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Tips For Riding Out of the Saddle

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Tips For Riding Out of the Saddle

Old 11-02-20, 09:30 AM
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GAtkins
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Tips For Riding Out of the Saddle

All,

I'm a 6'4" clyde on a 62cm Trek Domane SLR7. Bike is new and new to me in terms of geometry - <400 miles on this bike. Bike has been professionally fit.

Naturally, when I get out of the saddle I feel top-heavy and "way out in front of my skis", so to speak. Any tips on becoming more confident out of the saddle other than just time practicing riding out of the saddle. As I should, I'll typically shift up to a couple of harder gears and go from there.

Thanks for the help.

Glenn
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Old 11-02-20, 09:58 AM
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I don't know of any other way to learn this other than by feel and practice. I learned to ride a bike as a kid, so of course we did what kids do - try stupid stuff and see what works. So riding out of the saddle was ingrained in my muscle memory decades ago. Of course, falling when you weigh < 50 - 60 lb is a bit different from falling as a full-sized adult, leaving out other issues for those of us who are "of a certain age".

It seems that you need to move your center of gravity back. Your weight should be on your feet, not your hands - that is probably what is giving you the feeling that you're too far forward. Obviously you'll need to stand up straighter to do this, or if still crouched down you'll need to move your butt back and straighten your arms a bit. Maybe try on grass? You'll gain resistance and you'll be slower without shifting up, and if you do fall, risk of injury is minimized. Just don't forget to tuck and roll if you fall, sticking your hand out to break your fall will likely result in broken bones.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:05 AM
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Carbonfiberboy I think had a good video of cyclist Marco Pantini from before the turn of the century in this other thread reply #16 .

My knees need to crack...

Notice he is on the drops not the tops. I've never been good out of the saddle either, but changing my hand position to the drops helped me some. Now I just need to build leg strength because it uses muscles you never use much while seated.

It also is something that I have to do at lower cadences starting out. Climbing seated, then halfway up trying to stand while still at the cadences I pedal seated wind up in near disaster. So shift to three or so higher gears before standing up till you get used to it

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Old 11-02-20, 10:06 AM
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It took me a while to get comfortable with it. All I can suggest is time and practice, but it's not unheard of.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by GAtkins View Post
All,

I'm a 6'4" clyde on a 62cm Trek Domane SLR7. Bike is new and new to me in terms of geometry - <400 miles on this bike. Bike has been professionally fit.

Naturally, when I get out of the saddle I feel top-heavy and "way out in front of my skis", so to speak. Any tips on becoming more confident out of the saddle other than just time practicing riding out of the saddle. As I should, I'll typically shift up to a couple of harder gears and go from there.

Thanks for the help.

Glenn
Apart from the "practice makes perfect" advice, I would say don't shift to too high a gear when you stand. Yes, you want a higher gear so you have something for the increased power (torque?) to work against. Your cadence will be lower, but you still want a smooth steady cadence. I climb out of the saddle a lot, and while I'm comfortable doing so, if I find myself in too high a gear and too low cadence, it does affect the sense of being in control and being in balance. If you're hauling on the bars just to enable you to push down on the pedals, you're compromising your freedom to move your body and the bike to maintain balance. If I'm transitioning from seated to standing on a long climb, to shake things up a bit, I'll shift 1-2 teeth when I stand (I use a close-ratio cassette, so that might be two gears) - no more than that.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:34 AM
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Out of saddle I like two gears higher than sitting. Much easier to "stand" with more resistance in the pedals.
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Old 11-02-20, 06:29 PM
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Takes practice to strengthen the legs, arms and core, which affect balance. Give it about a month to see any improvements before tweaking the bike fit.

When I tackled more standing to pedal I picked a quiet road (lightly used access road nearby) and approached standing like using a stepper machine in the gym. Stand for 10 seconds, sit and easy pedal for a minute, lather-rinse-repeat. I was badly out of shape, recovering from injuries (hit by a car), so it took awhile to get comfortable with standing longer than 30-60 seconds. Now on a good day I can stand the length of a three-quarter mile 1.5% grade, but most days I stand for around 20-30 seconds, sit for about 10-15 seconds, and repeat.

Beyond that, bike fit may need to be adjusted depending on how much you stand to pedal. I often stand to pedal, on the tops for short steep climbs, in the drops for sprints. That felt really wobbly with a shorter stem. So I had to make some compromises between comfort seated and balance while standing.

For awhile I used 90-100mm stems to be more comfortable seated, due to old neck injuries. But it felt twitchy while standing, and while seated on fast curves on rippled pavement. So I switched the old school steel bike back to the original 120mm length, and 110mm stems for the other two road bikes.

