– Kim Le Court
As we move into the “Base” part of the season we will be spending more time in the saddle enjoying our bikes on those long peaceful rides. While we won’t be doing too many all-out efforts, we need to take the time to hone in on our skills
One of the most important cycling skills that is often neglected during the race period, is the development of a smooth pedaling stroke.
A smooth pedaling stroke will allow you to move quickly and efficiently and this has a big impact on your racing ability. The better you are at turning your pedals, the better your economy of effort on the bike. During the “Base” period we will be focusing quite a bit on helping you to pedal more effectively.
A good pedal technique is based on a small amount of ankling.
Your main force to your bike is the downward push on your pedals and this we all understand and do every day. The technique of generating power across the bottom of the revolution and back up to start, with the downward stroke again is known as ankling. To do this well, you need to lower the heel on the downward stroke and lift the heel as the pedal begins the upward path. This allows for constant power on the pedals, eliminating the dead spot center-top and -bottom. It also spreads the load more evenly on your leg muscles, allowing you to go faster for longer.
The higher your cadence the more pronounced your ankling will become.
When you climb a hill at a slow cadence you will find your heel dropping much more on the down-stroke and it won’t lift as much on the upstroke. When you go into an all-out-sprint with a very high leg-speed you might find that your heel doesn’t drop much on the down stroke and that there is a high lift on the upstroke.
Have a look at these cool animations to give you a better idea as to what we are referring to. (scroll to the bottom of the page to see the animations).
Unfortunately, the downside to improving your pedal stroke can make you feel slower initially. The transition period might take a couple of weeks … but soon you will feel like you are flying. So, hang in there.