Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cycling Pedal Efficiency

Let's approach Singapore Half Ironman strategically, my weakest link is obviously cycling. I found it quite taxing to cycle a road bike despite having some experience on a mountain bike; and during the Sundays' Brick trainings, I found it impossible to run even at a normal pace after being on the bike for an hour. I begin looking up resource on how to cycle more efficiently and was delighted to found that just like swimming, there is an art to cycle efficiency, I am probably applying the wrong force and ended up straining my hamstring too much. The most insightful article I read can be found in Coachseiji.com. Read on for my summary.

I used to think of cycling as an up & down motion like a piston, but if I am applying force vertically up and down, then only at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock would my force be at a tangent to the circle that the pedal is traveling at. Compare to a efficient cycling technique, I am also loading up my hamstring in both the up and down cycle leaving no room for it to relax. Since the hamstring is involved in both hip extension (down) and knee flexion (up). Instead you should be thinking of moving your foot around a circle in 3 phase.

#1 The downstroke beings at 11 o'clock of the cycle, you should used your quadricep to kick your feet forward and down to 4 o'clock without relying on the hamstring to extend the hip too much.

#2 The backstroke begins at 3 o'clock, overlaping the previous phase, use your hamstring to flex your knee like kicking backward on sands, this takes you pass 6 o'clock to 7 o'clock, providing your other foot power to move forward while it is at 12 o'clock.

#3 The upstroke begins at 7 o'clock, the aim is to take the weight of your foot off the pedal by lifting it up. The hip flexor will be used to bringing your knee up in running. The writer of the articule emphasis to "lift" the foot but not to "pull" the pedal up at this phase as that will involve the hamstring muscle which should be relaxing at this stage. It would be an in efficient use of energy to pull up the pedal anyway.

Doing it right, your cycle stroke is more horizontally than vertically, the power output will be more evenly distributed from 11 o'clock to 7 o'clock of the cycle.

95 comments:

Alex said...

A good way to practice this (Assuming you have pedals, and access to a bike trainer)

What you want to do is clip one foot into the pedal while the other foot is rest on a chair, and you simply ride the bike with one leg at a time. What this will do is it will isolate each leg and forces you to use the spinning motion (kick over 11:00 and then pull 3:00) istead of just up and down. I usually do 3 sets of 2 min for each leg.

It helps a ton when comes to hill climbing.

Gabs Lau said...

Thanks, I tried the one leg drill at the gym this week too. Good to know that is proven concept. My bike trainer is coming in this Friday.

Gabs Lau said...

Just did a spinning class with this new cycling technique, it is pretty amazing I don't feel tired at all even after 45 mins of mad pedalling!

Alex said...

Good work, keep on spinning!!

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