Old Raleigh Mtn Bike & 2004 Specialized Allez Triple
Question about pedal-foot motion
Newbie. be gentle on me.
Growing up when I road bikes I pretty much pedaled with the bottom of my foot horizontal with the ground beneath me. But from the bits and pieces I have read, it sounds as if I should be putting a different spin with my pedals. I am now using clipless pedals.
If someone could help describe the proper "foot motion" for road cycling I would appreciate it....or just point me out to a webpage.
I was taught to "ankle", not just keep your feet at the same angle all the time. When I raced, I watched and tried to emulate Rebecca Twigg--she had great form. (Newbie hint: Rebecca Twigg was one of the top, if not the top, woman racers in the 1980s. She did road, crits and track).
Watch the riders with really good form and see what they do. I see alot of folks with pointy toes all the way around the pedal stroke. It's not pretty, and I don't think it's very efficient. Flat-feet doesn't seem too efficient, either.
There is a good bit of talk about toes down, float fore and aft positioning or other postures for the foot while pedaling. My feet are generally level while pedaling. I am also clipless. There are several pieces of advice which I have found useful.
Keep RPM (cadence) as high as you can (80-90 is good). Raise & lower your gearing to allow for a steady pace.
Practice working a smooth full circle during pedaling. One legged pedaling exercises can help with this.
As your foot crosses the top and bottom extremes of your pedal stroke, the motion should mimic the touch and feel of scraping a soft mess (mud or dog doo) off the bottom of your shoe.
The best advice though is make sure you are as comfortable as possible in your fit on the bike, making small incremental adjustments as necessary and ride, ride, ride.
the angle of my foot changes depending on the effort i need to put out. for climbing my foot is nearly flat or even a bit of a heels down, for quick spinning on the flats my toes point downward a little (heels up). i can't generate too much new power with my toes down, but i can maintain a quick cadence that way.
whatever position works best for you, try doing some pedaling exercises with only on foot at a time as webist suggested above. you'll quickly find out where the dead spots are and learn how to pedal in a circle, as they say.
basically, "ankling" is when you drop your heel a bit at the top of the pedal stroke, and then point your toe a bit on the stroke between 3 o'clock and 8 o clock or so. the idea is that you want to propel the crank around the whole circle, rather than just push down. dropping the heel at the top of the stroke allows you to push the pedal forward. your foot should be about level at 3:00, since thats the time where you are actually pushing straight down. pointing te toes down a bit on the botton half allows you to propel the pedal backwards and up, instead of just letting the other side push the pedal back around.
Some older cycling books and articles recommend the practice of "ankling." This refers to changing the angle of the foot fairly drastically during the course of the pedal stroke, so that the toe is pointed upward at the top of the stroke, and downward at the bottom. The idea is to make more use of the muscles of the lower leg, and to permit "pedaling in circles", i.e., applying more force to the cranks at top and bottom dead center.
This practice is pretty much discredited these days. If carried to an extreme, it can cause injury. This happened to me when I was a teen-ager; I had read about ankling, and had just acquired my first pair of toe clips, just before setting out on my first overnight tour. I ankled for about the first 30-40 miles, when there was a sudden sharp pain in one of my Achilles tendons. I had to lower the saddle, remove the toe clips, and finish out the 4 day tour pedaling on my arches, because I couldn't bear the slightest load on the front of my foot, pulling on the Achilles tendons. For about a month thereafter, I would need to massage my Achilles tendons for about 5 minutes each morning before I would be able to walk. 40 years later, I've still not completely recovered from this injury.