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From: (Jobst Brandt)
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Subject: Re: Pedaling Techniques
Date: 21 Apr 1999 23:32:01 GMT

Steve Bloom writes:

>>> I've been doing some more riding since fixing my flats (thanks for
>>> the tire tips, I'm buying new tougher tires) and I've started to
>>> analyze my pedaling technique.  Some questions come to mind: How
>>> much ankle movement should a person experience?  How much "pulling"
>>> or lifting should be done with the upper legs?  Do you point your
>>> toes down at the bottom of a stroke and pull them up to your shin at
>>> the top of a stroke?  I don't have the clip on shoes, just the toe
>>> baskets (straps).

>> Just ride your bike.  Find a nice course with rolling terrain and
>> pleasant countryside, chart a 50 mile route and ride it.  By the end
>> of the ride, you'll be doing it the most efficient way your body can.
>> If you aren't up to that distance, pick a shorter one and work up to
>> more.  You are not going to get any good at it approaching it
>> theoretically as you are attempting to do here.  It's as simple as
>> walking.

> Oh but I have put in some miles, hence my question.  I'm doing some
> regular 24 mile rides and did a 32 which left me pretty spent but
> not totally exhausted.  My question is should I use my calve muscles
> actively or not?  Should my ankles be locked in one position or do
> most people lever the foot up and down to accentuate the stroke?

If you had observed how you rode when you were tired, you could have
found the most efficient pedaling style for your physical condition
because in that state of fatigue, no unnecessary "style" remains.  If
you can't do it when you are tired, then you shouldn't do it otherwise
if you are seeking efficiency.  You may have missed an opportunity to
discover by yourself what you are asking others to prescribe for you.
Don't assume there are any magic bullets in pedaling style.  There

> As far as walking goes there are several ways to accomplish that as
> well.  Some methods are quite a bit more efficient than others.
> Watch the heads on the sidewalk some day.  Some people use a long
> stride, some short.  Some people use their feet to spring ahead
> while others use it like a shock absorber and their head follows a
> level line, not bouncing at all.  What's the difference?  Some
> people can walk a long way with no fatigue while others will have
> sore feet, calves and lower back pain.  It's my understanding in the
> military they teach you how to walk/march.

Not really, the teaching is just lots of marches that get you in
shape.  What people to optionally is like bicycling, when they go a
long distance the optional stuff falls away.  I will not tell you how
to pedal because that would at best project my pedaling style on you.
Your limbs and muscles don't necessarily operate the way others do.
If you were a natural bicycle athlete, you probably wouldn't start
riding at this late age what others have done from early youth.

> I'm just starting to develop a pedaling style and don't want to form
> any bad habits.  I agree, it should come naturally.  So, with
> practice and a good pattern, I should develop a strong efficient
> pedaling style that won't leave me with sore achilles, calves, knees
> ankles or arches.  All of which I notice get stressed differently
> when I consciously pedal with more emphasis on adding that
> joint/muscle into the stroke.

Unless you are artificially forcing yourself to do something or have some
physical hindrance, your natural style is your style, and any other one
is artificial and more costly.  Besides, these artificial styles go away
when you ride longer distances, they only work for the parade route.

> Anyone else with some experience or input?  Ankles locked and stiff
> or do the calves get a work out as well?

Go out and ride some more and watch what you do this time.  Actually
if you ride much and ignore all this, you'll automatically arrive on
the best form, assuming your position is reasonably correct.  Now that
is something that doesn't come naturally because when you are new, you
can't feel the right position and if you train in the wrong position,
often the right one doesn't feel right at first.  However, that is
something less easily described on the net.  Seat height, however, can
easily be found by trial and error.  When it is too high, your hips
will swivel.  They shouldn't.

Jobst Brandt      <>

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