Friday, July 09, 2010

Tour De France - Flats

What to look for.

Watch the Tour De France and note the different styles being used on the flats. Some spin and some push a big gear. So what to think about?

Spinning in a moderate speed or pushing a big gear can both be used. You should learn to be proficient in both of the methods.

Spinning requires the coordination and timing to smoothly pull the ankle up before the mid-foot, with the correct force, producing the same work as pushing a bigger gear that really cooks your legs. You are using the kinetic energy (swing weight) to help you move down the road, in which helps you maintain a good pace. Find a good gear that is moderate in the small chain ring.

Its the same as riding a fix gear and it keeps you from pedaling in squares. Even the smallest pause will be noted. Thing of it as ropes pulling around the back of the inside and outside ankles. The focus allows the mind to get past the dead spot at the bottom and allows you to flex your legs quicker. Remember raising of the knee pulls the heel along, they are attached.

This method really tests your saddle height. If you start to bounce the saddle is too high!

Now watch the people who use the big gear. Learning to adapt to a big gear is a great time to work on your pedal stroke. You must work on powering the pedal through the complete cycle. Your hip and knee flexors can't be of help here, they can't handle the strain. The legs are moving slower so your mind can keep up with them regarding the direction of force. Play with the ankle angle at the top to determine the best way to get through the top dead center (toe down vs. heel down). Think about pushing the crank arms around from the end of the cranks, not the center of the bottom bracket. It also strengthens muscles as it really works them. Focus on your sit bones being firmly back into the saddle as a point to push from. You can really make some distance, but you really spend a lot of energy.

So there you have it! There is not a ideal position, but it will serve you well to keep your chest horizontal, head down, shoulders rounded and good stability on the saddle. In both cases, stability of the pelvis is key for either performance. And waste is a sign of decrease of the output! Your arms are very helpful in stabilizing your pelvis, just don't stiffen them up and pulling of the bars works best when out of the saddle. The novice will be seen pulling and having a death grip!

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