Two super articles on the ongoing and never answered pedal stroke debate. Regardless of Discipline your ability to pedal and the system you are putting energy should be part of your performance equation. But what parts of the system really matter ? Crank length, RPM, Pedal speed, pedal technique, push/pull all are in the equation but is there equal weight given to all these factors when determining how fast you reach your goal ?
- A friend mentioned the technique of taking an easy 'half' pedal stroke every 5 rotations as per Eddie Borysewicz super cyclists and 'old school' coaches. Basic idea being that if you could become efficient in this practice of resting 1 leg once every 5 pedal strokes and the other every other 5 pedal strokes (a 10 RPM cycle with 1 rest per leg per cycle) that you could potentially 'rest' for ~25%-33% of a 40km TT !
- There are obviously issues with becoming efficient at this and the technique is intended for flatter and steady road courses more then uphill, slow or stochastic efforts ... but these guys were fast !
* great summaries of some research throughout article.
- Crank length does not generally make much difference even at extremes in height : crank length (max .5%)
- Pedal speed and RPM seem to be much more important to economy and power production
- pushing down is much more efficient and powerful than pulling up
- a natural pedal stroke is more efficient then any intervention in pulling or pushing or spinning circles
- elite cyclists don't pull up more then untrained cyclists
- Elite cyclists become more efficient in producing power at higher RPM, becoming more fit, better fueled, recovering quicker and optimizing position etc. to maximize the "power they can produce" and reducing what they 'must produce'
So it seems that a Smart Athlete would do well to focus on getting comfortable on their bike (bike fit), working on pedaling at a variety of cadences (discipline determined somewhat) and optimizing their health-fitness. Tools to round out pedal stroke and enhance pulling up might represent time-money better spent learning to ride a bike well technically!!
What do you think ? Any other research or personal experience ?
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