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Drop your heels!

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Drop your heels!

Old 03-28-23, 09:58 AM
  #126  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
So one year and 114 posts and no one has come up,with any data to show how you pedal much matters.
Capmal S and Vandewalle H, “Torque-velocity
relationship during cycle ergometer sprints with
and without toe clips”, European Journal of Applied
Physiology. 76: 375-379, 1997


Coyle EF, Feltner ME, Kautz SA, Hamilton
Mt, Montain SJ, Naylor AM, Abraham LD and
Petrek GW, “Physiological and biomechanical factors
associated with elite endurance cycling performance”,
Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise. Vol 23 No 1: 93 – 107, 1990


Jorge M and Hull M “Analysis of EMG measurements
during bicycle pedaling”, Journal of
Biomechanics. 19: 683-694, 1986


Ting LH, Kautz SA, Brown DA and Zajac FE,
“Contralateral movement and extensor force generation
alter flexion phase muscle coordination in pedalling”,
Journal of Neurobiology. 83 (6): 3351-65, 2000
.
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Old 03-28-23, 10:16 AM
  #127  
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Originally Posted by timtak
...

If you are a solo cyclist, whatever you do, avoid riding like the pros of today because they ride in groups (making cycling a group activity, which it always was but more so) using radio controlled pace lines, taking turns at sprinting at the front and then using the slip stream while on the hoods behind. If you are not riding in a group, either adjust your bike to turn it more into a time trial bike and pedal like the pros except in a more aero position, or go old school and Frenchy as described above and pictured below.

Merckx_1967 by Chris Protopapas, on Flickr
And returning to the thread topic, "Drop you heels!", here we have Eddy Merckx demonstrating exactly that; in grand style. (Heel - contemptible mean-spirited scoundrel likely to double cross a pal. From Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.)
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Old 03-28-23, 07:50 PM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
And returning to the thread topic, "Drop you heels!", here we have Eddy Merckx demonstrating exactly that; in grand style. (Heel - contemptible mean-spirited scoundrel likely to double cross a pal. From Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.)
I would not call this old-school (my word?) "bunched up at the back" "French style" "pedalling in circles" "dropping my heels" myself, because I find my heels do not drop below the horizontal but
1) The heels are a lot lower than if I use the more common sprinty, time-trially, style of today.
2) My heels feel like they are dropped due to the way that I am pushing the pedal forward and down from higher in the pedal cycle.
So the appellation is to my mind not inappropriate. You'd need to try it to agree, I think.

I am not sure of the relevance of the other meaning of "heel" but, I do not think that pro bike sellers are necessarily pals. If that makes me a heel, then I am heel.

Originally Posted by PeteHski
Is it just me, or is this difficult to understand?
Not at all. I find it difficult to understand even now, and found it difficult to do for about 20 years.
But I am getting the hang of doing, if not explaining it.

Last edited by timtak; 03-28-23 at 08:00 PM. Reason: I have found some pro bike sellers to be really nice
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Old 03-28-23, 09:28 PM
  #129  
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Drop critical thinking…
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Old 03-29-23, 03:30 AM
  #130  
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Originally Posted by timtak
1) The heels are a lot lower than if I use the more common sprinty, time-trially, style of today.
I'm not convinced there is actually a common pedalling technique used by today's pros. There may be a trend toward using less saddle setback and generally higher cadence, but I see a pretty diverse bunch when it comes to things like heel drop. Some riders pedal prominently toe down, others much more flat footed and it varies with both cadence and power output. I believe most people have a tendency to drop their heels more with low cadence and high torque e.g. when climbing. But I think the main factor in whether or not we drop our heels is driven mainly by our individual anatomy and natural preference.

I think this is a good summary from Steve Hogg (who is pretty thoughtful when it comes to this kind of thing).

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...-what-is-best/

quote from the above article:-

"So which technique is best?

