Every kid knows how to pedal a bike, but not every kid can *really* pedal a bike. You can hear about pedaling circles, have someone describe how to drag your foot through the bottom of the stroke but until you can see your pedal stroke, you are only guessing. I just did the noon workout on the Computrainer at West Seattle, and despite 30 years of focusing on pedaling circles, the best I can sustain is 85%.
If you don’t have access to a Computrainer then you can do technique work on a very gentle hill. Carefully unclip one foot and pedal with one foot and try to eliminate the “chunk clunk” deadspot in your pedaling and make it smooth. Try it for 1-2 minutes then go back to both feet and then try the other foot.
Once you try the Computrainer either in one of our ICE indoor classes or for a pedal stroke analysis, you will understand just how difficult it is to maintain 80% pressure, many cannot even do it and max out at 70% or lower. The first thing to do is to lock your upper body as still as possible. This core activation allow you to push and pull your legs against each other and get more leverage around the stroke.
The next thing to focus on is where to put your pressure, you don’t have to think about pushing down, it is automatic. Try to get your foot to slide back into the heel cup of your shoe and actually push against the heel cup through the bottom of the pedal stroke.
If that doesn’t bring your number up, try to focus on just finishing pedaling all the way down to the bottom. If that doesn’t bring your number up, try driving your knees up. Everyone is different, so you will need to experiment to see what works best for you.
You only use a full pedal stroke when you are going hard, like shifting into 4wheel drive to get up a steep hill. It is something that activates your whole upper leg and glute and really turbo charges your riding. If you want to learn how to *really* pedal then stop in to Cycle U and talk to one of our coaches to set up a pedal stroke analysis.