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Analyze my pedal stroke…(23 posts)

Analyze my pedal stroke…TFerguson
Aug 29, 2003 3:39 PM
I just received some pictures a friend took of me at a recent race and was very surprised by my pedal stroke. My toes are pointed nearly straight down at the end of the stroke back near the top. These two pictures are coming out of a corner and going hard to get back on near the end of the race (last lap, I think). I haven't had a chance to analyze it yet while on my bike, but it looks like I am "scraping mud" at the bottom of the stroke and just keep scraping. These two pictures are the most extreme. Maybe I'm tired and trying to use other muscles, like my calves. Any comments? Is this something I need to cure? If so, how?

re: Analyze my pedal stroke…Sherpa23
Aug 29, 2003 4:31 PM
T, I woudn't worry too much about it as pictures don't tell you much about pedalling. There are too many variables: what speed are you going? what cadence? Are you making an effort to bridge or attack or are you floating the pedals? There are numerous other questions but those are just a few.

Basically, there are three separate styles of pedalling: flat footed, the clawing, and ankling. Each has its own place in a riders repertoire and its use is determined by a rider's event, saddle position, cadence, gear selection, etc. Each style has its own individual attributes suited for different moments but you need them all.

Anyways, the point is that you don't need to worry about what you see in a pic because unless you KNOW for a fact when it was and what you were doing, it may be impossible to analyze.

BTW, you can analyze your position from race photos.
You asked and this is how I see it.Canidraftyou
Aug 30, 2003 12:55 AM
Toe's down if spinning. Heel down for power. If you watch my feet when climbing I like to rotate my ankle (picking up my toe on the up stroke and pointing the toe during the down stroke) this helps me from using my legs up.

This one is for free. Maybe its the angle, but your bike looks too small!!!

Peace out
You asked and this is how I see it.Sherpa23
Aug 30, 2003 11:48 AM
"Toe's down if spinning. Heel down for power. If you watch my feet when climbing I like to rotate my ankle (picking up my toe on the up stroke and pointing the toe during the down stroke) this helps me from using my legs up."

Hmmm. So what you are saying is that you point your toe up on the up stroke and point it down on the down stroke for climbing. That's something new. I will have to try it out with my power meter and see how it works. At any rate, you mention "Toe's down if spinning. Heel down for power," but what happens if you reach peak power at 140-150 rpms? Is it toe down or heel down? And do you conscientously do this or do you do it naturally? And what do you mean by "using your legs up?" Do you mean that if you rotate your ankle (either in the way you described or another way) around then you get more endurance? I find this very interesting as it greatly differs from the testing I've seen. However, everyone's different so I would like to hear your experience with that.
My experience with it. Sorry for the
Aug 31, 2003 6:27 PM
When driving with the legs with the feet in a fixed position (tow down or heel down) the calf muscle is not a huge factor. When rotating the ankle allowing the tow to point with the down stoke and toe up during the up stoke (heel down) the calf muscle becomes a factor. When the ankle is in a fixed position the hamstrings and quadriceps do a huge percentage of the workload. When you involve the calf muscle because of rotating the ankle the calf muscle take some of the load off the hams/quads.

In theory, you are assigning all muscle groups in the leg to assist, you'll find the calf muscle will become more developed and defined. With this method introduced into training you'll be able to call upon all muscles of the legs to assist when under the gun.

This is not a method of choice for long-term, but simply an approach during a ride to reduce the stress on the rest of the leg muscles. It has come second nature for me to implement during a ride which helps with endurance.

Give it a try, it not only makes the calfs look good, but feels smooth. Reference to reaching 140-150 rpms, this is not the method of choice. I was only giving my two cents reference to toe positioning.

Everyone has what works for them. Not saying this is good for everyone, just another approach. "I'm not a coach, simply a big man in a little mans sport."

peace out,
Whoa, let’s go back to position and sizing, PLEASE…TFerguson
Aug 30, 2003 1:21 PM
Two people that I make a point of reading whenever they post. One mentions position and the other sizing out of the blue. Forget the pedal stroke, this sounds like a problem.

