Sunday, 18 December 2011

Is Pedalling Technique like mastering a Golf Swing?

The more you get into road cycling, the more you realise how much there is to it. Drawing the parallel to golf, it seems so simple, yet is so technical.  How hard can it be to swing a club and hit a ball?

For those that are golfers (I'm a failed golfer fyi), they'll know the importance of the swing.  It's fundamentally where everything starts and ends.  Professional golfers spend years perfecting their swing.

Coming back to cycling, your pedal stroke is the equivalent of the golf swing, if you can get that bit right - time after time - as a bedded in process, you'll be as efficient on the bike as you can be (like effortlessly hitting a long straight ball).

For the average cyclist however, it's really difficult to know whether your pedalling technique is efficient or non-efficient. Regular readers will know that I've hired a wattbike for winter.  One of the featues of the wattbike is the ability to show you a visual view of your pedal stroke.  So, what does that mean?

What it means is how efficient your entire rotation of the crank is and how you use the upstroke aswell as the downstroke to create a smooth pedalling motion.  The above chart shows how a pro cyclist pedals (a very famous name) effectively in one smooth efficient motion, making use of the entire circumference of the stroke.  The chart below, shows an inefficient pedal stroke, where more force is used on the downstroke, ignoring the scrapethrough.

The gathering in of the eight towards the centre, dictates an inefficient motion.  Jumping on the wattbike for an hours session this morning, I decided to focus my effort on two things.  1)  A zone 1 ride. 2) Pedalling efficiency.

Earlier this week I'd had a visit from a representative from wattbike to talk me through the pedalling elements of the bike.  His recommendation was to focus on the pedal stroke as a key outcome of having the bike.  By optimising this, it can a big impact on your rides, like hitting a golf ball straight, time after time.

It's easier said than done!  When you've got data flying at you like left leg/right leg power, the polar chart showing your power and efficiency for each leg, you have a lot to think about and you can end up trying to make too many micro-adjustments.  Sticking with one thing at a time is my plan.

During my session, it was evident that I haven't got a great scrape through with my graph looking the one above.  By the end of today's session, I managed to widen the points that meet in the figure of eight so that they consistently were outside of the smallest inner circle (showing improved use of the scrape through).

It will take some time as your muscles need to be encoded with this over a period of time.  If I could describe the feeling, it feels like pushing a little less and focusing on ensuring that I made as large a circle as I could with my whole stroke, as opposed to pushing more on the downstroke, which I tend to do.  I've also noticed that I'm quite left leg dominant, so need to balance that out.

Over the coming weeks, I'm going to have a real focus on this, so see if I can get closer to the efficiency curve.  If you're interested, here's the chart below which compares four different disciplines of cyclist, you can see there is a commonality amongst all of them, which shows that their strokes are very similar.

Finishing where I started with a golf methaphor.  It's no use going and hitting 100 balls at a range if someone isn't there to correct and offer feedback, you'll only continue to hit 100 balls incorrectly.  Now I've got my hands on some data via the wattbike, I can have a go at seeing how easy it is to get pedalling mastered.

No comments:

Post a Comment