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Am I spinning wrong?

Old 11-10-11, 07:17 AM
  #1  
rotti
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Am I spinning wrong?

I know this probably belongs in another section, but here goes. Everytime I work on high cadence (100+) my knees hurt. This seems strange because I thought higher cadence riding was supposed to be easier on the knees. I think the problem is when I spin my foot floats off the pedal a little. This float is very small, but after 1-2 hours of riding I guess it could add up. When I ride at 90 cadence or so, there is enough force to keep constant contact with the pedal. I guess my question is, do you maintain constant pedal contact when spinning high cadence or just float your foot around in circles? I know this sounds like a stupid question, but when I try to keep constant force with a higher cadence I tire out very quickly. Does this just mean I need to keep working higher cadence so I don't tire out?
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Old 11-10-11, 08:16 AM
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Your knees shouldn't really hurt from not pedalling hard. Maybe try to find a balance between actually applying some force to the pedals without turning so big of a gear at 100+ that you blow up.
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Old 11-10-11, 08:21 AM
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Sounds like your saddle may be too high and/or a misaligned cleat position.

If neither of these is the case, then adjust yourself to higher revs through baby steps.
Don't force it. Relax the hamstrings and NO bouncing.
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Old 11-10-11, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rotti View Post
when I spin my foot floats off the pedal a little
try using cleats.
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Old 11-10-11, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
try using cleats.
Would it help if he had a moustache?

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Old 11-10-11, 01:32 PM
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rotti
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
try using cleats.
I have cleats, it just feels the my feet float around. It's hard to explain. Thanks for the help.
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Old 11-10-11, 02:05 PM
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Where is the knee pain? Front, back, side, top of patella, bottom of patella, muscular, or on bone / cartilage?
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Old 11-10-11, 02:27 PM
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Ok, on re-reading your question I think I may understand you now. But I'm not sure. So I'll just rattle off some general advice:

1) There's a feeling of "smoothness" that comes with a lot of practice at higher cadences. It takes time to develop the muscle memory; meanwhile you'll feel "jerky" and sensations like "coming off the pedal" or "not keeping up with the gear" are common. Advice: don't pedal so fast that you're bouncing or feeling jerky; just back off a bit and maintain a cadence that's quicker than normal but you can still apply power smoothly. It takes concentration and effort, for me the effort is mainly in my core to maintain stability, and my internal dialog is something like "smooth, quick, round circles"

2) Your knees could well be hurting from some other reason... ordinarily, higher cadences are better for sensitive knees. Rule out position / cleat / injury / overuse problems before you blame cadence.

3) At some point as you increase cadence, your pedaling efficiency will decrease / get choppy. That's not necessarily a bad thing or a good thing, it just is. Part of the reason to practice high cadence is to get used to higher cadences, but also to learn that you can pedal fast a choppy while still laying down effective amounts of power. The closing moments of a sprint, you are likely to be above your max effective cadence but you probably arent able to upshift... so it's good that you have practice and experience to let you know you can keep riding hard even if it's choppy and sloppy.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-10-11, 02:27 PM
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I have neither the experience nor the training to teach this.

I will therefore just relay my intermediate-level experience in the hopes that it may help.

I found, with time, that there is an increasing degree of precision of pedal mechanics that comes only from practice. What I used to consider a smooth pedal stroke may have been enough to keep me going in a straight line on rollers, but it wasn't as efficient as I could be. I re-vamped things ever so slightly, and focused a bit more on the "mud scraping" part of the stroke. (The mental imagery I use is different. I think about loading the heel cup of the shoe rather than the toe)

One positive take-away from this was that I began to think more precisely about which parts of the pedal circle I am in, and where to direct the energy toward maximum efficiency. It took the better part of an entire season for it to become, say, 50% intuitive.

I understand the feeling of the feet sort of bouncing up and unloading the pedals as you speak of. This doesn't really happen for me any more except for the following conditions:

1. when I am incredibly fatigued and the mind wanders into the realm of "I don't want to do this any more"

2. when I do very fast pedaling and am unable to relax (140rpm or more for me, depending on how much I have been training this. Sometimes I can exceed it smoothly, sometimes not)

It all took time, but the main focus was increasing the efficiency of my mechanics to the effect of minimizing motions that pushed the crank in any direction other than tangential. I never "pull-up" on the pedals.

With that said, I still have a long way to go.
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Old 11-10-11, 02:37 PM
  #10  
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Another thought - you might be "fighting yourself" - in an attempt to avoid floating off the top of the stroke, you might be pushing down against the uprising pedal. This would help explain the fatigue and knee pain.