Some years ago I was loaned some old footage of the greats of yore. Amongst these were three 5 time Tour winners; Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault.. What stood out to me in the footage was that Anquetil pedaled with pointed toe, even up the cols. A Toe Dipper extraordinaire. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Merckx, as big a Heel Dropper as you are ever likely to see. In the middle, Hinault was the personification of Joe Average. Each of these riders won 5 Tours and a whole lot of other stuff and can lay claim to being one of the greats, if not THE great of their respective eras.

What that also tells me is that pedaling technique is not a defining characteristic of cycling excellence. I will stop short of saying that a rider can’t train to change their pedalling technique, but most attempts I have seen come unstuck as soon as the rider is in a high load, high heart rate situation. Under those circumstances we tend to revert to what comes naturally to us. Would it not be better to accept what comes naturally and refine it by doing it a lot? "
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Old 03-29-23, 05:49 AM
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Leave it to nature? So, why bother having a forum at all :-)? I jest.

I don't know about "cycling excellence." However, er, it seems to me that there is more than one way to pedal.

I did it the obvious way, by stomping, sprinting toes down so as to be able to push past the bottom of the stroke. The bottom of the stroke is the problem. This worked fine and I was fast especially if I mimicked a time trial position (durr, of course, of course).

I was like others in that I did not want to be told anything so when CarbonFibreBoy recommended a more traditional saddle position I responded (this about 20 years ago) 'I don't want to cycle with my butt'. I had sciatica at the time. I'll leave butt cycling to cycling purists I thought.

Little did I know that butt muscles are really important to old men. When I got to 56 I had issues. I just about cured them, with great difficulty, by off the bike exercise, but the great thing, great thing, great thing about "heel down" (?) old school, bunched up at the back, Frenchy cycling is that you use your butt muscles so that after a ride you feel like you have done several rounds of golf or deflowered as many virgins and have a great feeling of butt health. You may need to be an old man to appreciate this.

And it was not apparent to me that there were other ways to cycle.

I am not sure about cycling excellence but I recommend trebuchet-ing your way to butt health if you are an old man. It may even be good for all solo amateur cyclists.

The pros know how to ride like pros (in pace lines / in pelotons).

There may be other ways of pedalling. If anyone has other ways I would be interested.

Last edited by timtak; 03-29-23 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 03-29-23, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Leave it to nature? So, why bother having a forum at all :-)? I jest.
The Hogg in that article suggests worrying more about your position on the bike and your functional conditioning - and then let nature sort out the appropriate pedalling technique for that position and your functional constraints.

"the only ‘secret’ is to be the best version of yourself that you can be, relative to the time and motivation you have. Your pedaling technique can change with changes of equipment or position but that is your nervous system’s natural response to changed input parameters. So my view is that rather than worry about your pedaling technique, worry about your bike position; worry about the way that you function; work to improve both and the pedaling technique that results is the one that your central nervous system determines is the best for you."

So maybe you just found a better position for yourself that happened to promote more heel dropping. But it's not going to be a universal solution or anything we should be consciously trying to replicate.
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Old 03-29-23, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I'm not convinced there is actually a common pedalling technique used by today's pros. There may be a trend toward using less saddle setback and generally higher cadence, but I see a pretty diverse bunch when it comes to things like heel drop.
Interesting to read about the reduced saddle setback trend (although there is a UCI 5cm minimum setback). Maybe because racers are using more aero positions on their road bikes?

I have for many years used a smaller than regular setback, as I felt it harder to put force into the top of the pedal stroke from "the back seat".

I guess there's some physiology to support the shorter setback idea, as it makes the hip angle wider, and anyone who has done leg presses knows it's hardest to produce force when your knees are closest to your chest.




When I'm climbing and get into a steep section, I naturally will sit up taller with hands on the tops and flatten my back, which makes it easier to put increased force into the pedal stroke. Apparently, the flat back thing also helps produce pedal force.



