Bicycle Basics - Pedaling Technique and Cadence
by Coach Todd Lawless
So you have a bike that has passed a safety inspection and has been fit to your body…(as discussed last month AND at our clinic on bikes)…now what? Let’s go ride! Before you hit the road there are a couple of basic concepts you should know and practice as you begin your riding. These concepts will help ensure that you maximize your efficiency and keep away those pesky injuries!
First and foremost is what is commonly referred to as the “Power Cycle”, that is, the method by which you apply power to your pedals. Contrary to what you may have learned when you first got on a bike there’s more to pedaling than just pushing the pedals down. The proper pedal stroke should be a very fluid motion where you are constantly applying power that is perpendicular to the crank arm (that thing the pedal is attached to). An easy way to visualize this is to break down the stroke into 4 sections. When your pedal is at 10:00 begin pushing the pedal forward, at 2:00 push the pedal down, at 5:00 pull the pedal backwards, and at 8:00 pull the pedal up. It will take lots of practice and time for you to get used to this more efficient form but it will pay big dividends during races since you won’t burn out your main running muscles for the last leg of the triathlon!
Cadence is simply the number of full Power Cycles you do each minute, also known as turnover, RPM, etc. Dozens of studies and tests have been done over the years and have all concluded that the most efficient cycling cadence is somewhere between 85 and 95 rotations per minute. This may seem very fast for newer cyclists and may take some time to get used to but making the transition will help to limit the impact of long rides on your muscles and joints. This cadence also makes the transition from the bike to the run more comfortable. To measure your cadence you can purchase a cadence sensor that attaches to your bike or you can could your pedal strokes for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.
We will continue practicing these and other cycling concepts at our group rides so stay tuned! If you have specific questions about a discipline, triathlons in general, or are interested in joining our online triathlon community - please let Noelle know!
See you on the trails!