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Thread: Riding tip #1

  1. #1
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    Default Riding tip #1

    So in an effort to put my money where my mouth is here's a riding tip -

    * ride consciously. There are some folks out there who look "right" on the bike and pedal so beautifully and you can see them from a mile away. Some seem to think that by doing huge mileage that they will develop that same smooth and powerful stroke. The mileage is certainly important but IMO the real important thing is to ride consciously. In most cases the folks that have that perfect stroke have developed it not solely by riding a lot but by riding with the technique in mind as often as possible. They are conscious of what they are doing and are actively making choices all the time as to how to pedal. If it sounds like a lot of work you are right. It's hard to ride and think at the same time especially if you are in a group. So my tip is to ride alone and ride with technique in mind. Feel what the pedal stroke is like, the timing of it. Is it smooth and round feeling or are there obvious spikes in it? Ride slowly with light pressure on the pedals and concentrate in technique. Do not try to go fast. There will be plenty of time to do that later. For now just focus on the technique itself. Make mental notes as to what feels "right" and what doesn't. If you ride slowly without the mental pressure to go fast you will be much more open to make changes to your stroke. We all have those slow recovery rides during the week. Don't just sit on the bike and mindlessly turn the pedals but ride consciously.

    As you start to change your spin then you can add power to it. If you start to add power and your spin goes to shit back off and get the spin right and start the process over adding speed and power over time. You can't rush it.

    The important thing in my mind is that one needs to not just spin the pedals and "try harder" but one needs to make changes to be better. Doing things the old way is, in effect, practicing bad habits. No one need to do this. The fast guys out there are often not the strongest. What they have is a combination of strength, technique and efficiency that allows them to go faster with less effort.

    Ride consciously and actively.

    Over and out.

    dave
    D. Kirk
    Kirk Frameworks Co.
    www.kirkframeworks.com


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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    Consider it "taped to the bars". That way I don't forget what I'm doing after each doggie incident.

    This makes the user fees here seem quite reasonable. ;D






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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    Nice work!

    I find the need to pay attention to what my upper body is doing. I take note of the shoulders and try to keep my back straighter and bend from the hips instead. The good thing is that I ride alone a lot and in the morning when there are no distractions.

    -Eric
     

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1


    riding is an exercise in mindfulness.


    shrink, terrorist, poet, president of concerned cyclists for the abolishment of bovine source bicycle parts and head of the disaffected commie dishwashers union.

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    Well put Dave. My career is basicially change management. Change is first about making the bad habits conscious....until we realize when we are doing things wrong, it's impossible to replace them with new better things. Your idea of riding consciously is the epitome of that idea.

    Len
     

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    Ok, so Dave took the first brave step. Now we must be brave to ask the "stupid asshat" questions, otherwise it's a wasted effort. I did great in school because I asked questions all the time, I mean dozens of questions until I got the gist of whatever. I'll go now on a mindful ride.
    Fit is directly proportional to fitness.

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    Default Riding tip #2

    #2 and then it's time to cut pipe.

    * let me first say that if you are a strong devotee of the KOPS deal then you will strongly disagree with what I'm about to share. I personally think that KOPS is as valid as standing over the top tube and seeing how much room between your crotch and the top tube. All one needs to do is look at the two fastest type of bikes out there - the new school time trial bike (knee way in front of the spindle) and a recumbent (knee more than a bit behind the spindle) to realize that this knee-pedal thing is crap.

    That said here is a way to get your ball park fore/aft saddle position. Note I'm not talking about reach from saddle to bars. Saddle to bar reach is a separate deal and should not be adjusted by moving the saddle fore/aft. Reach is a function of toptube/stem length.

    1) put your bike in a medium easyish gear and ride up a very gentle grade. I use a 42-17 up a slight grade where I can maintain my natural cadence of 85ish without great effort.

    2) put your hands on the tops of the bar next to the stem and ride relaxed like this for a bit. Let your body fall into a natural arch and relax.