Terry sitting up with a flat back
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Old 03-29-23, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
I would not call this old-school (my word?) "bunched up at the back" "French style" "pedalling in circles" "dropping my heels" myself, because I find my heels do not drop below the horizontal but
1) The heels are a lot lower than if I use the more common sprinty, time-trially, style of today.
2) My heels feel like they are dropped due to the way that I am pushing the pedal forward and down from higher in the pedal cycle.
So the appellation is to my mind not inappropriate. You'd need to try it to agree, I think.

I am not sure of the relevance of the other meaning of "heel" but, I do not think that pro bike sellers are necessarily pals. If that makes me a heel, then I am heel.

...
My post was entirely in jest; referring to Eddy Merckx once again dropping every competitor in the race (both the likable ones and the "heels") and soloing on for yet another win. I wasn't commenting on his pedaling style at all.
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Old 04-04-23, 08:59 AM
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My guess is that heel down is more aero. It not only exposes less of a leg to airflow, it keeps the foot at a more aero angle, and also it lets the rider fit onto a smaller more aero frame. There you go............
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Old 04-09-23, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I



Terry sitting up with a flat back
I used to ride like you Terry, for a long time. It was okay. I found that if I made my stem very long, and use short (spinacci size) aero bars I could also get my torso out of the wind / reduce my frontal surface area for extra speed in the same pedalling position.

I only change to "heels down" because my butt became weak, but it is another style and it has its merits. As Beng1 suggests it may be more aero.

I would especially recommend it to those that want to exercise their glutes, which I think is important in older people.
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Old 04-10-23, 08:55 AM
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Err... I found it is feasible to paddle with more heel down AND in the time trial position. I just lowered my seat by 2mm. I think I can push a harder gear with the same perceived effort, but gets tired quicker. Win win?
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Old 04-10-23, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Interesting to read about the reduced saddle setback trend (although there is a UCI 5cm minimum setback). Maybe because racers are using more aero positions on their road bikes?

I have for many years used a smaller than regular setback, as I felt it harder to put force into the top of the pedal stroke from "the back seat".

I guess there's some physiology to support the shorter setback idea, as it makes the hip angle wider, and anyone who has done leg presses knows it's hardest to produce force when your knees are closest to your chest.




When I'm climbing and get into a steep section, I naturally will sit up taller with hands on the tops and flatten my back, which makes it easier to put increased force into the pedal stroke. Apparently, the flat back thing also helps produce pedal force.



Terry sitting up with a flat back
I like your climbing position. I find that a flat back engages the glutes more. As it was explained to my by physical therapy that when the back is rounded, the glutes are de-emphasized and the power comes mostly from the quads. There has to be a counter force and that is now transferred to the back - not good. The only purpose of the back muscles is to keep ones posture.

What I do to get to Terry's position is to raise my chest, imagine a lighter grip on the handlebar. This will flatten my back. Now it is about the ability to rotate the pelvis. If the pelvis rotates freely and the hamstrings are flexible, the position that Terry has generates power from the glutes and quads and the back muscles are only used to hold posture. Hence, ones back gets less sore on long climbs.

Terry the pic of the TT position is a bust. The power of the internet. Show a guy with a poor hip angle with his head in the wind. Priceless. When I did my Retul fit and aero testing the pro fitter, who sets up international teams and UCI pro riders, put me at 21 degrees of hip angle which was in the range in their data base of pro and international riders. My back was flat and my head was turtled to keep it out of the wind. Next I used short cranks to keep from closing off the hip angle.

That position took months of strength and adaptation to ride a full power. So yes, an advanced aero position takes a lot of practice riding in order to get full power and so many times pro cyclists, who are not time trial experts, ride a less aero position because they are not competitive in the time trial but excel in the mountains.
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Old 04-14-23, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by StargazeCyclist
Err... I found it is feasible to paddle with more heel down AND in the time trial position. I just lowered my seat by 2mm. I think I can push a harder gear with the same perceived effort, but gets tired quicker. Win win?
I think that is the intelligent way to do it, with finesse, by (I presume) changing the angle of your foot to shin to an acute angle in the first push part of the pedal stroke.

