Ever considered pedalling technique? I mean really just thought about it?
I’ve been riding bikes a good long while now, and probably 20 years of that in clipless pedals, so pedalling should have been easier and more efficient right? Well in a manner using clipless pedals offered the potential of greater efficiency and power on the bike, but it needed practice of the right technique.
The key here to note is the word efficiency. Understand what it means, to do the same or more with less effort……..that’s what I want on my bike, to go further and faster but with less effort! The big trick that the shops told us back then was you can push and pull on the pedals to increase your power. So for a very dumbed down explanation, this is correct, but that only adds efficiency on the up stroke of one leg at the same time as the other is forcing the pedals down. What I wanted was an increase in my pedal smoothness and in a part of the pedal stroke that I’m not capitalizing on.
Technique and Practice.
So over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how to beat my personal bests on the climbs (which are my weakness) and, it dawned on me the other day while scouting a tricky loose section for the 2018 Absa Cape Epic. You had to ride a gear or two harder than you usually would on a similar incline (cadence gets reduced from 85/90 rpm to 65/70 rpm) and you have to “ROLL” the cranks, without rocking and without breaking breaking traction. You have to not pull on the handlebars for fear of pulling yourself skew in that split second slip of the wheel. You had to be rock solid and yet supple all at the same time. I mastered a little trick that helped me do this (more on this if you wish to attend a skill session with me). Once this trick was mastered, I set out on some of my favourite rocky, sandy and technical climbs that boast low traction, and more importantly, have a reputation for claiming non smooth riders.
I set off, not thinking I would best my record of 8:59min.sec but I set off with the purpose of holding the best technique I could. I rolled a fat gear, low cadence and I kept my core engaged. I toiled and struggled to the top and thought nothing of it. It didn’t feel faster, in fact, it had felt slower. But I noticed I wasn’t tired. I thought maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. It was only when I got home and downloaded the file that I saw I had bested my time by 46sec but with ease. The thing is, I took the KOM also BONUS!
Since then I’ve concentrated on the importance of the technique and have had other fantastic results, reaching top 10s and higher on sections I would normally on feature in the late 30s! All of this made possible with not having to push High outputs, but pushing more of my pedal stroke with a medium high power (higher average through out the pedal stroke) than a high push and pull stroke!
Go practice rolling your pedals around rather than just pushing down and pulling up and go see for yourself!