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Old 05-04-07, 10:53 AM   #1
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Improving pedaling with a CompuTrainer

Our local Pearl Izumi store has made arrangements with a local cycling coach to set up four CompuTrainer slots in the store. The price for just riding is great, just $15/hour, optional coaching while riding is, of course, more. With the help of the coach, Jack Weiss, I did an anerobic threshold test on it by increasing the wattage by 10 every time my heart rate stabilized while maintaining a cadence of 90 and the same gear. Beginning at 120 watts and ending at 290 I discovered that my anerobic threshold was at a HR of 159 and 230 watts.

I went in the other day just to ride a series of hills and the coach displayed the CompuTrainer's analysis of my pedaling. Different color bars represent different parts of the pedal stroke, with blue being the downstroke and red being the upstroke. In between, there is a whole range of colors, each representing a different part of the stroke. My stroke was very uneven, i.e. very high blue and very low red. He said I was only pushing and not pulling and that I would benefit by doing more pulling. I tried my best but the display barely budged. Then, he showed me the same analysis of two women riding next to me--Their graphs were smooth sine waves--very even. Their downstrokes were more powerful but their upstrokes and all the other parts of the cycle showed significant force being applied. I was amazed. I kept trying to come even close but with little to no success. When I asked them how they said they had just thought about when riding, both on the road and on the CT. They gave the standard advice think about pedaling as if you were a bull pawing the ground or trying to wipe mud off the bottom of your shoe. But, no matter how I tried, I couldn't get my stroke anywhere near theirs in terms of smooth and steady power applied consistently througout the pedal stroke.

I know that one legged pedaling drills are one way to do this and I plan to start doing them regularly.
Anyone have experience with this and any other advice on how I might improve my pedaling or comments on the CT in general?
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Old 05-04-07, 09:41 PM   #2
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Also drive the foot forward at the top of the stroke. It find I get a lot of power from the down foot right after 6:00. Just last year I started to get real power at 12:00.

Yeah, it's really hard to do that. It's a whole bunch of things. Your nerves have to fire at exactly the right moment to contract muscles you don't even have. And you don't even know which muscles to contract when! It took me a year of trying hard before I could pedal three decent pedal strokes in a row. Another year to pedal properly for a 100 yards.

Here's my one-legged pedaling workout:
Warm up in zone 1, 15 minutes
2 minutes left leg at 50-55 cadence, HR immaterial
2 minutes right leg same
2 minutes legs together at 90-95 cadence, HR zone 2
2 minutes left leg at 80-85 cadence, HR immaterial
2 minutes right leg same
2 minutes legs together at 90-95 cadence, HR zone 2
Repeat until really tired, 15-45 minutes, no breaks.
Cool down zone 1, 15 minutes.

Do it indoors in the trainer or rollers. It's much too easy outdoors to be good training.
Try the 15-17 cog for the slow pedaling and legs together
Try the 19-21 cog for the fast 1-legged pedaling
Prop the lazy foot in the frame triangle. Stay in your normal position, centered over the bike. I usually hold the bar tops for the 1-leg and the hoods for legs together.
The gear should be hard enough that you are grimacing the last 15 seconds. You have to keep a taut chain the whole way 'round. That's critical. If you feel the chain going slack, you're screwing up.

If you can't do it for 2 minutes, try a lower gear. If you can't do it in your lowest cog, then do it for as long as you can, and try to increase it 10 seconds each week. Once you can do it for 2 minutes, then start increasing the cog. It will take you a couple of seasons to get good at it.

Other than this drill, just work on it all the time you are riding, just like those women said. Think about it all the time. When you sprint out of the saddle, let your heel come up and pull strongly on the heel cup on the backstroke and then pedal all the way around the circle. That helps, too.
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