Bike is a 55cm LS Classic. My bike inseam is 32.5".

Easton EC70 carbon post (lot of setback) with the saddle about centered on the rails. I cannot get to KOPS with a straight Thomson type post. I think (as the bottom pic may show) that even though I obtain KOPS during set up on the trainer, I actually just slide forward and ride on the nose when actually riding hard.

I am currently 25 lbs overweight (2.5 lbs/in being my std). I am using that d#&*n Look ErgoStem to get a comfortable position where I can breath since breathing is definitely a limiting factor for me (fat and allergies). Its current position is about equivalent to a 120mm, 90-degree, quill stem set at maximum extension from the headset.

Here are two nearly side-on pics. The top pic is – running straight, in the hoods and pedals nearly flat. Bottom – left turn, in the drops and crank arms nearly straight up and down.

Please comment.
Whoa, let’s go back to position and sizing, PLEASE…MShaw
Aug 30, 2003 3:02 PM
My $.02: TT too short/bars too high, saddle too low.
Granted, you move forward when you're spinning, but it looks like you really need to work on the saddle position. Up some and back some by the looks of it.

Granted, you have more of a roll around the middle than I do, but it looks like your position on the drops is similar to mine on the tops. You're blocking LOTS of air, making the efforts that you are doing harder than they probably need to be.

Your position is probably fine for cruising, but when you're racing, it helps to be more aero.

Have you been fit on the bike?

Whoa, let’s go back to position and sizing, PLEASE…Sherpa23
Aug 30, 2003 4:11 PM
Okay, here's my take:

First of all, it's bad. Just being honest here. However, I figured that you probably had a back injury and that dictated your position. At any rate, if there's no injury here's my suggestion:

Forget aero advantage. Let's talk power for a minute. You are in a very unpowerful position. You have little leverage and you are under-utilizing your major muscle groups of your torso and lower body. And let's not overlook those arms - they're as rigid as a block of wood. What you should probably do is not change anything on your bike, at first. By the way, your bike is not too small. Instead, work on bending your elbows to a 90 degree bend and pedalling smoothly. Work on that when you train. What you will probably find is that you need to lengthen your stem, not lower it, and you will be more powerful and your weight will be spread out more. Your weight needs to be evenly distributed - right now it looks like you butt must absolutely kill after you get off the bike. Forget about that kops bs, as well. Slide you saddle back some more. Anyways, this is a start.
As usual, I agree with Sherp a full 90%shirt
Aug 31, 2003 10:22 AM
Everything he says I agree with, except the bike size part.

You'll hear lots of people say lots of factors go into finding the right frame size, and they're right. However, if you have a 32.5" inseam, you're probably at least 5'11". Or more. And your arms don't look particularly short. If that's right, I would ball-park you in a 57/58 ctc frame. Not only does that bike look tiny under you, but the numbers don't look right either.

If you can afford a new frame, I'd go to the most reputable shop in your area that can do either a fit kit or the Serotta deal and start over. Then you can trash that suicide stem, as well. Actually, even if you can't afford a new frame, I'd try to sell it and buy a used one that's more your size. Your weight will be distributed better, and larger frames always give a smoother ride.

With the "everyone's different" caveat from above underlined once more, I'm 5'10", have a 31.5" inseam, relatively long arms and ride a 57cm ctc frame with 130mm stem, with my seat relatively forward on the post, FWIW.

and as usual I have to have the last word...lonefrontranger
Sep 1, 2003 9:43 AM
The Sherpa can kick my ass in person, shirt you'll just have to deal...

Something people commonly forget is that the size (i.e. length) of your feet can sometimes affect the total outcome of fit, saddle height, setback, et cetera. Not radically, but it can make a difference. If you are on the fringes of normal, you might have to take this into consideration.