I also had to adjust the handlebar height. I didn't intend to slam the stem on my 2011 era carbon road bike with sorta-compact frame, but it felt way too twitchy when standing to climb or sprint even with a 110mm stem. Nearly slammed (maybe a 1/16" spacer) it feels much better balanced now. It's a 57cm or 58cm frame (factory sticker fell off, I don't remember the size), I'm 5'11", so the bar drop isn't all that extreme -- I'm more stretched out, pretty old school bike fit. However it did remind me that I've been slacking off on my home physical therapy exercises during the pandemic. So I'm back to daily exercises for range of motion, flexibility and strengthening.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:18 PM
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I have a couple short little bumps during my morning commute that I practice OOS, and one good size hill on the way home. Just doing this a couple times a week helped it feel much more natural.

Still not as good at that sort of thing compared to many here though.
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Old 11-03-20, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Carbonfiberboy I think had a good video of cyclist Marco Pantini from before the turn of the century in this other thread reply #16 .

My knees need to crack...

Notice he is on the drops not the tops. I've never been good out of the saddle either, but changing my hand position to the drops helped me some. Now I just need to build leg strength because it uses muscles you never use much while seated.

It also is something that I have to do at lower cadences starting out. Climbing seated, then halfway up trying to stand while still at the cadences I pedal seated wind up in near disaster. So shift to three or so higher gears before standing up till you get used to it
Pantani was perhaps one of the only riders I have seen who was on the drops out of the saddle for long periods of time. Trying to emulate that position would be difficult for mere mortals. Although effective in certain circumstances it is not a good strategy if you are trying to develop a good standing position sustainable for extended periods.
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Old 11-03-20, 08:56 AM
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All,

All these tips I have heard/read/researched before and they are fantastic! It's nice to have them synthesized in a nice, concise place. I am practicing almost all of them and have seen (for me at least) great improvement in the last month or so.

Even given my age (57) and physical make-up, I can push a pretty big gear at a slower, but somewhat normal cadence. If I spin in a lower gear it seems like I'm not being efficient. You guys know that everyone has their optimal cadence. Mine does not even approach 100

As this relates to OOS I'm finding that as I come over the top of the pedal stroke, I tend to rush it to help make sure I'm balanced, which actually is not the case. This causes a little hiccup in the drive train in that there's not constant pressure/torque when I come over the top of the stroke. It's a timing issue and I have to wait until the pedal is fully loaded naturally as the pedal comes over the top. When I am able to do this consistently things are much better. I feel more balanced and feel like I'm less likely to go over the front or have other catastrophic failures.

I've been really conscience of this pedal timing issue the last few times out and it has made a big difference. It's hard to describe, but I need to wait until the drive train is naturally loaded. I'm also practicing on flat stretches of road, and more recently on small/short distance rolling hills in my area. Some up to 4% to 5% grades, but not long distance wise. Compared to my Specialized Allez with more aggressive geometry, the Domane is significantly easier to transition from seated to standing and back. I'm going to try and focus more specifically on the tips in this thread, especially practice on quiet roads (which I do), keeping my weight back and trying to increase my leg strength.

Thanks again for all your help.

Glenn
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Old 11-03-20, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
Pantani was perhaps one of the only riders I have seen who was on the drops out of the saddle for long periods of time. Trying to emulate that position would be difficult for mere mortals. Although effective in certain circumstances it is not a good strategy if you are trying to develop a good standing position sustainable for extended periods.
Not sure why the position is difficult for us mere mortals. Since I went from a low cadence masher to a high cadence spinner 10 years ago, I pretty much sit all the time. The times I did try to stand were awkward at best. My hands were on the tops or hoods then. After seeing the video and trying with my hands on the drops, I found that it seemed I had more control and better all around feeling. Because of that, I've gotten more interested in working on my standing. Of course I guess since my bars are so low, it's more just raising my butt up in the air than standing.

I'm not certain any of us here are suggesting riding out of the saddle for extended periods of time. And for the most part I don't see myself ever going back to the mashing days of my youth. It's just that it might be a good thing to be able to do well. Shoot, you never know, Murphy might have your seat post snap off just when you are about to beat others in your group to the top of a hill, so knowing how to stand might be important. <grin>
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Old 11-03-20, 04:47 PM
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OldTryGuy suggests standing for longish periods as a training thing, say 1-2 miles on the flat, as well as a getting used to it thing. I agree. To get better at standing, stand more. Standing for long periods is helpful for working out the kinks and seeing what works best for you. There's a 500' hill on one of our regular routes. When I can stand all the way up it, I know I'm in good shape. Well, I used to do that a few years ago. Don't know if I still can. I'll have to give it a try next summer. All that said, I don't normally climb OOS, but it's good to have it in your quiver and being better at riding a bike makes one a little faster. Climbing, I have to drop my cadence about 10 beats when transitioning to standing so my HR doesn't jump too high. I also have an issue I'm always working on, which is that I tend to accelerate when I stand. I don't want to do that, well, unless I'm attacking or whatever.
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Old 11-03-20, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
Pantani was perhaps one of the only riders I have seen who was on the drops out of the saddle for long periods of time. Trying to emulate that position would be difficult for mere mortals. Although effective in certain circumstances it is not a good strategy if you are trying to develop a good standing position sustainable for extended periods.
I was surprised to discover standing while in the drops works for me, because my physique is nothing like Pantani's. I'm 5'11", 150 lbs.

