Of all the things I have worked on to try to increase my speed and power- interval training, hill repeats, dialing in my bike fit, and so on - the one that really makes a really big difference is making sure I am generating power throughout the pedal stroke.
When I concentrate on my pedaling technique - making sure to push forward over the top and pull back at the bottom - there is a noticeable increase in speed without a large increase in perceived effort. My guess is it amounts to almost 2 MPH at the same effort at modest speeds (e.g., 21 MPH vs. 19). Maybe it's a little less.
The trouble is that it only happens when I concentrate on it. If I am not paying attention, I revert to pedaling squares (power only on the up and down strokes) or even worse, mashing (power only on the down strokes).
Yeah, I know that it takes time and that I just have to keep concentrating on the technique until it becomes instinctive. But it seems like it's taking a long time (almost a year?)
People have recommended doing single leg drills to help the process, but they feel totally unnatural to me. I've done them (admittedly not too much), but then when I'm back to two legs, I don't feel like it's changed my unconscious pedaling style.
So for those of you who have already developed perfect pedaling form, how long did it take?