Tag Archives: cycling

Why is stability important for long term athletic success?

Success as an athletes depends on an intact joint, strong muscular support, and specific control from our brain to use the right amount of force for the job. But what happens when our joint is chronically damaged? Is your career over? Let’s take a detailed look at how the body adapts, and even improves with stability training.

Warning: I shot this quickly between patients…..there is some fast talking going on at times…….

Lesson of the day: don’t hold back

A nice reminder to keep your eye on the big picture, but remember to enjoy yourself….
“The idea is to become an old wizard; to live a long and fruitful life and have a family and be healthy and enjoy the ride. And speaking of the ride, why not let it rip? At least just a little bit. Everyone I know who’s really stoked about getting out of bed in the morning does that to some extent.”
–Laird Hamilton

Road vs. Cyclocross Bike Fit: what’s the difference?

A lot of hype concerning the difference between fitting a road bike and a cyclocross bike could be cleared up if we all agree on two simple things: put the engine in the right place, and then adjust for handling and comfort. Let’s break this down.

Saddle position

Your pedals are driven by large muscles surrounding the trunk, hips and knees. In fact, about 98.8% of the force you deliver to the pedals comes from your hips and knees. That’s right, the ankle only produces a very small percentage of your total power. So it makes sense to have the saddle height and setback (also called for-aft position) the same between your road and cross bikes to maximize power production. Why would you select a saddle position that compromises power output? Keep it simple. If you like your current saddle placement on your road bike, there is zero reason to change it on your ‘cross bike.

Handling and comfort

Good bar position allows you to move around while properly weighting the front end for corners and technical terrain | Photo © Jill Rosell Photography

Good bar position allows you to move around while properly weighting the front end for corners and technical terrain | Photo © Jill Rosell Photography

Okay, now here’s where things are a bit different. Instead of rolling your slick tire down fresh asphalt, you’ve got to contend with dusty pumice, wet grass, rocks, roots, and the nutrient ‘crossers crave: mud! In short, it’s critical to have a good handling front end. This means that you want to have a little less weight on the front so that you can lift your front end over obstacles easier. Careful though, too little weight on the front end will bring your torso too upright make it hard for your front tire to bite and send you skittering wide towards the outside of the turn. Let’s see how this all plays out in fit.

  • ‘Cross bikes typically have a higher bottom bracket. If you were smart, you’d kept your saddle in the same place as your (properly fitted) road bike.  This means that your saddle is higher in the air than your road bike. Since your saddle is higher, your handlebars also need to be higher.
  • Hand-grip placement for optimal handling: A lot of people rarely use their drops on their road bike. Then when on the ‘cross course, they find that they are forced into the drops on steep downhills to brake and get a better grip on the front end. Most riders find the bike is much more stable when conditions get squirrely if they use the drops. So if you are going to be in the drops, make sure you are comfortable.

So what’s the secret recipe to make sense of it all?

It’s simple really; the goal is to get the bars a bit “closer” to you. And you can do this in three different ways. You can run a shorter stem to move the bars closer, you can run your bars higher (by putting a few spacers under the stem or by using a stem with more rise), or a combination of both. I typically recommend that riders start by raising their bars first (because this usually only means moving spacers or flipping a stem). Setting up the bars with some combination of “up and back” will allow you comfortable access to the drops for good grip and handling, and while still allowing you to have optimal engine placement so you don’t lose any precious watts.

Powerful, sketchy, and somewhat comfortable. Yeap; sounds just like ‘cross racing!

Circles vs. Squares: What’s the best shape for a powerful cyclist?

If there was ever a good topic for an episode of Mythbusters, it would be this: should you pedal circles or pedal squares? We’ve been told that “pedaling circles” is important so that we can apply a smooth even pedal stroke. And word on the street is that this uniform application of power around the cranks is more efficient and makes a better rider.

We’ll lets mock up our own episode of Mythbusters. Let’s pretend that you are doing your thesis on power production in cycling (I did). And let’s also pretend that you are trying to get good data on good cyclists (this was my goal). In my research, I tapped into the best client database I could think of (the US Olympic Training Center). And lastly, let’s pretend that you could examine the pedal cycle of the entire national team, and developmental athletes (I could).  What would you find?

