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Old 08-09-04, 09:12 PM   #1
rykoala
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Hey everybody, I'm trying to get fit but its harder than I expected. Cycling is lots of fun but there are a few things that are showing up on my daily commute that I don't like and I need a hand correcting them.

1) Pedal positioning- Where is the right spot to put my feet on the pedals? Heel? just behind the toes? Arch? Totally lost. One minute just behind the toes is comfy, then the arch, then back... argh!

2) Seat height- Too low and I feel like I'm digging my legs into my gut (yeah I've got a gut) and too high and my hips are swaying back and forth to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. If its high, then it feels like its just the right reach to the top of the pedal stroke, but the bottom of the stroke, I have to reach too much, causing the swaying. If its lower, then I get the bottom of the stroke settled down but the top of the stroke feels like its not high enough. It almost feels like I need longer cranks. Do I?

3) I constantly find myself pedaling, then coasting, pedaling then coasting, over and over. I try to pedal a steady cadence, but I find my legs 'floating' between pedal pumps. If I try to maintain a slower cadence it just doesn't work. Feels like I've got to be b*lls out all the time, or coasting. How do I find a happy medium? Would clipless pedals stop the 'floading' feeling, and make me actually lift instead of lifting my foot off the pedal like it seems like I'm doing now?

Thanks for the time and consideration. I know this is alot of questions but its taking enjoyment out of my cycling.

Thanks!!
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Old 08-09-04, 09:35 PM   #2
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1. With your pedal position, some people may be different but I find that if I have the arch of my foot on the pedal itself, when I go up a hill or just need to speed up I just point my toes to the ground and drive my feet into the pedal, works well for me. All depends on what kind of pedals you have as well, I have the clipless pedals where I can just slide my feet into a little harness.

2. Seat position, I was told and I believe it now, you want your seat positon so that you are not fully extending your legs when you are pedaling. I can't really give any insight on why it works well but ha yeah.

3. You may want to check your gears, I keep mine on the highest gear and I do find that with my clipless pedals that when I pedal going down a large hill going about 35mph that I do just float, after the road levels out and I reach the 24-25mph mark I find that I can start pedaling again without feeling that there is no work being put into it

Im a new biker myself but theres my insight.
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Old 08-09-04, 09:36 PM   #3
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1. The conventional wisdom is to have the ball of the foot directly above the axle of the pedal.

2. If your hips are rocking, the saddle is too high. General rule of thumb is to sit level on the bike. Place a pedal at the bottom of the arc and with your leg fully extended, your heel should just touch the pedal. To low and you suffer knee problems (and, if your case, a bruised stomach), too high and you suffer knee problems (behind the knee). There are formulas that abound (do a google search) but in the end it comes down to what feels right for you.

3. Try a higher gear and take life a little easier. Find a cadence that you like and adjust the gears to fit.
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Old 08-09-04, 10:17 PM   #4
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Foot position: Balls of feet, at least that's where I'm comfortable.
Seat height: As above, you should be able to have your heel on the pedal , which should put your foot in the proper positionas above. Basically when you are pedalling you want your knees to not quite fully extend at the bottom of your stroke.
Gearing: I agree with the others concerning more gear. If you are in the top gear and feel like you aren't getting enough, congratulations, you are getting to be in better shape. With your bike being a mountain bike, but with the slick tires, you are more efficient but you still have mountain bike gears. You should be able to replace the chain rings, or at least the largest. You are probably at about 42t, at least that's what the current Rockhoppers come with. Look into taking that to maybe a 48, which is still a little lower than a roadie, but not too drastic. Be aware that this may require a little longer chain and deraileur adjustments. If you find yourself rarely or never using the lower gears, which I suspect is the case, you might want tosee about replacing the entire set of chainrings so that you have more usable gears for what you are doing with the bike. Talk to your LBS about it and see what they say, as there are bolt patterns to be considered.

Finally the cranks. At your 6-3 height, you may very well need longer crank arms to be comfortable. I know a lot less about this related to these bikes than I do in BMX, but I'd guess that you'd find an extra 10-15 mm. Again, check with the LBS as they are better armed with knowlege and experience in this area than I am.
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Old 08-09-04, 10:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rykoala
1) Pedal positioning- Where is the right spot to put my feet on the pedals? Heel? just behind the toes? Arch? Totally lost. One minute just behind the toes is comfy, then the arch, then back... argh!
get clips or clipless pedals, and you won't have to think about it. around the ball of the feet is good. if your'e getting hotspots, then move your feet further forward.

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2) Seat height- Too low and I feel like I'm digging my legs into my gut (yeah I've got a gut) and too high and my hips are swaying back and forth to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. If its high, then it feels like its just the right reach to the top of the pedal stroke, but the bottom of the stroke, I have to reach too much, causing the swaying. If its lower, then I get the bottom of the stroke settled down but the top of the stroke feels like its not high enough. It almost feels like I need longer cranks. Do I?
longer cranks would make the problem worse. your distance to the bottom of the pedal stroke would be even longer, and your distance to the top of the pedal stroke would be even shorter. if anything you need shorter cranks. i'd recommend, though, to keep the saddle high, and use this technique: _pull_ on your stroke. this will stop the bouncing. if it doesn't, then move the saddle down a mm. there's a sweet spot, find it. for this you'll probably need clips/clipless pedals.

