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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I'd like to improve my form and would ask for some direction from some of the more experienced riders. My bike is properly fit to me, and I'm in good cardio shape, and I'm 6' and 185. Like most, I have strong days and then days I have to fight for every mile. I'm keenly aware of my form and try to keep my arms loose, elbows bent, start pushing at the top of my stroke (about 1 o'clock rt foot), I pedal with the heal-down technique such as I'm scraping mud off my shoe. Even though I'm constantly working on keeping all of this together, my riding partners tell me that sometimes my knees go outward. Is there a cure for this? I'm not bole legged at all. I look at some of the pro racers and they appear to make an effort to bring their knees inward toward the top tube.. almost to the point where they appear knock kneed. Any tips on techniques to get my knees and stroke in correct line is greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Mick
 

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Ride...

adlerburg said:
Hi,
I'd like to improve my form and would ask for some direction from some of the more experienced riders. My bike is properly fit to me, and I'm in good cardio shape, and I'm 6' and 185. Like most, I have strong days and then days I have to fight for every mile. I'm keenly aware of my form and try to keep my arms loose, elbows bent, start pushing at the top of my stroke (about 1 o'clock rt foot), I pedal with the heal-down technique such as I'm scraping mud off my shoe. Even though I'm constantly working on keeping all of this together, my riding partners tell me that sometimes my knees go outward. Is there a cure for this? I'm not bole legged at all. I look at some of the pro racers and they appear to make an effort to bring their knees inward toward the top tube.. almost to the point where they appear knock kneed. Any tips on techniques to get my knees and stroke in correct line is greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Mick
Ride a fixed gear.

Don't do what the pros do, as what is good for them, probably won't be good for you.

The best way to develop a good pedal stroke is to ride, a lot. It just develops over time.
 

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+1 for the one leg at a time. I personally prefer the toe down put thats just me. Regardless like the last post said get on a trainer and go one leg at a time. I started doing this by using a training dvd for the winter. Get into a nice big gear and go 1 minute at 60rpm with the left foot, then switch to the right for a minute. thats one set... repeat 3-5 times. It makes you alot stronger and improves form big time.
 

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+1 on the one legged drills (2 minutes per leg, 50-60 rpm, recover 2 minutes, then 2 minutes per leg at 80-90 rpm (easier gear)).

Spin-up drills work well too as to achieve a high cadence without bouncing you will need to pedal in a nice circular stroke.
 

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Pedaling circles

adlerburg said:
I pedal with the heal-down technique such as I'm scraping mud off my shoe. Even though I'm constantly working on keeping all of this together, my riding partners tell me that sometimes my knees go outward. Is there a cure for this? I'm not bole legged at all.
Rather than the "scrape mud off your shoes" approach, which is virtually impossible at higher cadences, focus on "pedaling circles" to develop a smooth and effective style. The idea is to smoothly apply power throughout the revolution of the pedals. Of course, you can't really do this, but relaxing and trying to make it happen really does make a difference.

You don't need to be BOW legged to have your knees splay out. It can be because your thighs are hitting your gut, your cadence is too low, your seat is too low, or you're just trying to hard. Pedal circles in a high cadence and this won't happen.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
It can be because your thighs are hitting your gut, your cadence is too low, your seat is too low, or you're just trying to hard.
Not too mention a possible bio-mechanical difference/limitation such as sligth leg length discrepency or even a pronation/suppination issue that effects varus or valgus orientation which could be reduced/eliminiated with things such as wedges under the cleats or even different road shoes such as the Specialized Body Geometry road shoes.
 

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here's what has help me:
1. ride a fixie most of the time
2. at very high cadences, eg 120+ thinking more about lifting your quad up, rather then pushing it down(focus on 6-12, not 12-6)
3. don't scrape mud. the "pulling through with the cleat" thing is way over-rated
4. if your cleats are aligned to your body, and your bike is fitted, forcing your knees into an unatural angle wih likely cause injury after awhile. BTW, is see plenty of pros in the TDF who seem to fling their kneews forward often pretty far to the sides. tends to be little climber guys with high out-of-saddle cadences. looks funny but they go fast
5. Re your upper body, you should be comfortable riding in multiple positions all over the bars. a death grip on bars is not required. watch the recent ITT in the TDF. compare a guy like Voigt to Shumacher. voigt hammers his bike into submission, S had almost no movement with a light grip on the aero bars. strive for S's style, settle where you can. most of us look more like voigt
 

