Monday, January 28, 2013

Technique matters, go figure.

As I was recently reading through some STP literature, I read something in their FAQ about the way that people typically pedal their bikes and how it is really inefficient or improper.  One of the suggestions that I read was putting your force of peddling into an action similar to scraping dirt off your shoe.  So, really, your strength goes into the backstroke, and not pushing down on the pedals.  Why does this even matter?  Well, if you are riding 200+ miles over a couple of days, the few calories that you are able to save by proper technique-extrapolated over thousands of strokes throughout the day could mean the difference between complete exhaustion in the middle of the ride versus at the end when you are supposed to be exhausted.

I tried to use the conceptual idea of this modified stroke when I was out yesterday, and what do you know-it made a difference.  The two real changes were in where I felt the strain (the top portion of my quadriceps) and in the speed.  As I changed my stroke halfway through my ride, I suddenly found myself going faster and using a muscle group that, while I thought I was using, I wasn't using in any significant way.  I had to stop myself on a few occasions from lapsing back into the pedal stroke I have used since I learned how to ride a bike, and I am sure when I go riding tomorrow morning, I will need to re-remind myself of the same thing.  I am not sure what I expected, but I am discovering there is a fair amount more to riding a bike than just hoping on (I mean, you can do that, and it is totally fine, but, there are things to make you more efficient and things easier). I also could be wrong entirely on how I am interpreting this.

Also, as an aside.  I bought new drop downs yesterday at the CCC (well, new to me).  A set of pretty nice Cyclocross 44cm's with bar ends that flare to 50cm.  I think this will give me a lot more control and the overall shape of them seems to make much more intuitive sense when riding in a more aerodynamic sense.  The guy at the CCC said that older style bikes (which Betsy is) tended to have a more narrow philosophy attached to them.  As in, the handlebars were much more narrow.  It is fine, but when I tested the Redline, I liked the broader handlebars from a control and aesthetic sense (and I read that contemporary thinking is that your handlebars should be as broad as your shoulders).  I am hoping to mount them this weekend once I pick up new cabling/cable housing (since everything will be at least a few inches longer now).

Below are a few links that I found for peddling information, for your perusal.  Much of this is easier when you are riding clipless or with toe clips as standard platform pedals are rather suited to the push style peddling we have all done for years.  But I think some of this technique can really extrapolate.

An essay with a couple diagrams on this


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