Is it true that the "round pedalling stroke" is a myth?



dominikk85

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When I want to go really fast I pedal more "round" and add a horizontal force vector at the dead spots at 12 and 6 (mostly 12 of course because the scraping the mud with an extended leg is not going to produce much power but I try).

I really try to have force on the pedals during the whole circle (I probably don't succeed but I try). this does feel very powerfull and I am very fast like this for about two minutes but then my legs really start to burn like crazy and lactic acid shoots in my legs. probably that non stop tension is killing my legs and increase lactic acid.

I sometimes do this for some time (for example I like to spin up a couple hundred meters long hill with a 110 cadence in a small gear like that) and it does give me a boost but then I really need a break.
 

WillemJM

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I did two things tonight, first got on my rollers with my powermeter and then pointed my google.

My google kind of agreed with the notion here in the thread.

http://www.roadbikerider.com/cycling-science/perfect-pedal-strokes

My power meter did not agree though.

Warmed up 15 minutes, with 5 minutes between sessions to recover.

Pedaling the way I have learnt many years ago, descrived in the linky above as the way Greg Lemond advised, powering through the full circle.

Aimed at cadence around 98.

1st minute average power. 613 watts.

Rest 5 minutes

2nd minute average power 628 watts.

Rest 5 minutes

3rd minute average power 632 watts.

Rest 5 minutes and tried not to do what I always do, so powered on the down stroke only, did not pull through and did not pull up.

4th minute, aborted as my ass started bouncing and then figured out how to try and do this.

Rested 3 minutes

5th minute, power 518 watts

Rested 5 minutes

6th minute, power average 529 watts

Rested 5 minutes

7th minute average 523 watts.

Rested 5 minutes, clipped left leg out and spun only with right leg, concentrating to smooth the whole circle, did the same with left leg

Pedaled using the training in above sentence trying to go fluid with both legs, last minute, average power = 648 watts.

That was my roller session for tonight, but in short pedalling on the down stroke does not work for me. I think once we have learnt to do something a certain way for may years, any deviation does not work.

So, why do most of us spin around 90 - 110 on the flat sections and go down to 65 - 75 on a 10% incline?
 

fergie

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Apr 10, 2004
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Originally Posted by dominikk85 .

When I want to go really fast I pedal more "round" and add a horizontal force vector at the dead spots at 12 and 6 (mostly 12 of course because the scraping the mud with an extended leg is not going to produce much power but I try).

I really try to have force on the pedals during the whole circle (I probably don't succeed but I try). this does feel very powerfull and I am very fast like this for about two minutes but then my legs really start to burn like crazy and lactic acid shoots in my legs. probably that non stop tension is killing my legs and increase lactic acid.

I sometimes do this for some time (for example I like to spin up a couple hundred meters long hill with a 110 cadence in a small gear like that) and it does give me a boost but then I really need a break.
According to Broker (reporting on an unpublished study in High Tech Cycling) when track sprinters want to pedal really fast they actually apply power through less of the pedal stroke than any other event in the sport.
 

n crowley

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Originally Posted by fergie .


In twenty years of coaching I have never had to give advice to anyone about pedalling.

Actually no, I have given evidence based advice to you and Frank Day that your crackpot theories are unproven/img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
You don't even tell them to unweight the rising pedal ? But then according to yourself, coaches can only do what they have been trained to do, and that obviously does not include the use of common sense.
 

n crowley

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Originally Posted by WillemJM .

I did two things tonight, first got on my rollers with my powermeter and then pointed my google.

My google kind of agreed with the notion here in the thread.

http://www.roadbikerider.com/cycling-science/perfect-pedal-strokes

My power meter did not agree though.

Warmed up 15 minutes, with 5 minutes between sessions to recover.

Pedaling the way I have learnt many years ago, descrived in the linky above as the way Greg Lemond advised, powering through the full circle.

Aimed at cadence around 98.

1st minute average power. 613 watts.

Rest 5 minutes

2nd minute average power 628 watts.

Rest 5 minutes

3rd minute average power 632 watts.

Rest 5 minutes and tried not to do what I always do, so powered on the down stroke only, did not pull through and did not pull up.

4th minute, aborted as my ass started bouncing and then figured out how to try and do this.

Rested 3 minutes

5th minute, power 518 watts

Rested 5 minutes

6th minute, power average 529 watts

Rested 5 minutes

7th minute average 523 watts.

Rested 5 minutes, clipped left leg out and spun only with right leg, concentrating to smooth the whole circle, did the same with left leg

Pedaled using the training in above sentence trying to go fluid with both legs, last minute, average power = 648 watts.

