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Losing power in the drops?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Losing power in the drops?

Old 09-13-08, 08:17 PM
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tekhna
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Losing power in the drops?

I was doing a good bit of experimenting today keeping my heart rate and cadence even while switching between riding in the hoods and the drops, and I observed more concretely what I had sort of been observing more casually- when I ride in the drops, I lose a km/hr or so of speed, maybe a bit less. Pretty consistently. My heart rate stays the same, cadence the same, I just lose some power. It's totally counter intuitive, but perhaps it's a positioning problem, or perhaps I've trained my legs to be stronger in the hoods and they'll come around eventually? Any ideas?
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Old 09-13-08, 08:21 PM
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Positioning problem. Seat too low, most likely. When you drop down, your knees may be flaring out too much; hamstrings/glutes taken out of the power mix.

Just a guess....

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Old 09-13-08, 08:47 PM
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My guess would be a flexibility issue. Your hams may be tightening up when you go in the drops. Try some stretching exercises and after a bit of time I bet you will see improvement.
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Old 09-13-08, 08:56 PM
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I recommend you get a fit done by someone who knows what they're doing. I only lose about 1% down in the drops, and I have a pretty aggressive drop (my back is almost completely level).

Also, consider your flexibility. If your quads have to fight your hamstrings to get your legs extended, that will kill your power. I can get my 1st knuckles to the floor with straight legs, and I had to work hard to get there.
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Old 09-13-08, 09:31 PM
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Yes its perfectly normal to lose some power if your handlebars are too low. This is why the pro's trial their position in wind tunnels to get the balance between aero and power right. Try raising the bars a fraction.

Regards, Anthony
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Old 09-13-08, 09:35 PM
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I am confused. I gain speed in the drops even without pedaling faster, due to aerodynamic and positioning. I don't really understand why someone who rides as much waterrockets would lose power?
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Old 09-13-08, 09:44 PM
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Personally I gain speed but lose efficiency from my knees constantly knocking me in the gut.
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Old 09-13-08, 09:59 PM
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I found that I was losing power in the drops until I started working my abs and core strength. What tipped me off to knowing this could be an issue is that one day I rode as hard as I could push myself for 12.5 miles, and at the end of the ride I was feeling like I had strained my abs. Hmm....... Hmmmm..... maybe I need to work on core strength huh?

A few weeks of core exercises really helped. Now when I'm in the drops I feel like I can pedal just as hard as on the hoods. I'm sure there's some drop-off -- I don't have a power meter, so I'll never know for sure -- but it's not as significant as it was before.
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Old 09-13-08, 10:12 PM
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Well, I have absolutely no flexibility, but I guess the yoga I've been doing on rest days will eventually help that. I'll try raising my seat a tiny bit too.
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Old 09-13-08, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
I found that I was losing power in the drops until I started working my abs and core strength. What tipped me off to knowing this could be an issue is that one day I rode as hard as I could push myself for 12.5 miles, and at the end of the ride I was feeling like I had strained my abs. Hmm....... Hmmmm..... maybe I need to work on core strength huh?

A few weeks of core exercises really helped. Now when I'm in the drops I feel like I can pedal just as hard as on the hoods. I'm sure there's some drop-off -- I don't have a power meter, so I'll never know for sure -- but it's not as significant as it was before.

Everything you do comes from the core that's why core training is important in every sport.

Resting too much weight on the bars in any position wastes energy that could be going into the pedals.
Be light on the bars and speed and power gains are realised because more power is coming from the core.
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Old 09-13-08, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ir0nfist View Post
I am confused. I gain speed in the drops even without pedaling faster, due to aerodynamic and positioning. I don't really understand why someone who rides as much waterrockets would lose power?
Losing power is not inconsistent with gaining speed. I've tried a 20m test 100% in the drops, and 100% on the hoods and tops. Power was higher w/out the drops, but speed was quite a bit higher in the drops.

It's really just a matter of position efficiency. When you're bent over that far, your femoral arteries are bent more aggressively, which will restrict flow somewhat. Your glutes and hamstrings are stretched more, requiring some extra power to get them past the high point. Breathing is also restricted slightly through abdominal compression.

1% really isn't that much power loss though. We're talking about 358W for 20' vs. 354W.
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Old 09-13-08, 10:42 PM
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ok, very interesting I was 100% sure you would say that about losing power but not speed. So who knows, maybe I am losing some power as well even tho I am gaining quite a bit of speed.

I am very small and in great overall physical shape (not just cycling shape) 5'6" 140, very lean 6 to 9 % body fat probably, been a while since it was measured. In fact, I was 155 last time it was tested and I was at 8.
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Old 09-14-08, 01:29 AM
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Funny, I tend to be more aggressive when I'm in drops.
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Old 09-14-08, 07:16 PM
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Being aggressive doesn't mean you're putting out more power
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Old 09-14-08, 07:23 PM
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This is normal. The answer is to ride in the drops more frequently. Your body will adapt. Same thing with a TT position, if you never ride it except on race day, your power will be less than riding on the hoods. However, if you ride your TT bike frequently you will adapt. The hoods to drops is just a less extreme example.
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Old 09-14-08, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by redirekib View Post
Everything you do comes from the core that's why core training is important in every sport.

Resting too much weight on the bars in any position wastes energy that could be going into the pedals.
Be light on the bars and speed and power gains are realised because more power is coming from the core.
Isn't core the fancy word for torso? Where is my core? Oh, it's under my Under Armor Marketing works!

As for the question the OP asks, I think it may have something to do with the bike fit. If you intend to ride in the drops more often than hoods, you may want to fit the bike a bit differently. Properly done, move to drops from hoods will make you have increased cadence/power/speed without putting additional efforts in.
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