Introduction: Pedaling - the Gentle Thrust Technique
Hi folks - I would like to introduce to you a cycling technique I have observed and use for all of my cycling, from riding my Uni to my regular two wheel Penny Farthing - to clarify that this is not some quirk my wife who had not ridden a bike for over 25yrs now uses this style and also a member of the family that works in the cycle trade (and cycles every day) - both ride different kinds of bike and the technique works well for them too.
Note before beginning - this technique is not for road racing,stunts or thrashing around like a mad bleeder - what it allows you to do is go long distances with very little fatigue, if any, even if you do not ride regularly - it takes a little thought,feels a little odd at first and yes it defies standard pedal thought to a certain degree - - try it for a while and give it a chance, you might just add it to your biking routine.
Also - this style is for flat terrain and mild gradient - when ya need to dig in, well, ya need to dig in - change your foot position if required.
Ok lets go.
Step 1: P1 - Leg Set Up
Ok lets start with a really important component - leg set up.
Riding a Uni shows ya very quickly how important correct leg extension is - ride with a saddle set low and until your really good you'll wobble all over the place - now you might think this does not really matter on a bike but try riding with a low saddle and then a correctly set up one, nothing else, you'll see the difference quickly.
So first off - set up your saddle height so that when seated, at the bottom of your pedal stroke (see drg purple line) your leg is almost straight, just the slightest bend.
Try a good ride with a low saddle, then like this.
Step 2: P2 - Gentle Thrust
To continue - check out the drawing.
If you check out pedaling techniques on the net you will probably encounter a clock face scenario with many planes of different kinds of thrust, in the different areas - not here.
The red arrow indicates the thrust area - just past the top of the stroke and ending a little below the quarter mark - on other examples this will be longer,and, when going up an incline may do so here too, but as a rule pretty much as seen.
Unusually - the blue area indicates a large section of free wheel and here is the key.
Go for a ride - now as your pedaling begin to use less push, less thrust, keep up your speed but notice how little effort is needed to keep going - a small push in the section marked on the drawing will quite happily work well. Ok, as your pushing only in this small area allow your feet to just rest on the pedals and the muscles in your legs relax as they reach just past the quarter mark - left side push then free wheel - right side push then free wheel etc.
Let your feet just rest on the pedals - notice how as the bike rolls on your feet are lifted for you, around and up to the top of the stroke - and push. All of that distance that you are not pushing, your resting those legs - But! keep them moving, free wheel without
movement and your muscles might stiffen - the action of allowing the muscles to be manipulated for you is like doing a work out and then bringing yourself down before resting but it is happening constantly - look at the amount of effort you put in and how much rest time the bike gives you back - three times more.
Step 3: P3 - Foot Position
Yup - that really is my long distance ride.
When I started riding again I got on my bike and rode - - first thing I thought was "flippin eck, this is hard - I will need to get into shape". Part of the problem was foot position.
Must folks ride and push with the toes or ball of the foot (all good in the right context), but we are interested in energy conservation and fatigue removal. Go on a tread mill - man do those calf muscles get sore quick - why - pushing with your toes or ball.
Thrusting with the ball of the foot makes you use muscles that for this exercise you do not need, giving sore lower legs and knees in my case.
Now move your foot - a safe place for the foot is with the front of your shoe heel against the the pedal (pushing with the middle of the foot), but if ya feel confident and want to try it, the best place is with the heel pushing directly onto the pedal (little more tricky to do as it can slip off - be aware) - feels weird but give it time and a chance. What we have done is remove a linkage and whole muscle group, allowing for a straighter, more direct push into the pedals from the upper thighs. It is not the job of the foot and lower leg muscles to transfer the power in this instance anymore.
Along with the free wheel technique all in the family have said the same thing or similar, "I can go for miles and miles without getting tired legs" - and we are talking miles
Step 4: P4 - Our Rides
Here is my wife's bike - nothin special and only 20" wheels.
Mine - Well - she is not your normal long distance runner - - only 29" front wheel so no mounting step needed - the other bike is a mountain bike, used every day - - all quite different.
No one is trying to re write the rule book - this technique has allowed two middle aged, fairly unfit adults to go for many miles, with little or no fatigue, no worries about how far we have gone, no pounding hearts and no pulled leg muscles that take days to heal, but mainly, from day one, the ability to enjoy! the ride.
If your just ordinary folks then maybe you'll like this system too.