We’ll, this episode of Mythbusters would be pretty clear. World championship and Olympic medals have been won by riders who feature a smooth pedal cycle (circles) as well as cyclists who are mashers (squares). Uh oh. Don’t’ you hate it when real world data flies in the face of what you’ve been told. So where does this leave you?

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn't mean one is better

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn’t mean one is better

Its not to say that pedaling style is not important, because it is. In fact, research shows that elite cyclists have better pedaling mechanics than both recreationally competitive cyclists, and even elite triathletes. So if its not the “shape” of the application of power, what does better pedaling mean? Better cyclists have lots and lots of practice turning the pedals over. All this “practice” helps them produce the right amount of force from each muscle, without fighting, or co-contracting muscles during the pedaling cycle. They ride smoother and don’t fight their own pedal stroke. They also can change their pedaling cycle easily when they fatigue, in breaks, or up climbs. Having lots of “strategies” to tap into help as them adapt to the race conditions and terrain they are facing.

The take home:

▪   If you are a rider that has had success mashing your way along at 75 rpm, it doesn’t mean that you must learn to spin at 110 rpm just because someone else does.

▪   Pedaling technique is a variable that better cyclists adjust based on terrain, fatigue, and surface. It is still worthwhile to learn proper pedaling strategies. If you do want to improve your spin, the most beneficial cues are to “scrape mud” off the bottom of your shoe at the bottom of the stroke, and to “kick a ball” at the top of the pedal stroke.

▪   Traction matters. In general mountain bikers have a smoother pedal stroke to maintain traction. If they put all their power around a small part of the pedal cycle their tires spin out.  If you spend time on dirt, emphasize smooth power to keep your tires hooking up  – especially on the climbs.

▪   Better cyclists don’t necessarily pedal circles or squares. They just pedal better circles and better squares – stop reading and go for a ride!

 

 

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn't mean one is better

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn’t mean one is better

My new book: bedtime story for the new royal baby?

It seems the Brits have been busy. A few weeks ago, a new Royal baby greeted the world, and it seems my collection of bedtime stories to Prince George was released just in time!

photo-14Anatomy for Runners has made quite an impact. Since its release almost one year ago, its been one of the top selling running books, and achieved significant accolades with runners, coaches, clinicians, and the industry. In fact the book has done so well, that it was picked up by a UK-based Lotus Publishing Group. The overseas edition, re-titled “Run Like an Athlete” is available now to anyone on the other side of the pond. I’m quite happy with this title – its actually hat I wanted to call the US book in the first place. It features all the same excellent content, although its been translated from English to well, English……

Yes…..The Queen’s prose is quite different from our countrymen’s linguistics. Going through the editing process with the publisher, I’m shocked at how much it was altered for the european audience: “Soccer mom = football mum” are among thousands of edits.

Note: this version of the book is best utilized with hot tea, crumpets, ascots, and a Hugh Grant movie playing in the background. 

photo-13

my copy arrives by none other than the Royal Mail

“In the Highcountry” film premier – this Tuesday night @ Rebound!

High-Country-vimeo-Thumb-smPNW premier of “In the Highcountry” is this tuesday night @ Rebound Westside. We’ll be outside under the stars – Show up at 7:30 to hang out with your friends, sip free beer courtesy of Deschutes Brewery, chow popcorn, watch an acrobatics show with the YogaSlackers, and the highlight of the night….the film and a conversation with the film maker  - Joel Wolpert. cost is $5 plus a can of food. All food goes to those locally in need, and ALL PROCEEDS go to CORK youth developmental running probrams here in Bend!

In the High Country is an impressionistic mountain running film: a visual essay about a life in the mountains. It looks at running from a new perspective, both visually and in the style of running. This kind of movement blurs the lines between running and climbing, between human and mountain.

One way to learn our place in the world is through millions of accumulated steps: on gravel roads, glacial creeks, and over high mountain summits. Each stride imprints the terrain more deeply in the mind. The importance of any specific event falls away in the face of an ever-building accumulation of understanding.

In the High Country is the result of a year-long collaboration between filmmaker Joel Wolpert and mountain-runner Anton Krupicka. The film follows Krupicka’s evolution in running from his roots in Niobrara, Nebraska, to the Roost, his pickup truck home, and the miles in between; from itinerant shenanagins to speed soloing on the Flatirons.

special thanks to our local sponsors for making this night possible:
REP Biomechanics Lab – Deschutes Brewery – FootZone – Fleetfeet