That was my roller session for tonight, but in short pedalling on the down stroke does not work for me. I think once we have learnt to do something a certain way for may years, any deviation does not work.

So, why do most of us spin around 90 - 110 on the flat sections and go down to 65 - 75 on a 10% incline?

To get a true comparison you would need to do a few day's training on the 'downstroke only' style before doing the test and use unweighting instead of pulling up.
 

alienator

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n crowley said:
 You don't even tell them to unweight the rising pedal ?   But then according to yourself, coaches can only do what they have been trained to do, and that obviously does not include the use of common sense.
Note that there is absolutely zero proof that your suggested "method" is the product of common sense. People would be surprised how often common sense has been wrong in the face of actual science.
 

alienator

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WillemJM said:
I did two things tonight, first got on my rollers with my powermeter and then pointed my google. My google kind of agreed with the notion here in the thread. http://www.roadbikerider.com/cycling-science/perfect-pedal-strokes My power meter did not agree though. Warmed up 15 minutes, with 5 minutes between sessions to recover. Pedaling the way I have learnt many years ago, descrived in the linky above as the way Greg Lemond advised, powering through the full circle. Aimed at cadence around 98. 1st minute average power. 613 watts. Rest 5 minutes 2nd minute average power 628 watts. Rest 5 minutes 3rd minute average power 632 watts. Rest 5 minutes and tried not to do what I always do, so powered on the down stroke only, did not pull through and did not pull up. 4th minute, aborted as my ass started bouncing and then figured out how to try and do this. Rested 3 minutes 5th minute, power 518 watts Rested 5 minutes 6th minute, power average 529 watts Rested 5 minutes 7th minute average 523 watts. Rested 5 minutes, clipped left leg out and spun only with right leg, concentrating to smooth the whole circle, did the same with left leg Pedaled using the training in above sentence trying to go fluid with both legs, last minute, average power = 648 watts. That was my roller session for tonight, but in short pedalling on the down stroke does not work for me. I think once we have learnt to do something a certain way for may years, any deviation does not work. So, why do most of us spin around 90 - 110 on the flat sections and go down to 65 - 75 on a 10% incline?
Willem, note that without data showing power output or torque as a function of crank angle, it's impossible to draw conclusions about the efficacy of your pedaling style and the changes you used in the test. The human body isn't terribly accurate in the determination of at what angle forces are being applied in a pedaling cycle. In general humans are not reliable sensors since we are easily biased, be it subconsciously or consciously.
 

WillemJM

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Originally Posted by alienator .


Willem, note that without data showing power output or torque as a function of crank angle, it's impossible to draw conclusions about the efficacy of your pedaling style and the changes you used in the test. The human body isn't terribly accurate in the determination of at what angle forces are being applied in a pedaling cycle. In general humans are not reliable sensors since we are easily biased, be it subconsciously or consciously.
I agree.

After many years of doing this, it is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks./img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

Since Lance has severed all ties with Livestrong, I guess the linky below is in order, but this is the way I was taught as a Juvenile, Junior and Senior, especially the one leg drills.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/414118-bicycle-pedaling-techniques/

In short, I think we are over analyzing this completely.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Originally Posted by WillemJM .....In short, I think we are over analyzing this completely.
Agreed, but that's what happens when folks try to tackle myths which is what this thread is all about. Those myths are pervasive and folks are steeped in that tradition as the article you linked and many in popular publications illustrate. People are told that good riders pedal circularly or to quote the piece you just linked:

Circular Pedaling Stroke Use a pedaling technique that distributes power throughout the entire pedal stroke. Pedal in circles instead of an up-and-down motion. ... Keep consistent pressure during the entire pedal revolution, advises Dede Demet Barry, lead author of "Fitness Cycling."
It's clear when studied that the advice above is not actually possible but many cyclists believe it and the mythology persists.

So yeah, this thread over thinks the whole thing and pedaling a bike isn't all that hard but myth busting is very, very hard as folks believe what they want to believe and can find plenty of support for their beliefs, that's the insidious part of mythology....

-Dave
 

alienator

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daveryanwyoming said:
Agreed, but that's what happens when folks try to tackle myths which is what this thread is all about. Those myths are pervasive and folks are steeped in that tradition as the article you linked and many in popular publications illustrate. People are told that good riders pedal circularly or to quote the piece you just linked: It's clear when studied that the advice above is not actually possible but many cyclists believe it and the mythology persists. So yeah, this thread over thinks the whole thing and pedaling a bike isn't all that hard but myth busting is very, very hard as folks believe what they want to believe and can find plenty of support for their beliefs, that's the insidious part of mythology.... -Dave
Well said.
 

