Okay, I know this will sound silly and contrary to what people teach about riding, but today I was experimenting with a technique which got me to wondering if it actually might be useful. Unfortunately, with varying winds and road conditions, I really couldn't tell clearly. I need it tested on a trainer (or rollers) where conditions are constant, but I don't have either.
Anyway, this is what I was doing. Normally I find my foot on the pedal is fairly flat, with some flexing during the rotation - the toe pointing a little more down near the bottom of the stroke to pull back like scraping off mud, and pointed a little more up as I push over the top.
But part of my ride today, since I had nothing special going on, I tried pointed my toe down for the entire stroke - just guessing, but maybe 45 degrees from horizontal (it feels more pointed than it actually is - I'm not trying to exaggerate it). As a result, the feeling on the down stroke was one of diving straight down (though obviously you still rotate). It struck me that it felt like I was able to drive all the way to the bottom better and, since my toe is pointed down, it isn't a bad position for pulling up (I didn't actually pull up though - just took the weight off on the upstroke).
Several times when I tried this, I seemed to pick up speed. Other times it didn't seem to matter - which is why I need some people to try this on a trainer with unchanging conditions.
There is one recently paved short stretch of road that I sometimes push myself on and time it. I'm not trying to kill myself, but just be aggressive. Today I did it in 92 seconds using this technique. The previous best that I REMEMBER was 95 seconds. Usually it has been 98-101. It is possible I have done it faster, but I don't remember.
Oh, eventually I wore out doing this, but even if it was actually a good technique, I would expect that since I would be working the muscles in a way I'm not used to.
Note I'm not mashing (as I understand the term). I'm still doing 90-100+ rpm.