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Definition of ankle (verb) ?(16 posts)

Definition of ankle (verb) ?Nug
Feb 7, 2003 5:50 PM
This has been said alot lately in cadence threads- my guess is that ankle refers to keeping the foot in position as opposed to diving down with the toes when the spinning gets out of control. Am I on track, or way off? TIA
Sheldon Brown chimes in.Sintesi
Feb 7, 2003 6:28 PM
Some older cycling books and articles recommend the practice of "ankling." This refers to changing the angle of the foot fairly drastically during the course of the pedal stroke, so that the toe is pointed upward at the top of the stroke, and downward at the bottom. The idea is to make more use of the muscles of the lower leg, and to permit "pedaling in circles", i.e., applying more force to the cranks at top and bottom dead center.
This practice is pretty much discredited these days. If carried to an extreme, it can cause injury. This happened to me when I was a teen-ager; I had read about ankling, and had just acquired my first pair of toe clips, just before setting out on my first overnight tour. I ankled for about the first 30-40 miles, when there was a sudden sharp pain in one of my Achilles tendons. I had to lower the saddle, remove the toe clips, and finish out the 4 day tour pedaling on my arches, because I couldn't bear the slightest load on the front of my foot, pulling on the Achilles tendons. For about a month thereafter, I would need to massage my Achilles tendons for about 5 minutes each morning before I would be able to walk. 40 years later, I've still not completely recovered from this injury.
Ankling - a perhaps outdated conceptKerry Irons
Feb 7, 2003 6:47 PM
The deal with ankling was that you were supposed drop your heel as you were in the power section of the stroke, and then raise the heel as your leg rose on the back side of the pedal stroke. The theory was that using this technique gave rise to a more efficient pedal stroke, etc. There is the plausible correlation of ankling and the "pedal like you're scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe." While both of these are feasible at lower cadences, as you approach and pass 90 rpm, very few (no?) people can do this except as it is a natural motion. Don't worry about it, except the general advice to "keep your heels down" which still doesn't apply to everyone.
Back in the olden days before clipless pedals.Spoke Wrench
Feb 8, 2003 6:11 AM
Almost nobody used cleats because disengaging from the pedals with cleats required a definite knack. With toe clips and cleats, one thing you didn't have to worry about was popping out of the pedals accidentally.

If you didn't use cleats with your toe clips, ankleing was supposed to lengthen the power stroke. Keep in mind that this was probably more important back then because you only had 5 cogs on the back. Consequently, you were less likely to be pedaling at the "sweet spot" cadence than you are today.
Olden and outdatedContinental
Feb 8, 2003 1:38 PM
I guess I'm ancient. I was coached to ankle as described by Sheldon Brown. Pull the pedal up with the ankle on the upstroke so the toes are above the heels at the top of the stroke. Push the pedal down with the ankle so the toes are lower than the heel at the bottom of the stroke. It gets the calf muscles into the pedaling action. I still use this technique for short periods of time to give the other leg muscles a rest. By the way, a lot of us did wear cleats in the ancient days. They were nailed to the thick, stiff leather soles on cycling shoes. The cleat fit over the pedal frame and was locked in by the toe strap. To uncleat you had to reach down and loosen the strap before you pulled your foot out. You young guys don't know how good you have it. I think pedals and shoes are easily the biggest technology improvement in the 25 years.
Olden and outdateddnc
Feb 9, 2003 4:30 AM
As for improvement in technology, it all depends on where
your priorities lie, technique or equipment. Anquetil would
never have used clipless pedals even if they had been available during his racing years.
What the technology does hasn't changed!PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 9, 2003 8:30 AM
Toe clips and straps for the most part used a cleat and then straps overtop. I've ridden this setup on the track and seriously you can't tell me it feels any different than my old-Duraace pedals with the tension cranked up. So the technique vs equipment debate isn't there unless your using toe clips not tightened with no cleat or flat pedals.

Nick
PodiumBound.ca
What the technology does hasn't changed!dnc
Feb 9, 2003 11:10 AM
But then you are not Anquetil. His method of applying power to the pedals did not involve any direct downward
pressure on the pedals and if he had to use clipless pedals
there would be too much rolling action on the pedal, resulting in a loss of power. Because his technique combined the resistance of shoulders/arms with the
forward/downward pressure on the pedal, tri-bars would also
be ruled out. Scott rakes or just narrower normal drop bars
would have given him the ideal aero position and increased
pedal power.
HmmmPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 9, 2003 2:21 PM
I'm not familar which the person you are talking about but it was probably an experiment and one that worked for him so people tried it. The only reason I could think he didn't apply direct downward pressure is so you didn't think about it instead concentrating on other places of the pedal stroke. I know an old coach used to say don't worry about pushing down, worry about pulling up which is absolutely true. No matter what the weight of your leg will at least somewhat push the pedal down so its better to focus on pulling up which is where people forget to activate their hamstrings.