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I+ on the "try for a circular pedal stroke". I've (this season) been re-vamping my pedal stroke, or at least trying to polish it up to be more effective. On a very long TT, uphill then downhill over a 50-mile course, I devised a way to keep my intensity up by repeating the mantra "Spin, Spin, etc" Really realizing (and acknowledging, to myself) that the only motion that takes you forward is the circular motion applied to your cranks, period. Everything else is just wasted or perifferal effort. If you don't turn those cranks effectivly, you won't get up the road effectivly..After 2.5 hours at max effort, all alone against the clock and the mountain, I hit into a Zen-like stroke and then made a conscious effort to "remember" how it feels. Right on the face of my Garmin, I painted a couple of arrows, kinda like that Recycle logo, so that every time I glance down, I see and am reminded to "keep it circular" After a few weeks, I greatly improved my pedal stroke. Seems a bit strange at first, "Thinking about it" to do something you've already been doing for years..But with a bit of time, you will smooth out and get more power out of that chain that goes round and round down there.
Don Hanson
 

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...another thing I've found useful. Setup an old bike on a trainer with a slightly treaded rear tire. (for the slight noise it'll make) Close your eyes and concentrate on keeping a steady hum as you pedal at different cadences and loads.

I sometimes to this for 10 or 15 minutes before a real ride. It's sets the "feel" of a steady round pedal stroke in my mind... so it's fresh when I head out on a real ride.

I had a knee injury a few years ago and needed to really work on my pedal stroke coming back. I'd never worried about it much before.
 

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adlerburg said:
Hi,
I'd like to improve my form and would ask for some direction from some of the more experienced riders. My bike is properly fit to me, and I'm in good cardio shape, and I'm 6' and 185. Like most, I have strong days and then days I have to fight for every mile. I'm keenly aware of my form and try to keep my arms loose, elbows bent, start pushing at the top of my stroke (about 1 o'clock rt foot), I pedal with the heal-down technique such as I'm scraping mud off my shoe. Even though I'm constantly working on keeping all of this together, my riding partners tell me that sometimes my knees go outward. Is there a cure for this? I'm not bole legged at all. I look at some of the pro racers and they appear to make an effort to bring their knees inward toward the top tube.. almost to the point where they appear knock kneed. Any tips on techniques to get my knees and stroke in correct line is greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Mick
What size crankset do you use?
Try to use very short ones for a while.
It helped my friend who had the exact same problem.
 

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Do some low rpm intervals once a week. 3-4 reps for 5 minutes at 60 rpm in a big gear(53-15,14). Focus on applying power all the way around - push down, pull back, pull up and push forward. After 3-4 sessions you will have a better feel for whaat a round pedal stroke feels like. On days after the low speed intervals ride a fixed gear preferably or small gears if no fixed gear is available(42-16, 39-15) at 100 rpm +. You should notice a big improvement in 3-4 weeks time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you... I'll try that, as that is what I've been doing but in a loose fashion. Is there strength training that is applicable here as well? Should legs be done in the gym? I've been omitting legs in my strength workouts as I was under the impression that cycling takes care of that (?)
 

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This will open a big can of worms but I have recommended to riders that I've coached that weight work with legs in the gym should be in the off-season and be combined with easy low gear rides with an emphasis on spinning. 100 - 120 miles per week on a fix gear combined with weights in the winter for 6-8 weeks is a good off-season program for me.
 

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I was on a motorcycle behind Steve Bauer when he rode alone to win the stage to Sacramento in the 1985 Coors Classic. If I remember correctly, his knees were going outwards too, but I don't think anyone came up to him to mention his pedaling deficiency. At the time, I also recall being on a ride behind one of the strongest local riders in the Bay Area and getting seasick from watching the motion of his right knee which made some kind of weird geometrical curve, i.e., all over the place but exactly the same each pedal stroke. Biomechanics will to a large extent dictate your pedaling motion.

I also ready that it was better to ride with your knees together, but there is no point fighting against nature. Apart from Graeme Obree, I'm not there that has been too much effort to ride this way.



In any case, riding with knees close together has become harder with Q-factor increasing 10mm or more in the last 25 years. Obree had to design his own bottom bracket (from the washing machine) to get an even lower Q-factor than on track cranks (so maybe 25mm less than current road cranks) and remove the top tube which was in the way of his knees.

-ilan
 
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