Having pedalled toe down for so long, I wasn't used to changing the angle of my foot, so I rotated my whole lower body hips/butt included so that I was more recumbent, and no longer in a time-trial (back) position. This meant that my back is/was bent.

I am now experimenting with ankling. Another advantage is that you can use your calf muscles too. I am finding that if I load up my foot into an acute angle with my shin in the glute part of the pedal stroke then I push forwards more explosively with both my calf and thigh, but I am uncoordinated, so using all three muscle groups is difficult for me.

But maybe that is not how you do it at all.
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Old 04-15-23, 01:10 PM
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I've received with a '73 bike, a pamphlet from Schwinn/A. Fred DeLong. It speaks of ankling in your pedal strokes.


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Old 04-16-23, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by streetsurfer
I've received with a '73 bike, a pamphlet from Schwinn/A. Fred DeLong. It speaks of ankling in your pedal strokes.


It's in writing, so must be true.
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Old 04-16-23, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
It's in writing, so must be true.

but it was never posted on the internet, other than an analog copy after the fact, so it can’t possibly be true
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Old 04-17-23, 06:13 AM
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I am new to ankling having done it only for the past few days but it is going well.

Schwin's book says "ankling is the trademark of the good cyclist." This is clearly not true bearing in mind that many or most in the pro peloton, from the late nineties, or the turn of the century, moved to a toe down type of pedalling style and won.

But this may be because
The advances in the media allowing anyone with a phone or computer to view the tour de France
The greater number of people cycling
The bigger more profitable bicycle manufactures
The more money in the sport
The greater ability to employ elite cyclists as support cyclists
The increased use of radios by the teams
resulting in enhanced teamwork and
POSSIBLY the increased use of drugs by the cyclists
that turned the grand tours into sprint relays in which a five minute sprint relay toe down style of cycling was paramount, thereby resulting in a cycling style, and bikes that were, and are unsuitable to the majority of solo cyclists.

However, Tom Pidcock ankles and breaks away. If he continues to be successful, he may result in a reappraisal of the ankling style.

Originally Posted by PeteHski
It's in writing, so must be true.
It's irrelevant, so it must be witty.
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Old 04-17-23, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
However, Tom Pidcock ankles and breaks away. If he continues to be successful, he may result in a reappraisal of the ankling style.
This is an instance of the more general:

<successful pro cyclist X> cyclist:
  • trains a certain way
  • has a certain coach
  • rides a certain style
  • uses a certain bike/component
and if we want to be faster, we should all duplicate what <successful pro cyclist X> does.

Which is ridiculous. Let's not forget:
  • LA pedals a high cadence, so you must "spin to win"
  • LA's trainer, Chris Carmichael, is a genius, and we should all do what he says
  • Contador dances on the pedals, so you must learn to do the same
And more recently, Pog gets training advice from Dr. San Milan, so we need to take his claims as gospel, too. Which leads to the zone 2 training craze, based on bogus exercise physiology.
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Old 04-17-23, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Schwin's book says "ankling is the trademark of the good cyclist." This is clearly not true bearing in mind that many or most in the pro peloton, from the late nineties, or the turn of the century, moved to a toe down type of pedalling style and won.

But this may be because
The advances in the media allowing anyone with a phone or computer to view the tour de France
The greater number of people cycling
The bigger more profitable bicycle manufactures
The more money in the sport
The greater ability to employ elite cyclists as support cyclists
The increased use of radios by the teams
resulting in enhanced teamwork and
POSSIBLY the increased use of drugs by the cyclists
that turned the grand tours into sprint relays in which a five minute sprint relay toe down style of cycling was paramount, thereby resulting in a cycling style, and bikes that were, and are unsuitable to the majority of solo cyclists.
So, pro cyclists have adopted a toe down style recently because people with cell phones and computers can watch the TdF? wtf? Your 'logic' becomes more ludicrous with every post.
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Old 04-17-23, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
So, pro cyclists have adopted a toe down style recently because people with cell phones and computers can watch the TdF? wtf? Your 'logic' becomes more ludicrous with every post.
I am arguing that one of the factors in the change in pedalling style is

The increased viewership of the grand tours, not only by people on the roadside, not only by television broadcasts, but by all the media sources that we have these days,

lead to a great deal more investment in the sport, greater financial incentives, greater motivation to ride a group style of race by all but one participant in each team.

