Thursday, March 4, 2010

Experiments in Uphill Climbing

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cycling Question: How do you get more power out of your pedal stroke?

Yes, I know about the ankle flexion, the "scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe" action, the lifting of the heel on the upstroke and driving the knee forward as you come to the top. I've been working on smoothing out my pedal stroke to get more power out of each rotation, but the steep hills that I encounter on every ride here in Kitsap County seem to add another challenge.

So yesterday I tried some other things out on the many hills along the "easy" 25 mile loop from my house. Just leaning forward with my chest toward the handle bars, while keeping my hands loose and arms relaxed seemed to activate some different muscles for me, as opposed to sitting more upright, and my speed went up by about a mile and a half per hour while my cadence remained the same. I also tried shifting my weight forward and back on my saddle a bit, which changed up the muscles I was using as well, but found that in order to maintain forward momentum on a long, steep incline, I needed to stay back in the saddle the majority of the time. If I was climbing out of the saddle, keeping my rear back, just sort of hovering above the saddle and keeping my chest low, arms bent and relaxed, seem to provide the easiest access to more power. If I wanted to overtake somebody on a hill, say in a triathlon, this would be the position to be in to make that happen quickly.

Tomorrow's ride will provide more hills to experiment and improve my skills on.....perhaps a power meter is in my future.


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