    3) now, with your body relaxed, lift your hands from the bars WITHOUT sitting up or changing the angle of your hips and lower back. Lift just the hands off the bars. Just and inch or so. Do not sit up.

    3a) if you can do this without strain or by using a great deal of core strength then your fore/aft saddle position probably isn't bad and is in the ballpark.
    3b) if you have a hard time doing this even after a few tries then it's a pretty good bet that your fore/aft deal could use adjustment. If you tend to fall forward when your hands are lifted it's a good bet your saddle could go back. If you tend to fall back then your saddle is way too far back. The latter is pretty rare.


    This test, like all tests is not absolute or perfect but I've found it to be a good general rule. I think more folks will find themselves falling forward (instead of backward) and need to move the saddle back. Most folks that have had a fitting that is built around KOPS will have a saddle that is too far forward and will put too much pressure on their hands (I'm still not talking about reach here). This will make folks want to fit shorter stems and to raise the bars. This will have the double negative whammy of making the bike handle like shit and make you want an even shorter-higher stem.

    By having the feet the right distance in front of your hips your ass and lower back muscles (the best ones you got!) can easily hold your position. You can try this right now in your chair while you should be getting some work done - sitting in your chair put your heals 6" in front of the chair on the floor. Lean forward a bit. Easy as shit eh? Now move your feet back so the balls of your feet are under the leading edge of the seat and lean forward a bit. It's takes much more core strength to hold this unnatural position. It's the same basic deal on the bike. Your feet support you and the added weight on your feet can be put into the pedals. If you pedaled with your hands then having a lot of weight on them would kick ass.

    Give it a try. If you descide to make changes make them very small and a little at a time. I little can go a long way.

    Time to make the donuts,

    dave

    D. Kirk
    Kirk Frameworks Co.
    www.kirkframeworks.com


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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    Excellent post DK.

    I remember reading an article in Road Bike Action magazine back in the early-mid 90’s about pedal stroke and climbing. This article touched on many of the same points that you covered. One of the things I pulled from that was always concentrating on my pedal stroke. Not to the exclusion of all else, but after a while you can do it without really thinking about it. Maybe a better way to say it is that you get better at multitasking and managing multiple actions/techniques at any given time on the bike? My climbing improved dramatically after I started concentrating on my pedal stroke. Concentrating on circles yes, but I also find alternating my technique from concentration on the upstroke for a number of intervals, then switching and concentrating on the down stroke for a number of seems to keep me fresher longer and on top of the gear. Sure power to weight ratio play a big role, but I think I can climb as well as I do for someone my size because of it.

    Another thing I’ll do at times is to spin out in a gear on the flats and so how long I can stay smooth with my pedal stroke. Perch myself on the saddle, relax and try to be as smooth as possible. I think this is one of the things that helped me in my pseudo sprint wind-ups from 400 meters out. Perfecting a good hammer-spin worked for me quite a few times.

    From pedal stroke to upper body positioning and movement, I find it fun and illuminating to work on being as smooth as possible on the bike.


    William
    You know you're semi-good looking...

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    The most beautiful riders out there cycle with power that is so fluid and seemingly effortless.

    You know I'll break out that French word again, but souplesse, hardly a good translation in English, but supple, well positioned, and fluid.

    None of that is attained unless you thoughtful on the bike- metacognition, thinking about your thinking, or in this case, thinking about how you are riding, and self correcting in the act, en vivo, in swoops words.

    All of this takes work, and perhaps that is where some defensiveness comes in against those that see riding as a pedal mashing contest.

    I've posted this poem by billy collins before- I love it because it is relevant to so many skills- I'm insulted when we try to beat cycling with a hose to try and find out what it means. This isn't an elitist position, but simply one that supposes that cycling well, like many things, requires work and and mindset that is reflective and open to feedback.

    Poem Number 1

    Introduction to Poetry
    Billy Collins

    I ask them to take a poem
    and hold it up to the light
    like a color slide

    or press an ear against its hive.

    I say drop a mouse into a poem
    and watch him probe his way out,

    or walk inside the poem's room
    and feel the walls for a light switch.