High cadence is mostly about getting out of your own way; the actual forces applied to the pedals are very light (at least, they should be during practice drills).
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Old 11-10-11, 06:39 PM
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thanks for the excellent advice. I think Grumpy and creakyknees are spot on. I'm going to start focusing more and pay attention. Most of the knee pain occurs on the trainer when watching tv. On the road I don't notice as much. I also think the advice of "getting out of your own way" applies. I often find myself focusing on different parts of the stroke rather then the full stroke itself (if that makes sense). Do you guys think one legged pedaling on the trainer would help? Thanks again.
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Old 11-10-11, 08:48 PM
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Lots of stuff to consider, and, I'm not sure that I am interpreting the situation perfectly well. But, I'll toss this out there, as, at one time, in my mind, I had a similar feeling (but, without the knee pain -- and who knows if it really was similar to what you are experiencing). In fact, when I had that feeling, I usually cranked out more power and was faster. So, one consideration is to raise your seat a bit or get the seat back a bit, or something to lengthen your leg. At least play around and see if that floating feeling -- assuming it is not a good thing -- abates when you adjust your position to lengthen your leg (or with any other adjustment).

I, perhaps too often, am in search of the perfect fit. I try to get to a state where I am all set. And, as a result I fiddle. I try a little of this, which leads to trying a little of that. And, this can be a function of my conditioning and flexibility throughout the year. My sense is that you should do some fiddling around and see what comes of it.
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Old 11-10-11, 09:57 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Grumpy McTrumpy View Post
I have neither the experience nor the training to teach this.

I will therefore just relay my intermediate-level experience in the hopes that it may help.

I found, with time, that there is an increasing degree of precision of pedal mechanics that comes only from practice. What I used to consider a smooth pedal stroke may have been enough to keep me going in a straight line on rollers, but it wasn't as efficient as I could be. I re-vamped things ever so slightly, and focused a bit more on the "mud scraping" part of the stroke. (The mental imagery I use is different. I think about loading the heel cup of the shoe rather than the toe)

One positive take-away from this was that I began to think more precisely about which parts of the pedal circle I am in, and where to direct the energy toward maximum efficiency. It took the better part of an entire season for it to become, say, 50% intuitive.

I understand the feeling of the feet sort of bouncing up and unloading the pedals as you speak of. This doesn't really happen for me any more except for the following conditions:

1. when I am incredibly fatigued and the mind wanders into the realm of "I don't want to do this any more"

2. when I do very fast pedaling and am unable to relax (140rpm or more for me, depending on how much I have been training this. Sometimes I can exceed it smoothly, sometimes not)

It all took time, but the main focus was increasing the efficiency of my mechanics to the effect of minimizing motions that pushed the crank in any direction other than tangential. I never "pull-up" on the pedals.

With that said, I still have a long way to go.

Good stuff. The shin muscles should be relaxed, the lift comes from the hamstrings.

One comment on "spin." When a relatively weaker athlete rides with a very strong athlete they often notice how smooth the stronger rider appears and, perhaps wrongly, attributes their strength to the smooth spin. What is really happening is that their spin is so smooth because they are working at a very low percentage of their maximal power. When you test powerful athletes at near maximal power they are not very smooth, in fact some become very "mashy." The greatest determinant of high power is high downward force at the 3 o'clock position.

Last edited by Enthalpic; 11-10-11 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 11-11-11, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Enthalpic View Post
.... the lift comes from the hamstrings.....
and this:

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Old 11-11-11, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by rotti View Post
thanks for the excellent advice. I think Grumpy and creakyknees are spot on. I'm going to start focusing more and pay attention. Most of the knee pain occurs on the trainer when watching tv. On the road I don't notice as much. I also think the advice of "getting out of your own way" applies. I often find myself focusing on different parts of the stroke rather then the full stroke itself (if that makes sense). Do you guys think one legged pedaling on the trainer would help? Thanks again.
If I ride 100 cadence on a trainer at higher power, my knees may hurt as well. On the road, there is a lot of inertia from the mass of the rider and bike and the spinning wheels. On a trainer, the only inertia is the rear wheel and a flywheel if the trainer has one. Even with a fluid trainer, it feels like I am pulsing the power much more than the road. On the trainer, I suggest backing off on the power. It is very early in the season so there is no reason to push big gears.
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Old 11-11-11, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by fordfasterr View Post
and this:

WOW what a great chart! Where'd ya find that?
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Old 11-11-11, 02:46 PM
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images.google.com
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