WillemJM

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Sep 28, 2012
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Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .


Agreed, but that's what happens when folks try to tackle myths which is what this thread is all about. Those myths are pervasive and folks are steeped in that tradition as the article you linked and many in popular publications illustrate. People are told that good riders pedal circularly or to quote the piece you just linked:

It's clear when studied that the advice above is not actually possible but many cyclists believe it and the mythology persists.

So yeah, this thread over thinks the whole thing and pedaling a bike isn't all that hard but myth busting is very, very hard as folks believe what they want to believe and can find plenty of support for their beliefs, that's the insidious part of mythology....

-Dave
Dave, I think we are just struggling with English language.

"Keep consistent pressure during the entire pedal revolution,"

With common sense, we know and I think the author knows this is impossible if we look at this from a technical window, expecting a strain gauge to read the same value through a 360 degree circle. So we use common sense to interpret "consistent pressure" as eliminating dead spots.

"Exerts power throughout the entire pedalling stroke" Again, common sense prevails and we understand that some of this power may be insignificantly small, but it means eliminating dead spots where one leg fights the other. In pure English technical language, if we had to exert a force on the down stroke only absolute zero anywhere else, high cadence becomes impossible, for me anyways, my butt will bounce all over the place.

I don't believe any cat 1 rider, will do a 25 mile time trial in less than 60 minutes, should his feet not be attached to the pedals, making it impossible to have a fluid pedaling style and making it impossible to keep contact with the pedal all the times without one leg oposing the other.
 

danfoz

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Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .

So yeah, this thread over thinks the whole thing and pedaling a bike isn't all that hard...
I don't remember thinking for an instant, or being told by my parents, that I needed to unweight a leg when learning to walk as an infant. Yet somehow it happened.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by WillemJM .
....I don't believe any cat 1 rider, will do a 25 mile time trial in less than 60 minutes, should his feet not be attached to the pedals, making it impossible to have a fluid pedaling style and making it impossible to keep contact with the pedal all the times without one leg oposing the other.
In addition to the charts above which refute your belief I have personal ride data collected on two different occasions that disputes your belief.

Twice I had pedal issues (actually once a pedal issue and once a cleat issue) that temporarily took my clipless pedals out of commission so I slapped my old MTB bear trap platforms onto my road bike and did my scheduled 2x20 Threshold intervals wearing tennis shoes. My power for those efforts was right on par with typical efforts on the days I've worn my normal cleated road shoes and clipless pedals. Yes it was a pain in the ass when my feet would occasionally slip and I'd have to reposition them and I wouldn't have felt safe jumping up into a full out sprint but my power on those days for 20 minutes was right where it normally was and more than enough power to ride a sub hour 40k.

No doubt you believe that it is impossible to generate your normal power without secure pedal attachment but go back and read the linked studies or try it yourself. Again that's the tough part of entrenched beliefs, we hang tightly to them but put your beliefs to the test, you might be surprised.

-Dave
 

WillemJM

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Originally Posted by danfoz .


I don't remember thinking for an instant, or being told by my parents, that I needed to unweight a leg when learning to walk as an infant. Yet somehow it happened.
It took the Wright Brothers (NC First in flight) a long time to figure out what makes a bike turn and what counter steer does, yet somehow it just happens. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 

alienator

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danfoz said:
I don't remember thinking for an instant, or being told by my parents, that I needed to unweight a leg when learning to walk as an infant. Yet somehow it happened.
Are you sure? I'm almost positive that I saw both Mr. Rogers AND Captain Kangaroo both talk about the need to unweight a leg when walking. I remember Captain Kangaroo festooning Mr. Greenjeans overalls and boots with strain gauges to prove his point.
 

WillemJM

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Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .

In addition to the charts above which refute your belief I have personal ride data collected on two different occasions that disputes your belief.

Twice I had pedal issues (actually once a pedal issue and once a cleat issue) that temporarily took my clipless pedals out of commission so I slapped my old MTB bear trap platforms onto my road bike and did my scheduled 2x20 Threshold intervals wearing tennis shoes. My power for those efforts was right on par with typical efforts on the days I've worn my normal cleated road shoes and clipless pedals. Yes it was a pain in the ass when my feet would occasionally slip and I'd have to reposition them and I wouldn't have felt safe jumping up into a full out sprint but my power on those days for 20 minutes was right where it normally was and more than enough power to ride a sub hour 40k.

No doubt you believe that it is impossible to generate your normal power without secure pedal attachment but go back and read the linked studies or try it yourself. Again that's the tough part of entrenched beliefs, we hang tightly to them but put your beliefs to the test, you might be surprised.

