So I just started actual training, focusing on mostly on my aerobic system right now. I threw in some single leg drills last night just to see how much work my pedal stroke needed. I noticed that my dead zone is at about 11 o'clock. I have a few questions.
1) Is this the typical spot for a dead zone?
2) Is the dead zone occurring because I'm not engaging the muscles on the back of my thigh as I come up and around?
3) As I keep working at it, is my goal to not have a zone?
Thanks for any help.
Yes, IMO that's the most difficult spot. No, it's that your hip flexor isn't strong enough or stimulated enough yet to pull your leg all the way up to where your forward thrusting quads can take over. At the spot in question, your hams are pretty much in full contraction - your pedal is moving concentric to the hip joint. Probably some exercise physiologist on here can explain better than I.
When my hip flexors get tired, I find myself pulling my leg up with my abs. So good abs are nice, too. Yes, you should strive firstly for a taut chain the whole stroke, and then for a steady noise from your trainer.
BTW, do this on a trainer or rollers. It's way too easy on the road because of all the momentum of you and the bike. On the trainer, you've only got rim and flywheel, and on the rollers, just your rims, even better. Kind of no point on a spin bike, either - too much flywheel. But if you don't have either device, then the road is better than nothing.
Try doing some OLP intervals at low cadence - say 50, then some at higher cadence, about your normal climbing cadence. The slow ones will help you examine exactly what's happening in what order, and the faster ones condition your muscles to do it at the right speed.
I do 2 minute intervals with each leg, then 2 minutes legs together to rest. Do them until they don't work anymore. It'll hurt, but you won't believe the difference in your climbing.