    I want them to waterski
    across the surface of a poem
    waving at the author's name on the shore.

    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.



     

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    here's an exercise in conscious riding.
    focus on feeling what's going on underneath the tires through your feet, your hands, and your ass. ride from your core. let the bike communicate to you. its always in a dialogue with you.



    shrink, terrorist, poet, president of concerned cyclists for the abolishment of bovine source bicycle parts and head of the disaffected commie dishwashers union.

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    nice post bro i do the no mind ride and sit there and try to feel the wind the bike
    sometimes i feel like I am watching all this happening like I'm not really doing any of this ..
    cheers
    I love bike racing

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    When I was a kid racer in the '70s we rode fixed all week...to learn pedal stroke, how to sit on the bike, how to ride consciously. There's a lot about the obligation to pedal and maybe no brakes that will teach you to ride well. Just a thought. Careful out there.
    Qui plume a, guerre a. Ce monde est un vaste temple dédié à la discorde.

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    I feel that riding the fixed gear has helped me so much with this pedal stroke issue. On my Saturday ride my buddy and I spent about 20 miles of the ride on a trail with no traffic and no worrying. I found I was able to focus on my technique. Maybe it is cheating as the fixie pedal stroke kind of does it for you. It has been so long since I rode geared that I wonder if it will translate. One way to find out , huh?

    What do you guys think about this. Is it cheating? Will it translate to the derailleuered bike? Am I wasting your time? ;)
    Should we ever have the opportunity to ride together you will understand my avatar.

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    Default Re: Riding tip #2

    Dave,

    another great post! Keep 'em coming.

    This is by the way exactly the method that Andy Kappes taught me as were growing up riding together (before he turned pro). I have since used it when people asked me about their position - it works for a lot of people.

    Anxious to learn more.
     

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    Default Re: Riding tip #2

    I have to try this. Very cool. As it happens, this question is something I've been wondering about as I ride and this sounds like a good test. Better than shifting around on the saddle which is what I've been doing.
    Tom Ambros

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    Default Re: Riding tip #2

    KOPS hurt my knees. Moving my saddle down and back helped my knees.

    Good ole' biofeedback is the best "fitter" of all.
     

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    hey eric from my point of view you get good at what you do more fixie ridiing better at it you get
    it is the big gears of a geared bike that hurts me now since i ride fix 90 % of the time
    but riding a greaed bike is very easy unless i go fast ..but all the track stands and stuff make for more balence on control on the bike ..imho
    cheers
    I love bike racing

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    Default Re: Riding tip #2

    The only use for KOPs I've got is when looking at stock bikes and riders who's fit is f'd up.
    I double check their cleats, than look at saddle on rail position and note if they have a setback/straight post.
    Now I use a vertical laser to check KOPs to see if we are either a bit behind, dead on or a bit forward.

    I guess it's a reference point, def. not a standard to achieve.

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    Default Re: Riding tip #1

    Quote Originally Posted by ericspin
    What do you guys think about this. Is it cheating?
    Riding can't be cheating, can it?

    Thanks for the post, Dave. Things I've thought about before, but not in the way you recommend.

    Two stupid questions in Catulle's honor:
    1. Is there some idealized definition of spin that I should be thinking about? To William's point, I like to think about my spin when climbing--but I think about pedaling across the top, front-to-back as it were, pushing then scraping the mud off my shoe, and it makes me feel like my stroke is much more complete. Read it in Lemond's book and haven't let it go.
    2. Where, physically, do you feel the difference when you concentrate on your spin? I feel it in my calves, which may indicate I don't engage them enough.
    Dan Fuller, local bicycle enthusiast

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    Default Re: Riding tip #2

    I like to do long climbs with my hands by the stem and light pressure, because my old cross country running coach told me relaxed hands make for a relaxed body. Then I was fit for my Davidson and Bob didn't change my setback much. Now I know why! Thanks Dave!
    Dan Fuller, local bicycle enthusiast

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