One might be persuaded to think that ankling is simply slower than the style currently used, due to aerodynamics, or efficiency when in fact, in my humble (and clearly ridiculous to some) opinion, the change is largely due to external factors which changed the style in which grand tour race.

Last edited by timtak; 04-17-23 at 04:27 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 04-17-23, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
I am arguing that one of the factors in the change in pedalling style is

The increased viewer ship of the grand tours not only by people on the roadside, not only by television broad casts but by all the media sources that we have these days

which lead to a great deal more investment in the sport, greater financial insetives, greater motivation to ride a group style of race by all but one participant in each team.
Yeah, that's total nonsense.
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Old 04-17-23, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
This is an instance of the more general:

<successful pro cyclist X> cyclist:
  • trains a certain way
  • has a certain coach
  • rides a certain style
  • uses a certain bike/component
and if we want to be faster, we should all duplicate what <successful pro cyclist X> does.

Which is ridiculous. Let's not forget:
  • LA pedals a high cadence, so you must "spin to win"
  • LA's trainer, Chris Carmichael, is a genius, and we should all do what he says
  • Contador dances on the pedals, so you must learn to do the same
And more recently, Pog gets training advice from Dr. San Milan, so we need to take his claims as gospel, too. Which leads to the zone 2 training craze, based on bogus exercise physiology.
I would not go so far as to say "ridiculous," but overall I agree with all that you say, including that there is a "general" tendency for the style of successful riders to influence the way that other people ride, for better or for worse.

At the same time, there has I think been a recent tendency to ride with toes down due to the fact that not one but many pro cyclists ride in that way -- it seems to be the trend.

While a trend may be a better indicator that the style of an individual both may be optimised for the conditions pertaining to the group of riders, or individual rider, that uses the style, and may not be appropriate to the person who is informed (copies) it.
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Old 04-18-23, 03:02 AM
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I'm going to quote this part of what Hogg says about pedalling - both conscious and unconscious. There is no right or wrong way to pedal, just different ways to suit different people. We see this from recreational riders right through to the pro peloton. The pros tend to pedal both faster and harder than recreational riders, but they don't all apply the same technique.

"3. Force feedback from the feet. We have a bundle of neurons in the lumbar spine called the Central Pattern Generator or CPG. This is what sends the signals to the leg musculature saying in effect “Switch extensors on and flexors off / switch flexors off and extensors on” that allow us to push on the pedals. This process is overseen by, but not directly controlled by the cerebellum unless you are consciously focusing on the task. Now I’m sure that you can consciously focus on the task, but don’t try and tell me that in a hurly burly sprint at 60 km/ h you are thinking about how you are pedalling. You are not. You are doing your best to push on those pedals and yank on those bars as hard and as efficiently as you can. This is not a conscious process. It is a conscious decision to sprint and possibly to back off a bit here, or accelerate through that gap there, but the pedalling process is not within your conscious control under these conditions.

It is within you conscious control on flat roads at 25 km/h if you choose it to be, because the load is light and there’s plenty of time to ‘play’ with pedaling technique if you choose to. But who cares?

Riding at slow speed and light load has it’s place, but when the pressure is on and the wattage rises, don’t worry about your pedaling technique. Accept what comes naturally to you and refine it by doing it (riding) a lot. What results is the best technique for you, for who you are functionally and for the position (good, bad or indifferent) that you have on your bike."

Last edited by PeteHski; 04-18-23 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 04-18-23, 03:04 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak

At the same time, there has I think been a recent tendency to ride with toes down due to the fact that not one but many pro cyclists ride in that way -- it seems to be the trend.
Is this "trend" even real? I appear to have missed it.
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