Nick
Hmmmdnc
Feb 9, 2003 3:38 PM
The reasons for not applying direct downward pressure were,
it meant he could combine arm/leg power, his pedal stroke
started at 11 and ended at 5 o'clock eliminating the dead spot area, there was no sliding forward on the saddle, all
back strain (the root cause of all backpain) was eliminated, the workload on the knees and risk of injury
was reduced as was the build up of lactic acid in the legs.
No he did not pull up, instead he offloaded the weight off
the pedal and got the idling leg back up and set in working
mode for instant takeover of pedal power application.
In case you don't know all those advantages made him
invincible in all important time trials.
So which is more important, technique or equipment?
IMHO none of you know what your talking about (long)PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 8, 2003 10:42 PM
Heres my arguement from a "look at the pros standpoint" with exceptions and a technique standpoint.

First of all clipless pedals and toe clips have nothing to do with it. Toe clips in anything hold your foot in far better side to side than a lot of clipless pedals so the technique would not be different. If your on flat pedals you may have to exagerate the motion. I'm still trying to figure out how Hans Rey (trials rider) bunny hops on flats.

Secondly watch Lance Armstrong climb... although I don't have any footage I guarantee his ankle is doing a dolphin motion or ankling. Look at any other pro for that matter and you'll see them doing it. The only exception might be on the track during a start of a event from a standing start where theres so much force being applied that ankling wastes energy or super high cadences where its impossible to get the calfs to fire fast enough since they are predominantly slow twitch.

Three; The pedal stroke is made up of 4 components:
1) driving the knee up trying to keep the foot flat to the ground to emphasize the use of the hamstrings.
2) kicking over the top through relaxing your anterior tib (shin muscle).
3) tightening your calf to push down with your foot relatively flat to the ground .
4) scraping the mud of your shoe at the bottom by flicking your foot down.
So this is basically ankling and if your gifted at all as a cyclist you should do this at least a little without evening concentrating on it.

Four; Now when you start to really flick your ankle I can see where you can run into problems like one rider did. Please don't take offence to it but I'd like to point out why he injured himself. Basically he took an idea and with no easing into it or knowing if he was even doing it right went and did it for 50 km. No wonder he got injured.

Five; Another example is Raven's advice on nutrition I'm getting above. I know he's qualified and I trust his advice but before I follow instructions that if they are wrong could have a detrimental impact on my body I'm going to ask around. This goes for anything from workouts to weights to bike fit. I'm lucky enough to be able to work with 4 main coaches when designing my program! One persons advice is great especially when free... but if you can get more than one persons advice and they all say it is correct your pretty much guaranteed the info is correct.

So try ankling but do it more by breaking up the pedal stroke and try not to exagerate it. The movement is probly within 30 degrees of parallel to the flat ground... if you do it too much your at the opposite end of the spectrum and opening yourself up to being not as efficient and injuries.

Reader beware,
Nick
PodiumBound.ca
..thanks Nick...Spunout
Feb 9, 2003 4:56 AM
Ankling is what happens when you don't ride enough, have too many coaches, lift too much weights, high-speed video yourself spinning at 210 rpm...

Okay, okay, just kidding.

But it is old, what was needed when a 42x21 climbed the Alpe d'Huez. Today, if we can spin, the ankles are much quieter.

If you are worried about it, you aren't relaxing your feet enough. When you power into a big gear at 60rpm, you will ankle.
Re: ..thanks Nick...PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 9, 2003 8:24 AM
I'm fairly new to cycling so I'm not sure what people used to say about ankling. But ankling in the form where you flop your ankles all over the place and take it to an extreme is old and outdated. But the ankling where your tightening and relaxing your calfs and anterior tibs is not. Seriously tape yourself focusing on pedalling circles at 90 rpm and you'll see your ankle is doing something within that 30 degree range I talked about.

Nick
PodiumBound.ca
Geez, there's a winning intro...jtolleson
Feb 9, 2003 4:36 PM
every time you are building bridges around here it seems to get derailed by something such as starting a post with "no of you all know what you are talking about."

The formerly taught technique known as "ankling" bears very little relationship to what you describe -- the obvious variety in leg muscles used throughout a pedal stroke. This old technique--also called "paintbrushing"--of essentially pistoning the heel up and down (with nary a neutral or flat foot, except in passing)left many a devotee with achilles tendonitis.

There's a reason that it isn't really taught any more.
rudeDougSloan
Feb 9, 2003 8:02 PM
Not only does that come off rude, but why do you insist on berating people and acting like a know it all in light of your admission that you are new to cycling? I don't get it.

Try a little diplomacy. Also, if you are going to challenge a position, it might help to maybe cite some sources from people who do know what they are talking about.

Doug
Oddly enough, Nick is at least half-right aboutOldEdScott
Feb 10, 2003 6:24 AM
Lance. I've never notived him ankling while climbing. But I was surprised a few years ago when I first saw Lance in a time trial, and his pedal mechanics looked very much like the ankling I learned and discarded in the 70s. It seems less pronounced these days, but I DO remember saying to my brother-in-law, (another old cycling fart from years gone by): "Jeez, Mike, that young sonofabitch is ANKLING!"