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muscle memory with new clipless pedals

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

muscle memory with new clipless pedals

Old 09-07-04, 04:52 PM
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muscle memory with new clipless pedals

This is my first time using clipless pedals, and I have to admit, they are awesome. but, i do have to admit, it seems to be taking quite a while to get used to them. My muscle memory keeps forgetting that I can apply power throughout the entire cirmumference of the crank, rather than just on the down stroke.

How long does it normally take to get used to these things? I have had them now for a couple weeks and have ridden about a half a dozen times (6 hours). I am still waiting for my legs to get used to them.

Or, is their some technique I need to use to get the full effect of the benefits of these?
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Old 09-07-04, 05:07 PM
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That's a good question. I find that I am having just the opposite results. Specifically, I just put clipless pedals on after a long time riding without them (had an MTB, now have a road bike). I've found that I'm using my muscles more to pull up on the pedal vs pushing down more than I'd like (although still pushing with more force). I can feel that my quads aren't getting quite the same workout as when I didn't have the clipless pedals. I'm trying to make a conscious effort to use my legs to push down on the pedals since this is the best source of power.

I can't say that my transition was completely new however. I used to ride my MTB with clipless pedals 5 years ago and did so for the previous 3 years. I don't remember how long it took me to get adjusted back then, but I do remember feeling weird about pulling up on the pedal, it didn't feel natural at first.

I would just make a conscious effort to pull up on one leg while pushing on the other. Eventually, you'll get used to it and it will be come second nature. I'm not really a model to follow however, you should definitely be using much more power on the leg that's pushing and not the leg that's pulling.
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Old 09-07-04, 05:14 PM
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It's really that you have to learn how to pedal all over again - you probably didn't want to hear that! If you went from nothing to clipless, you're totally used to letting up with one leg while the other mashes down on the pedal. Now you have to always be conscious of your legs working together to make the effort more even and consistent versus one-than-the-other, that is, until it becomes unconscious for you! At first, it seems harder, because you have to both develop technique and muscles that you are not used to using, but this will dissipate with time and experience.

Good luck!
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Old 09-07-04, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by greenstork
...I can feel that my quads aren't getting quite the same workout as when I didn't have the clipless pedals. I'm trying to make a conscious effort to use my legs to push down on the pedals since this is the best source of power.
Did you find this true even when you were riding varied terrain? If you used clipless on a MTB, wasn't this the same for you - how did riding road change this for you? Just curious Thanks.
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Old 09-07-04, 05:24 PM
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I found the thing that really helped me get a real benefit out of clipless pedals was by doing one-footed pedal drills. Just find a flat road and pedal with one foot clipped in and the other not even touching its pedal. You'll find the "dead" spots in your pedal stroke real fast! A little of practicing like that goes a long way. When you put both feet back on the pedals, just make sure you're still feeling the same sensations in your legs.

I still do a one-foot pedaling drill once a week for a bit of practice -- you can always improve your spin.
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Old 09-07-04, 05:32 PM
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Just another thought... If the one-footed pedal drill I mentioned in my other post sounds boring / dangerous, etc... The other drill is to find a downhill grade. Pop it into a low gear -- i.e., the type of gear you'd use for climbing said hill. And then just pedal. There will be absolutely no resistance. If you're over-emphasizing the down-stroke portion of your pedal stroke, you'll bounce yourself all over the place. If you're really pedalling smoothly, you should be able to really wind up your cadence into the 150 range.
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Old 09-07-04, 06:06 PM
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Well I'll bring this up again to see how it flies. Greg Lemond stated in his book that you do not pull up but just unload the weight of the foot on the up part of the stroke. I can see pulling up once in a while for a burst of power and speed but as a regular thing it is not supposed to be efficient over the long haul. Pushing over the top of the pedal stroke and pulling back at the bottom works very smoothly once you learn the ins and outs of it. Pedaling in circles is one of the very important things to learn about biking.
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Old 09-07-04, 07:20 PM
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Not to complain guys, but it seems like just about each of you had sort of a differant answer. haha

I'm so confused.

I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.
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Old 09-07-04, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Patriot
Not to complain guys, but it seems like just about each of you had sort of a differant answer. haha

I'm so confused.

I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.
This is the old simple answer...think circles, round and round
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Old 09-07-04, 07:44 PM
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LOL

I finally got a straight answer.
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Old 09-08-04, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Patriot
Not to complain guys, but it seems like just about each of you had sort of a differant answer. haha...
Not if you're paying attention! Like Zen said, it's all about the motion. Using the one leg drill merely forces you to focus on using the circular motion to move the crank arm around the full circle, enabling you to develop good pedaling habits and also forcing you to notice where your technique is a hindrance rather than a help. Then you gotta put it all together!

Best to do the one-leg thing on a trainer if you have one...
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Old 09-08-04, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Steelrider
Did you find this true even when you were riding varied terrain? If you used clipless on a MTB, wasn't this the same for you - how did riding road change this for you? Just curious Thanks.
I've been riding my MTB on the road for the past two years without clipless pedals and I've really built up my quads over that time. Since switching over to a road bike with clipless pedals, I've found that I use my whole leg to pedal, sometimes even pulling (although obviously with less force than I push on the downstroke). I've just noticed at the end of longer rides now that my quads are much less tired while other parts of my legs, including hamstrings, feel a little sore.

I have a feeling this is just related to working different muscles groups with the clipless pedals. And perhaps it is a function of having a sleek new road bike but I could go easily twice the distance and not feel as tired as on my MTB.

To answer your question, when I'm climbing, I'm usually over the top of the pedals pushing down hard, when I'm aggressively attacking a hill. When I'm tired however, I do sit up and pull on the pedals a little more.

EDIT: I'm sure this isn't a "best practice" and I realize that. I'm definitely working on my spinning but I just wanted to answer steelrider's question.

Last edited by greenstork; 09-08-04 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 09-08-04, 02:36 PM
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Steelrider you took the words out of my mouth but I didn't bother to post it, but glad someone else had the same thought.
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Old 09-08-04, 04:44 PM
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Will try the one leg thing.
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