But my arms are reasonably strong from lots of pushups, while my back is weakened from injuries and resulting mild scoliosis exacerbated by different leg lengths. It's not obvious, nothing anyone but an ortho doc or chiropractor would notice unless they'd seen my X-rays.

I found standing to pedal while on the hoods efficient for most hill climbs, but only if there's no headwind. With a headwind it's very inefficient -- lots more frontal area acting like a sail.

One day on a long, gradual 1% climb (there are several in my neighborhood), on a lark I decided to try using the drops while standing to pedal. It was surprisingly comfortable, and more efficient into the wind.

It looks gawky as hell because I'm a tallish stringbean. Especially with only a 110mm stem -- I'm way over the front of the bike, but still balanced on climbs (it wouldn't work so well on downhills). I might try a 120mm stem again on my old steel bike to see if my neck flexibility has improved with PT.

If my back was stronger I probably would stick with the hoods while standing, and still do half the time. But standing while in the drops on some climbs, especially while sprinting, works well for me. I just needed to switch from a short 90mm stem to something a bit longer to balance it out.
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Old 11-04-20, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Shoot, you never know, Murphy might have your seat post snap off just when you are about to beat others in your group to the top of a hill, so knowing how to stand might be important. <grin>
Ha, had that happen to me last Saturday, strangely enough. The saddle clamp bolt (single bolt clamp) snapped on a fast descent. The bolt was ... 25 years, 5+ months old, so I guess it was due. Fortunately I had a significant amount of my weight on my feet, so although I was suddenly precipitated a couple of inches down towards the top tube, that was it - other than almost pissing myself, of course. I managed to find all of pieces to the saddle clamp (yay!! I even found the snapped bolt), so I was able to get a new bolt at the LBS - at no charge, not even for getting part of the rusty bolt out of the clamp. Thanks Cyclesport!

I was only a few miles from home, so after 20 min. or so of out-of-the-saddle riding, including a couple of climbs, I was home and off to the LBS. The hardest part wasn't riding out of the saddle, but shifting. I have bar end shifters, it would have been even tougher with down tube shifters, and getting a drink while pedaling was, obviously, out of the question. The most stressful part was worrying that I'd rip my tights on the exposed seat post but I managed not to forget and sit down on the exposed seat post..
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Old 11-04-20, 08:02 AM
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I spend a lot of time out of the saddle. I would never place my hands on the top of the bar, between the hoods and stem. I always have my hands on the brake hoods for best steering control. Also would never change a stem length or saddle height to accommodate standing. Those are set for seated riding.
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Old 11-04-20, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
Pantani was perhaps one of the only riders I have seen who was on the drops out of the saddle for long periods of time. Trying to emulate that position would be difficult for mere mortals. Although effective in certain circumstances it is not a good strategy if you are trying to develop a good standing position sustainable for extended periods.
+1. Pantani had his back flat while out of the saddle - remarkable, cool to watch, but perhaps not to be imitated by those starting out and maybe not an indicator of optimum bike fit for everyone. Flexibility on this seems to be key, trying out different options and seeing what's more comfortable. Some folks say getting out of the saddle should be partly for comfort, for change of position, giving some parts a break while stressing others.
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Old 11-04-20, 08:48 AM
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Indurain was the first guy I saw using the drops a lot when climbing, both in and out of the saddle:



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Old 11-04-20, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Shift three to four gears up (instead of two), that will force you ito an even lower cadence (hence, less power) preventing you from accelerating when climbing OOS

I do it during group rides for many good reasons to get OOS without out-pacing the group.
It's the other way 'round - I shift too many gears. I have to learn to pedal faster while standing even when my legs are tired. I'm more powerful at lower cadences. Climbing, my practice for 20+ years has been to shift up one ring plus 2 cogs and then slowly pull away from the line behind me, which I don't really want to do.
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Old 11-04-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by randallr View Post
+1. Pantani had his back flat while out of the saddle - remarkable, cool to watch, but perhaps not to be imitated by those starting out and maybe not an indicator of optimum bike fit for everyone. Flexibility on this seems to be key, trying out different options and seeing what's more comfortable. Some folks say getting out of the saddle should be partly for comfort, for change of position, giving some parts a break while stressing others.
Nothing to it if one has been riding for a while. DaveSSS is correct that if your seated fit is correct, standing using the drops should be easy. Reasoning the other way, if it's not easy, your seated fit may be incorrect. Your seated fit is correct if, seated with hands on the hoods, back straight, your upper arms form a right angle with your torso. Then when you stand, your bars will be in a comfortable location.