-Dave
"Again that's the tough part of entrenched beliefs"

I'm and old dude, the entrenchment lies real deep, I rode professionaly with toe clips before Look arrived on the cycling scene. My other problem is a long career as a PE (Engineer) so I only believe in research I personally supervise. (Just jokin about the supervision)

But, I hear you.

Do you think you will gain a minute or two, with clipless and cycling shoes over tennis shoes on the 40K? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

Ever see a pro crash, because he pulled so hard on the up-stroke, the clipless let go and he loses it? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
 

n crowley

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Originally Posted by danfoz .


I don't remember thinking for an instant, or being told by my parents, that I needed to unweight a leg when learning to walk as an infant. Yet somehow it happened.

Your objective as a child was to get that foot from position a to b, instinct took over and did it with no difficuilty, cyclists have to get that foot from 6 o'c to 12 o'c, those who unweight the pedal do exactly as they did as a child with no difficulty, those who do not unweight use the lever to push their leg up, wasting torque from the other leg.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by WillemJM .
...Do you think you will gain a minute or two, with clipless and cycling shoes over tennis shoes on the 40K? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
Yeah, the problem with platform pedals for me at least was one foot would occasionally slip and have to be repositioned. That's gotta cost something in terms of a moment here and there where you're not focused on the task at hand. My power numbers for 20 minutes were pretty typical so it couldn't have been more than a couple of watts in terms of actual lost pedaling time but the concentration thing would really suck in an actual time trial and I suspect a distraction like that could easily cost you a couple of minutes over your best possible performance. I also think for a beginner there's huge value in having your feet set properly on the pedals so they don't develop bad habits like pedaling with their heels or moving their feet all over the place on the pedals but for someone that's ridden a while with decent pedals and cleats it's not hard to figure out where to place your feet on the pedals. But mostly I think the pedals are a confidence and security thing. Don't get me wrong, secure pedal systems are great and I hate to ride without them, just that I don't believe they give me extra power which make the sales pitches around power transfer of one pedal brand vs another all the more ridiculous.


...Ever see a pro crash, because he pulled so hard on the up-stroke, the clipless let go and he loses it? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
Pro's nothing, I've seen it and nearly had it happen to myself more than once. For a while I tried the road SPD pedals, the early versions that used the same cleats as the original MTB SPD pedals. I pulled out of those things way too many times and gave up on those pedal systems. I never actually did the full over the bars face plant but came damn close too many times. I broke a Speedplay X2 spring cleat in a crit sprint a couple of years ago, pulled out the right foot as I jumped hard and the clip broke and the body english trying to avoid crashing released my left cleat. There I was heading over the bars about fifty meters from the line with both feet out of the pedals and in the air. Somehow I managed to get my weight backwards and landed on my top tube with both feet scraping the ground Fred Flynstone style. I didn't want to grab any brakes as I just barely had the bike under control and skidded to a stop just over the finish line. Quite the spectacle but I was just happy I hadn't gone over the bars and still had all my teeth. And on the track, man I've seen some ugly fixed gear crashes from folks pulling out of a pedal where you'd better stay attached if you want to stay upright.

-Dave
 

danfoz

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Originally Posted by n crowley .



Your objective as a child was to get that foot from position a to b, instinct took over and did it with no difficuilty, cyclists have to get that foot from 6 o'c to 12 o'c, those who unweight the pedal do exactly as they did as a child with no difficulty, those who do not unweight use the lever to push their leg up, wasting torque from the other leg.
I understand all these concepts about scraping mud, toe'ing down, applying force horizontally across the 12 oclock position, etc. as having spent many years moving my legs around the axis which the crank allows have had ample time to play with doing different things with my legs on the bike, but I am having a hard time believing there is a population of folks who are applying downforce on the upstroke that the downstroke leg has to compensate for. The scenario you describe above sounds about as unwieldy as rubbing ones stomach and patting ones head at the same time, at least thats what it sounds like to me.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by n crowley .


...those who do not unweight use the lever to push their leg up, wasting torque from the other leg.
Yes some no doubt do that for about as long as a toddler shuffles their feet on the floor or IOW until they figure out there is an easier way.

It's really not hard to learn to pedal a bicycle. Again look at the charts from the Mornieux study above and notice how even the Non-cyclists gravitate quickly towards the same pedaling style of the Elite-cyclists and have very little back pressure on the backside of the stroke. That's untrained and it doesn't take a whole lot more training before the curves look even more similar but so far efforts to 'improve' on this natural pedaling have been shown to be counter productive.

This stuff really isn't rocket science and if anything this demonstrates that the cranks on a bicycle are well suited to transferring rider's motions into rotational energy to drive the wheels.