, and two more on fast, swooping trails the next. It was an excellent variety of ways to experiment with the handling and feel of the bike.
I'm really excited about the ride and fit improvements, not huge, but noticeable for sure. It feels more "underneath" me, which translates to me that I have better control, better control helps my confidence, confidence helps me go faster and ride more stuff. It's a little more forgiving with a slightly softer ride, the front end corners smoothly and accurately (I crashed my previous bike several times when it was new because it's got such twitchy handling) and I liked the way it descended and manualed a lot. Light and bouncy, but easy to control.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to ride this fun and elegant bike. I'll put a phenomenal number of miles on it this season!
A couple of simple household items that can help you in a cycling pinch:
1) Shoe Goo - Tis the rain/cold season so the neoprene booties get a workout. Shoe Goo is a good fix for those booties, or to rescue a shoe upper.
2) Toothbrush - Don't throw away the old ones. They make great grime getters for those tough to reach places on your bike.
3) Rubbing Alcohol - It's perfect to remove old grips, just pry open a spot and pour some in. Work the grip and it should slide off. When reinstalling a grip, hair spray can make the contact sticky to keep that grip in place.
4) Olive Oil - a couple drips can help save that chain until you can get some of the real deal.
5) Lemon Pledge / Orange glow - I love this stuff. After you clean your bike up, polish it with pledge. It will not only make your bike shine like new, it will act as a repellent on on your frame to keep the mud and water wicking away instead of sticking. I used it last season during the muddy cross races, and it works like a charm.
6) Zip Ties - I never leave home with out them. Fix a shoe, fender, cable housing, and even help hold in a damaged spoke, or seat. I carry about 5 of each size in my seatbag.
7) Ziplock baggies - Don't risk the cell phone or other electronics. The Iphone fits perfectly in a ziplock bag. You can still use the touch screen through the bag. It will save your bacon on a rainy ride.
8) Nail polish, you would be surprised how easily you can find a perfect match to your frame colors at the local Rite-Aid. There myriad of colors immediately available, and a quick fix for that scratch or blemish on your frame. Some come in pen form to hide small scratches.
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