When one stands, one's butt moves forward. Thus one's hip angle opens and it actually takes less flexibility to ride hands on drops while standing than it does while seated. I just started standing this way. The first time I tried it, I rode 2 miles no problem. I was shocked. Except for the effort, it's quite relaxing.
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Old 11-04-20, 12:11 PM
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You ride out of the saddle for either of two very different purposes: short, intense efforts or longer, steady-state efforts. The mistake many riders make is to unthinkingly and substantially increase their pedaling force whenever they're out of the saddle, even for longer efforts. Riders should be able to ride out of the saddle on longer efforts with about the same or only slightly more pressure on the handlebars (and pedals) as with seated efforts.
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Old 11-04-20, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Nothing to it if one has been riding for a while. DaveSSS is correct that if your seated fit is correct, standing using the drops should be easy. Reasoning the other way, if it's not easy, your seated fit may be incorrect. Your seated fit is correct if, seated with hands on the hoods, back straight, your upper arms form a right angle with your torso. Then when you stand, your bars will be in a comfortable location.

When one stands, one's butt moves forward. Thus one's hip angle opens and it actually takes less flexibility to ride hands on drops while standing than it does while seated. I just started standing this way. The first time I tried it, I rode 2 miles no problem. I was shocked. Except for the effort, it's quite relaxing.
Agreed. I have fun pretending Pantani, too, on the drops. What I don't attain is the Pantani flat back, given my handlebar/stem configuration.
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Old 11-04-20, 02:10 PM
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Never thought about using drops while standing until recently when I saw some footage of a recent pro race. Thought I'd try it. You know what? I like it. I am on drops most of the time anyway, but I automatically go on the hoods when I stand.
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Old 11-05-20, 03:20 AM
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It's been interesting to compare the techniques of different riders on the Angliru in the Vuelta, especially 2013 and 2020. Chris Horner was out of the saddle quite a bit on the final ascent where it's 20+%, but he looked relaxed. Unfortunately between the fog/mist and botched camera work, some of the final ascent duel between Horner and Nibali is missing -- apparently a motorcycle mounted camera doing the live feed fell.

In the 2020 Vuelta stage 12 on the Angliru, Hugh Carthy and Sepp Kuss looked equally comfortable mostly seated and spinning until the final stretch when Carthy was obviously suffering, looking very gangly and barely in control when standing to maintain momentum. Kuss was holding back to support Roglic and reserving just that fraction of effort enabled Kuss to look remarkably comfortable throughout the ascent. He apparently had plenty in reserve, although sometimes it takes only a fraction more effort to blow up, so who knows whether Kuss could have won that stage had he not held back to perform a support role. A lot of it is a mental game and Kuss wasn't under the same pressure to respond to every attack or close every gap, but instead rode steadily with an eye on Roglic.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:39 AM
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The problem with trying to analyze riders on the Angliru is that they were trying to conserve effort, knowing that even small accelerations could put them in danger of blowing up. Carthy’s agonized riding was probably a reflection of his acceleration.
One technique or tool in my arsenal is being able to maintain different cadences while out of the saddle. One way to conserve energy on the most hideous climbs, even “ rest “ is going to a very slow cadence in a low gear. One of the great things about being at a high level of fitness is that recovery can be very quick. Ten or twenty seconds “ resting “ can really make a difference.
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Old 11-05-20, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
The problem with trying to analyze riders on the Angliru is that they were trying to conserve effort, knowing that even small accelerations could put them in danger of blowing up. Carthy’s agonized riding was probably a reflection of his acceleration.
One technique or tool in my arsenal is being able to maintain different cadences while out of the saddle. One way to conserve energy on the most hideous climbs, even “ rest “ is going to a very slow cadence in a low gear. One of the great things about being at a high level of fitness is that recovery can be very quick. Ten or twenty seconds “ resting “ can really make a difference.
Yup. I've re-watched the 2013 Anligru stage a few times this week, and the mistake Nibali made was repeatedly trying to attack from the front to shake Horner loose. All it accomplished was blowing up Nibali while Horner chugged along steadily. And being unable to shake Horner may have blown Nibali's confidence. Even after opening a gap, Horner stayed cool and steadily closed the gap.

It's hard to say how much a factor the crowd was. It was insane during the 2013 final ascent, between unruly fans -- crazy even by grand tour standards -- mist/fog, very little room for riders or motorcycles to navigate, and apparently one camera motorcycle fell. Nobody claimed the motorcycle was a factor in the outcome, but it was an indication of how rough the conditions were for the riders.
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