FAVORITE BIKE DRILLS
One of the best times of year to make progress on technique and form as an athlete is during the time of year when your race calendar is empty. Often times we call that the off-season, but this year is different. With races postponed or going virtual when the race season was just starting up in Texas, now is a good time to address technique and form issues. And when in-person racing starts up again you will be a stronger and more resilient athlete.
As a coach who really enjoys working with people on technique and form in all three triathlon disciplines, when I am watching a triathlete on the bike, my eye gravitates immediately toward their pedal stroke. Most adult-onset triathletes came to the sport of triathlon without having received guidance on proper pedaling technique. Likewise, we triathletes can also be resistant to working on our pedaling technique, because most of us probably learned how to ride a bike when we were young, so how much skill can pedaling a bike require?
But if you watch any group of cyclists in person, you can pick out the riders who have good pedaling skills and those who have poor pedaling skills. The ones with good pedaling skills make riding a bike look effortless as they pedal in complete circles efficiently transitioning through the different phases of the pedal stroke. While the ones with poor pedaling skills can look like they are wrestling with the bike, rocking their upper bodies and stomping on the pedals.
Triathlon is, in many ways, a sport of conserving energy so that you have enough energy to finish the race strong. Since we spend most of our time on the bike and completing roughly 5,000 pedal revolutions per hour, then it makes sense to work on developing our pedaling efficiency so that we have that little bit of extra energy for the run.
My favorite drill for addressing pedaling inefficiency is the single-leg pedaling drill:
• Set up your bike on a trainer
• Warm up for 10-15 minutes
• Unclip one foot and rest it on a chair next to you. Pedal for 30-60 seconds.
• Switch sides and pedal for 30-60 seconds with the other foot.
• Clip both feet onto the pedals and spin for 60 seconds.
• Repeat 4 more times.
• Recovery for 5-10 minutes with easy pedaling and repeat.
When first starting with these drills, you may notice that you have a dead-spot at the top of your pedal stroke without the added momentum from the other leg your hip flexors get sore quickly. Focus on holding a stable upper body, an engaged core. The goal of this drill is to help you learn how to pedal in circles instead of squares by apply pressure throughout the entire pedal stroke. If you can’t seem to eliminate the spot, try the drill in a slightly harder gear so you have more time per pedal stroke to get it right.
Improving cycling efficiency is a simple way to become a better cyclist. Remember technique is just as important as for improving speed as increasing power/endurance.
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