To many, pedaling on a bike may seem like a natural, easy thing -- just push down, up, and keep the chain rolling. However, although many people know how to Pedal, not everybody knows how to do it efficiently. In fact, most are not even aware of the importance and science of pedaling properly.
When we watch a bicycle race, the pedaling actions of these seasoned athletes appear smooth, easy, and effortless. We fail to realize that the way they are pedaling involves developing a technique, performing drills, and putting in many hours of training and practice. By being able to perfect their pedaling, these cyclists can ride swiftly and with smaller risk of getting injured.
What Are The Different Pedaling Techniques?
Different riders may have different pedaling techniques, although there are three major ones that are typically used:
- Heel-down Technique.
- Toe-down Technique.
- Neutral Technique.
Choosing one over the other is actually a matter of personal preference, although most cyclists would agree on one thing that should be avoided: pulling on the upstroke.
While most people tend to pull as their foot goes around, they should actually just be pushing against their own strokes with their other leg. Put simply, they should not actively pull on the upstroke. Riders should also try “ankling,” or keeping their ankles loose as they pedal. This would make it easier for them to apply power when they reach the bottom of each stroke.
8 Tips to Perfect Your Pedaling:
Aside from learning how to do the the different pedaling techniques, here are some more tips that can help you improve your pedaling skills:
Buy A Good Pair of Biking Shoes
Without a good pair of biking shoes, it will be hard for you to maximize your power whenever you pedal. Although they may cost you more, a good pair of cycling shoes can help you improve your performance and eventually reach your cycling goals.
Make Sure That Your Bike “Fits” Properly
We don’t feel comfortable when wearing shoes or clothes in the wrong size, right? The same thing applies to pedaling and riding a bike. You must see to it that your bike “fits” your body perfectly.
You see, when your seat is too low, you increase the risk of getting painful knees. On the other hand, when your seat is too high, you will not be able to pedal effectively. So what you should do is to experiment with different positions and see which ones work best for you.
The things is, when your body is in the right position, you should be able to pedal smoothly and with a greater amount of energy. You should also be able to pedal using different intensity levels and on various terrains. The perfect “fit” means you can achieve greater cycling performance!
Get Into The Correct Position
How do you know if you are in the right position on your bike? Looking into a mirror or asking a friend to look at you from the front should be able to help. Your ankle, knee, and hip should be lined up as you stroke the pedal, when viewed from the front. Otherwise, your upstroke and downstroke would be affected, and you might end up hurting your knees instead.
Use The Right Resistance Setting
At all times, make sure that you are using the right resistance setting. If the resistance is to high, you might end up focusing only on your downstroke phase. In this case, you should lower the resistance level for a more balanced performance.
Moreover, take a look at how your legs apply force with each stroke. As much as possible, your left and right legs should be exerting the same amount of effort. With a balanced performance, you are less likely to get tired more easily.
Don't Stand Up
Unless you are trying to perform a stunt, do not stand up as you pedal. If you stand, this can affect your pedaling technique and make it harder to maintain your energy with each stroke. Stand up only if it is part of a training session that requires it.
Try Various Cadence Settings
Whenever you can, try to pedal using different cadence settings as well as resistance levels. You can do this by trying out different kinds of terrain: flat surfaces, downhill, and uphill. Experimenting with different resistance levels and cadence settings can help prepare you for different scenarios.
Build Up Your Leg Muscles
Having strong leg muscles can definitely help you improve your pedaling techniques. To develop strong leg muscles, you will need to do lunges, squats, and other off-the-bike workouts. By building these muscles, you can be prepared even for intense or long-distance bike trips.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
This tip cannot be emphasized enough. You cannot perfect your technique in one night, but you can definitely improve by practicing regularly. Be sure to work on your pedaling technique each time that you practice, and keep track of your progress.
Aside from the tips presented, another thing that you can do to improve your pedaling is to learn from the best. Observe the techniques of professional cyclists in races, and talk with your friends who have been in the sport for a longer time. By learning from their experience, you too can take your pedaling and cycling to greater heights.
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