Some newbie questions -riding technique
OK, I'm not quite 50 (48), but I feel old enough to qualify.
After not riding for quite a few years, I bought myself a modest touring bike (KHS Flite 220) and I"ve been riding daily for about 5 weeks. I ride 15-20 miles a day on very flat Minnesotan terrain. I try to ride hard for most of the ride, though I don't feel too bad when the experienced bikers whiz by me.
So I think probably my technique sucks - any advice on the following?
1. THe experience bikers are generally in much lower gear than me, but moving much faster. I average about 13 MPH on my rides, and I'm generally in the larger front gear (50 teeth- it's a 2 gear crankset) and the 3rd smallest front gear (don't know the specific size of the gear, but it's a 12-25 8 gear cassette). When I try to gear down, I don't feel like I can gain much power and I end up going slower. What am I doing wrong?
2. I have toe clips, but I'm not sure I use them right. Mostly I am just powering on the downstroke. When I need a little speed or am climbing a hill, I can power on the upstroke for maybe 4 cycles, and that works great, but I don't have the stamina to keep going. Also, when I do that, I lose downstroke power. So when I'm really trying to go fast, maybe I'll pull hard on the upstroke for 4 cycles, then just do downstroke for 10, and repeat. But I can't do that for long....
Any advice would be appreciated.