For example I have freakish huge feet for a 5'4" woman; I wear an EU size 41 which translates to U.S. women's 9 to 9.5 depending on mfgr. Most women in that shoe size are five to six inches taller than me. What this means is that both my saddle height *and* setback are longer than normal for someone of my inseam length. Because after all, the length of your feet doesn't affect your inseam.
Did a loop trying to stay at 90 deg elbow bend…TFerguson
Aug 31, 2003 10:26 AM
--".work on bending your elbows to a 90 degree bend and pedalling smoothly."

90 degree elbows: Difficult in the hoods. If I don't keep thinking about it, I pop right back up. Wrist was sore and thumb was numb. Nearly impossible to get that much bend in the drops.

--"Forget about that kops bs, as well. Slide you saddle back some more."

Moved the saddle back .9 cm. This is as far as it will go and the seat post has a lot of setback. Did another loop and could not tell any difference.

I will keep trying and do appreciate the honest response.

I have read your coaching post and am attempting to find the $.

Thanks again,
Did a loop trying to stay at 90 deg elbow bend…Sherpa23
Aug 31, 2003 11:29 AM
T, you really have to work on riding in that position. You have to concentrate and work hard. Eventually, it will come naturally. Moving the sadllde back with balance the weight better. Take some hard corners and you will feel the difference.

I have a 32.7 inch inseam and I ride a 54 c-c. A 55cm litespeed is what I rode when they sponsored me and I used a 13 cm stem. I am 5'9". My bike builder wants me to ride a 53 c-c, btw. a 57cm c-c frame with that inseam would be crazy. Again, everyone's different but I would like to a pic of your bike and how it's set up. Remember also that everyone needs something different to really crank out the power so it may work for you but I would really like to see it.
Aug 31, 2003 1:28 PM
I am going to elaborate a little more on the position thing. This is not to be confused with posture, which is something else entirely. Anyway, you don't want to have a flat back with straight arms. That's too much pressure on your wrists and you are susceptible to being pushed around in a pack. What you want is a flat or flattish back with a 90 degree bend in your arms. This not only gives you the proper leverage to produce power but it also allows you to be comfortable and loose with you upper body while spreading your weight around evenly.

Let's talk more about bike sizing. T, I repeat, your bike is not too small. Do you need to get a stretched out more on the top tube? Yep. Do you need a bigger frame? no. You have about 10cm of seatpost showing, I would not want less than 9cm. As frame sizes get bigger, you should have a longer stem and more seatpost showing in order to have the proper distribution of weight. There is no right stem length or seat height but a good rule of thumb is to have as much post showing as your head tube length. If you have your sadlde all the way back, you should have a 13cm stem to have the proper amount of forward weight, unless you have a big upper body, then you reduce that. Ever notice how every Euro pro has a 13 or 14cm stem? That's not by accident.

Shirt, the more I think about this, the more I am certain that you cannot have a 31.5 cm inseam and ride a 57cm frame. You would have like 5cm of seatpost showing. You should be riding a 53cm frame and you're saying you ride a 57. Is that right? That cannot be right. What am I missing? You cannot be talking about 31.5 inseam pants size because you've been racing for more than 10 minutes and only newbies make that mistake and you cannot be talking 57cm center to top measurements so I don't know what I am missing. I haven't seen pics of your bike and position but I am sure that you cannot be encouraging someone to ride with 5cm of seatpost showing. So please fill me in on what I am missing because this is going to keep me up at night. Seriously.
Bastards! My measuring tape is defective!!!shirt
Aug 31, 2003 11:27 PM
Stupid US-made measuring tape...

Updated figures to allow Sherp some rest:

Inseam: 33"
This is with the tape shoved up against my pelvic bone; is that the way you're supposed to do it? I wear 32" inseam pants and they're always just a little long. Hm.

Seat tube: 55cm ctc
And I thought it was 57! Hah! I've got very 'tall' tubing, however, and the ctt is ~58cm (Deda SC-6110)

Seat post: 11cm showing

Stem: 120mm
Did I say 130 before?

Feel better? I feel better. Let's all go to bed.

