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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it better to use the muscles that tilt the feet to contribute to the downstroke and the upstorke on the bike? Or is it more efficient to keep the feet at around a tight 65 degree angle and prevent them from rotating? Is it better to move my upper leg more, than my lower leg while riding? If anyone could answer these questions or give advice efficient pedaling that would be great.
Matt
 

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I switch between keeping my foot stretched out for the whole stroke and rotating my ankle throughout the stroke but I think keeping my foot stretched out works better for me, I'm not sure what is the most efficient way though.

I have read though that there is no benefit at all to trying to do an up stroke and you are better off saving that energy and focusing on the down stroke only.
 

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mpetersen16 said:
Is it better to use the muscles that tilt the feet to contribute to the downstroke and the upstorke on the bike? Or is it more efficient to keep the feet at around a tight 65 degree angle and prevent them from rotating? Is it better to move my upper leg more, than my lower leg while riding? If anyone could answer these questions or give advice efficient pedaling that would be great.
Matt
Make the pedals go around as smoothly as you can. That's all there is to it.

All the thoughts about keeping things flat or angling them so much here, so much there, don't really contribute to that goal, 'cause it's not natural. Coaches end up giving this sort of advice to someone who had previously heard the opposite version, and they're trying to correct.

Now, to somewhat contradict what I just said, your calves are much smaller than your thighs. They'll wear out faster if you make conscious efforts to use them, and once they're shot, you are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Calve Cramping

Thanks for the advice, my calves were burning out on me today, despite that they are almost pure muscle (I'm 140-144 5'10" 17 years old), was riding fairly instensively for about an hour and then after a 5 minute break, I rode intensively for 35 minutes, at which point my left leg cramped up completely. It might have been that I had not eaten lunch, although I ate about 30 minutes before I rode, and water couldn't have been a problem, because I was not sweating much and had drank plenty of water. Is this happening because my left calve is not strong enough, and as a result is getting stronger, or is this perhaps that I am pushing too hard and that this could be detrimental?
 

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What you describe is what they used to call "ankling"- rotate the ankle around the pedal stroke. It used to be recommended for everyone, but now it depends on the rider and the situation. I do it a little bit when riding at a high cadence on level ground, but on climbs I let my heels drop more at the bottom of the pedal stroke, which effectively lengthens the distance from the pedals to the seat and lets me put out a bit more power.

Your calf probably cramped because you were thinking about your pedalling and pedalled differently than normal, and stressed your calves more than you normally do.

Greg Lemond advised riders to pretend they are scraping something off the bottom of their shoe, as a way to encourage the right muscle use for pedalling a "round" stroke. It works for me, as long as I don't forget to pull up as well.
 

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Ride hills on a fixed gear while clipped in for a while, that'll force you to pedal very efficiently (and quickly in spots). Works well for me, you might give that a try.
 

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wzq622 said:
Just remember to push forward rather than pushing down on the pedal strokes. I've read from Chris Carmichael that pulling up on the upstroke isn't necessary. Just allow the momentum to carry through.
On my commute on wednesday - I tried my hardest to pedal on the upstroke only.. and it really worked my upper thighs.

I had nothing to give at the tues/thurs club ride and had my worst ride ever.

I'm taking today off to recover.. mountain ride is tomorrow..
 

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personally I do as little thinking about it as I can. I concentrate on moving the pedals in circles and try to let my legs figure it out.
I read somewhere that some old-timey guru spoke of "piling the bones." By that he meant that you should set your hips, upper legs, knees, lower legs/ankles in a line, and move them around fluidly as a sort of unit, not concentrating on any one part. I think that this is a useful image, too.
 

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Here are my pedalling thouhgts....

My style is level foot to slightly lower heel. When in max efficiency mode, one or both of the following is happening:

> I envision striking the handle bar (with my knee) at the top of my stroke. This seems to promote a full rotational extension. Of course, the bar is never contacted, but each time envisioned, I can see my speed increase with no noticeable RPE.

>My foot is pulled fully rearward in the shoe with my heel in firm contact with the heel counter of the shoe. My foot seems suspended within the shoe, no pressure contact with the insole (no hot spot) and most importantly there is definite weight along the back edge of the cleat interface with the pedal. This results in a good, strong pull through the stroke.
 

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Simpler than it sounds

Barring very low cadence up very steep hills, the main thing is to get your leg "out of the way" after it has done its downstroke.

People talk about "pedalling circles" or "smooth pedal stroke," but really what they mean is that a rider applies pressure on the downstroke, and then unloads the leg and prevents it from counter-weighting as it passes through the upstroke. Different people do this differently, but "scraping mud off of your shoes" is a decent enough way of thinking about a clean spin.
 

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I don't like that scraping mud analogy, I'd rather think about moving the heels around in a circle. Don't think about pressing down with your feet, think about moving your heels around. This works better for explaining to newbies, they seem to get the concept better.
 

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Prolene said:
I enjoy trying to find the always will be elusive 'perfect' pedal stroke. When my foot seems weightless when the crank is down, since I am not pushing against the crank, when all pedal efforts seem tangential to the crank circle, etc.

I found a nice article to help about pedaling efficiency:
Preventing Hamstring Fatigue During Cycling.


If you were fortunate enough to find the perfect pedal stroke, what advantages would you expect to get from it ?
 

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Doesn't anyone?

Just ride their bikes anymore?

Seems like there are lots of people who are sucking the fun out of riding the bike. Just sit down, push forward, and ride. It's really that simple. I do believe with enough miles under you, and with enough months and or years of riding, things will more or less come naturally anyway. Stop thinking so much, and just ride.
 

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a floe like feeling like not even felling to pedalling anymore but spining with 110rpm and felling like standign in a corner and reading the news?

Some things that I remember from a scientific research -the more power you exert, the better the efficiancy of the power invested being used.
-efficiacy varies greatly, from rider to rider, a pro being 20-40% more efficiant than a leisure rider
-one of th most efficiant riders tested was Bjarne Rijs (I think) and Uwe Ampler.
 

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Efficiency

If you go here: http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/98/6/2191

you will find an excellent article by Dr. Ed Coyle (one of the top exercise physiologists in the world) that details the changes in efficiency of Lance Armstrong as he aged. Much of his improvment in efficiency was attritable to changes in muscle energy utilization, rather than due to improved technique. This is probably the case with many well trained cyclists.

Initial improvements in efficiency in novice cyclists are probably due to a more efficient pedal stroke (especially at high cadence). After the initial adaptation, muscular biochemistry plays an increasingly important role. More miles on the bike = more efficient.

Mike

P.S. Lace improved power output at a given rate of oxygen consumption by about 8 % during his Tour racing years. Pretty good improvement.
 

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Here is what I do to increase efficiency and it seems to make sense to me. Ride at a certain speed as easily as you possibly can!!! Do not use any sudden movements and try to conserve your energy while "soft pedalling" I tend to "caress" the pedals and almost will my feet to turn over. After half an hour of this riding you can switch off your brain and just cruise around at a nice pace...the focus should be on making things as easy as possible for a given speed. That includes finding a mix of power and aerodynamics on the bike and also saving your muscles from anything strenuous.

Its sounds too good to be true but it works...I think its called pedalling with "suplesse".
 
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