Quote:
3) I constantly find myself pedaling, then coasting, pedaling then coasting, over and over. I try to pedal a steady cadence, but I find my legs 'floating' between pedal pumps. If I try to maintain a slower cadence it just doesn't work. Feels like I've got to be b*lls out all the time, or coasting. How do I find a happy medium? Would clipless pedals stop the 'floading' feeling, and make me actually lift instead of lifting my foot off the pedal like it seems like I'm doing now?
only way to fix this is to get more speeds. but if you already have 10 speeds, just concentrate, and it'll come. get those clipless pedals, they're real nice.

sd
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Old 08-09-04, 11:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rykoala
3) I constantly find myself pedaling, then coasting, pedaling then coasting, over and over. I try to pedal a steady cadence, but I find my legs 'floating' between pedal pumps. If I try to maintain a slower cadence it just doesn't work. Feels like I've got to be b*lls out all the time, or coasting. How do I find a happy medium? Would clipless pedals stop the 'floading' feeling, and make me actually lift instead of lifting my foot off the pedal like it seems like I'm doing now?
Or you could just get yourself a fixed gear and never stop pedalling
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Old 08-10-04, 05:16 AM   #7
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longer cranks would make the problem worse. your distance to the bottom of the pedal stroke would be even longer, and your distance to the top of the pedal stroke would be even shorter. if anything you need shorter cranks. i'd recommend, though, to keep the saddle high, and use this technique: _pull_ on your stroke. this will stop the bouncing. if it doesn't, then move the saddle down a mm. there's a sweet spot, find it. for this you'll probably need clips/clipless pedals.
Good point made here, and I gladly defer to it. I'm still "getting up to speed" as it were on multi-speed bikes, as my bike-mechanical experience relates more to BMX racing. I know that I went to shorter cranks on my son's bike on a particular track to allow him to get more spin, while I went to longer (185 mm at my 5'-10"!) cranks because I had more power than speed. With 3 chain rings to choose and a casette...you can really accomplish the same thing (mostly) with the gears you select.
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Old 08-10-04, 09:14 AM   #8
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There's no way you can take your bike into an LBS and just get a good bike fit? They should be able to use stuff like a goniometer, RADS, and a plumb line to determine optimal settings for your bike.

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Old 08-10-04, 11:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
There's no way you can take your bike into an LBS and just get a good bike fit? They should be able to use stuff like a goniometer, RADS, and a plumb line to determine optimal settings for your bike.

Koffee
That's a very good idea. I'll have to find a LBS that does that. But of course I can't afford that With all this info I should be able to get comfy on the bike. I really think that part of the problem is ME, I'm just not trying hard enough. Some days, I just don't *want* to try that hard, and a leisurely stroll into work will be OK w/ me. But I AM trying to get in shape. I think I just need to schedule in training rides, and l need to learn how to train properly.
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Old 08-10-04, 11:41 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for the awesome replies. I really needed the help. Armed with this info I am going to get in gear (no pun intended) and work harder, and pay attention to form and technique.
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Old 08-10-04, 11:47 AM   #11
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If you fit toe clips (even the mini ones without a strap), your feet will be positioned correctly.
You can then work on your pedalling technique. Pedal in circles. Use a low gear to practice in high revs with little force. Your muscles will soon get used to the new method. If you are a big guy (6'3"??), then you should be using big-guy cranks (175mm).
Dont expect to spin like a smaller rider, but its a sign of a newbie to be straining hard at low revs.
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Old 08-10-04, 02:20 PM   #12
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Thanks MichaelW. I'll get some clips when I have some $$ and try those to see if it helps. I have a set but they are too small. I'm 1/2" short of 6'3". I can actually spin pretty good, but not for long periods. I don't have cadence on my cyclecomputer but at a gym I spun over 100rpm fairly easily on their bike excersize machine, and that was recumbant. I don't even ride bent bikes (yet).
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Old 08-10-04, 02:48 PM   #13
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how long you been riding? it takes a few weeks/months to develop some fitness to where you aren't coasting that much. spin, spin spin...
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Old 08-10-04, 03:08 PM   #14
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Been riding for about 4 months, maybe 5 at the most.
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Old 08-10-04, 03:28 PM   #15
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That's a very good idea. I'll have to find a LBS that does that. But of course I can't afford that With all this info I should be able to get comfy on the bike. I really think that part of the problem is ME, I'm just not trying hard enough. Some days, I just don't *want* to try that hard, and a leisurely stroll into work will be OK w/ me. But I AM trying to get in shape. I think I just need to schedule in training rides, and l need to learn how to train properly.

I've seen bike fittings go as low as $35. If you can't afford the RADs and the goniometer, the least they could do at minimal cost or free is check to ensure your foot is over the spindle of the pedal when the bottom of your forward foot is horizontal to the ground and drop a plumb line over your knee to ensure that you've got some kind of decent bike fit with fore/aft saddle positioning, and they can eye your saddle height and look for overextension of the leg/rocking of the hips or underrotation of the leg or what I like to say "bowlegged riding" (knees flared out at the side). Something like this shouldn't take more than a few minutes once you've warmed up on the trainer.

I'd call them all anyway and get a price quote, just in case.

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