Sep 1, 2003 9:31 AM
Thanks. Now I feel better. For the record, that is exactly how my bike is set up - 54 c-c, 57.5 c-t (oversized carbon fiber), with 11cm of seatpost. Top tube is 56.2 cm with a 120mm stem. All my bikes are custom made to my measurements so, in a way, this is how I see the ideal bike set up, at least fomr someone with my dimensions.
Oh, wait. I still have a burr in my saddle, Sherp.shirt
Sep 1, 2003 11:58 AM
Up there a ways in this thread, you told TF that he should work on getting his elbows into a 90 degree bend. Are you SURE that's what you mean???

I went for a ride this morning, on my newly-blessed bike geometry, and, while in the drops, forced my arms into a true 90 degree angle. Sherp, I could suck on my computer from that position. Here's a pic of some fellows who have enjoyed some success in our sport:

The deepest angle I see in that photo is around 120 degrees (with 180 being a Full-Ferguson.) I agree that a lot of newer racers need to work on relaxing their upper bodies and getting lower both in the drops and the hoods, but NINETY DEGREES?

Sorry, I'm just hammering on this since we're all being rather particular with our decimal points in this thread.


ps: Don't mean to be a passenger on the bandwagon, but the guy in the yellow does seem to have the best position on the bike, imo.
Oh, wait. I still have a burr in my saddle, Sherp.Sherpa23
Sep 1, 2003 1:15 PM
90 degree bend is for when you have to hammer. When you need to brigde, break away, or otherwise scoot. TF mentioned that he had to go hard when that pic was taken. The guys in your pic are not hammering hard on the flats, trying to break away or bridge. They're just riding. Also, that guy in yellow has a back problem that prevents him from ever getting really low on the bike.

What you do when you get low like that is utlize the leverage you need to really maximize the power necessary to get the job done. The rest of the time you can ride in a more relaxed position. Look at videos of the spring classics. The guys driving the break or bridging have a 90 degree bend in their arms and flat backs (usually on the hoods but that's because their bars are too low). BTW, the reason they put their bars so low is so that they can rest with fairly straight arms and still be reasonably aero. It actually doesn;t work but they're so old school that they can't be talked out of it. For a better example, look at this page and look at the guy on the top right of the page. That guy's putting in an effort to get up to a group. Look at the bend and look at the back. That's power.

The only way you can ride in that postion whne you need to, though, is to practice i nthat postion. That way, when the time comes, you just hammer and get the job done. If I had a scanner here I would show you some good pics from the track but for now I will have to rely on whatever I can come across on the web.
Super Long TT?werdna
Sep 1, 2003 2:13 PM

That seems like a super long top tube. Do you have a big torso? If not, why do you and other pros (I remember reading that Ullrich and Henk Vogels both run really long TTs relative to STs) run such long TTs? Is it for comfort or power or aerodynamics? Also, could you email me at (remove spam)? I have a few coaching questions.
Just to toss fuel on the fire...MShaw
Sep 2, 2003 10:05 AM
...I have a friend here in San Diego that's riding a 52-ish ST with a 61cm TT. Yes, he's built like a gorilla (even more than me!)

I've been to Tiemeyer's site, his #s work out to a 47-8cm ST with a 56TT for me and I'm 5'8" with a 30" inseam. I don't think I'm quite ready to go that extreme (with my own $$!) but if someone were to make me that frame, I'd ride it.

I'll comment53T
Aug 31, 2003 6:06 PM
The girl in the white halter top is hot!

But seriously, your flexibilty is very limited, forcing you to use a high bar. However, there is no excuse for low seat and cramped up legs, I agree up and back.

I pedal with feet level, until the last few uphill miles when every aspect of form goes out the window. I recomend level to others as well.
Just an observation.Canidraftyou
Aug 31, 2003 10:16 PM
Don't take it personal.

peace out
Not taking it personal at all. Appreciate it. (nm)TFerguson
Sep 1, 2003 4:08 AM
Not taking it personal at all. Appreciate it. (nm)Sherpa23
Sep 1, 2003 9:35 AM
T, can you bend over and, kees straight, touch your palms to the floor without any warmup? That's a good indicator of some of what you should be able to do on the bike. If you can't do that, you need to start stretching or doing yoga or something.