Jana Martin //

19 // How to Pedal a Bike with Chris Case

In today’s episode, Colby Pearce, a Steve Hogg Certified bike fitter, sits down with Chris Case, host of Fast Talk, to dissect the minutiae of how to pedal a bike. Saddle position, ankling, dead legged drills, plantar and dorsal flexion of the foot, all of this and much more is unpacked in today’s episode. 

 

[qodef_separator class_name=”” type=”full-width” position=”left” color=”” border_style=”dotted” width=”” thickness=”2px” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=””]

SUBSCRIBE

REFERENCES

Paul Chek & The Chek Institute: https://chekinstitute.com/

IMAGE: 

Resources: 

A Research Review of Jan Wilke’s ‘What is Evidence-Based About Myofascial Chains?’ by Holly Clemens

https://www.bikejames.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/The-Flat-Pedal-Revolution-Manifesto-2017.pdf

Home

Team

POWER TO THE PEDAL – CLEAT POSITION

How to perfect your cycling pedal stroke

 

Colby’s Site: http://www.colbypearce.com/

Email: cyclinginalignment@www.fastlabs.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cyclinginalignment/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CyclinginAlign_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cyclinginalignment-110271017351743

 

TRANSCRIPTION

(Please excuse any typos as this transcript is generated automatically through A.I.)

Welcome to the Cycling in Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport and the right relationship to your life.

Chris Case  00:00

Yeah, I’d be curious to get a fit from you as well. Because a) I don’t have many fits in my life after 30 years probably more of riding bikes, probably been fit twice  in those 30 years. I’m injury free. I get on a bike and I just pedal yada yada yada. But you – and you’ve seen me just a little bit, a glimpse of me and you’ve probably seen a lot of things that you think are “Oh, yeah, he’s an athlete. He’s doing good.” But I like that deeper investigation because I’m  just curious to see how you would pick it all apart and say, I want to try to do this…

 

00:46

Welcome to the Cycling in Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport and the right relationship to your life.

 

Colby Pearce  00:59

Hello, listeners. Thank you for joining me for another episode of Cycling in Alignment. Today, I’ve got Chris Case to help me unpack all the concepts and details of how to pedal a bicycle. This is a dense episode, and we get way in the weeds and high on the dork ometer digging into all the philosophies about how to pedal a bike. I hope you find it fascinating and be sure to listen at the end of the episode for some post script thoughts. Without further prognostication, enjoy. 

 

Colby Pearce  01:41

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Cycling in Alignment. Today we’re going to learn how to pedal a bike. You thought you knew how to pedal a bike. But I’m here to tell you, you don’t. Isn’t that cocky of me? I’ve got a special assistant today, Chris Case is here and this is a long and pretty technical podcast. So, Chris is going to help keep me grounded so I don’t fly off into hypothetical discussion land too much. 

 

Chris Case  02:11

I’m gonna try

 

Colby Pearce  02:13

It’s hard to pin down an air sign sometimes. But I’ve got my rock in my pocket. So should be good to go. And you might ask some questions at times. And that is with the intent to help the audience sort of understand – he’s gonna imagine himself as an audience member.

 

Chris Case  02:30

Yeah 

 

Colby Pearce  02:31

listening intently. 

 

Chris Case  02:32

I mean, obviously, the first question is, I feel like I already know how to pedal the bike. 

 

Colby Pearce  02:35

Right? 

 

Chris Case  02:36

You’re telling me I don’t

 

Colby Pearce  02:37

You don’t

 

Chris Case  02:38

Ouch

 

Colby Pearce  02:38

I’m telling you that because I know – let me tell you about all the things I know and you don’t

 

Chris Case  02:43

Well, I do know that this is going to be in depth. It’s going to be.. there’s going to be a lot of chunks of information here. But I also want to note that this isn’t only the – This isn’t the first time that you’ve attempted to pack all of this great information into one show. I’m trying to give a sense of how complicated this actually is to to disseminate this information.

 

Colby Pearce  03:14

True, it’s a complicated topic. And there are a lot of aspects to it that are a bit technical. So I’ll do my best to unpack those in a clear and concise manner. That said, I have recorded this episode, maybe once or maybe twice before, but to be fair –

 

Chris Case  03:34

You didn’t feel like you nailed it.

 

Colby Pearce  03:35

I didn’t feel like I nailed it. I listened to it afterwards and there were some aspects that I need to clarify and expand on. I also am learning to find my voice as a podcaster. And the early episodes were a little… There’s some hiccups and some bits of flow that maybe weren’t quite as cohesive as I hoped. I still feel that way about my modern podcast, it’s always a practice just like everything. 

Natural athletes and the human anatomy of pedaling a bike

Colby Pearce  03:59

So how to pedal a bike. Chris, let’s, since you’re here, and let’s use us use the example. 

 

Chris Case  04:08

Okay. 

 

Colby Pearce  04:11

When I do a client intake form for a bike fit, I asked my clients, how do you pedal a bike? How do you apply pressure to the pedals? What are you trying to do? And also, I’ll ask them, do you feel pressure on any particular aspects of the foot? The medial side of the foot, that’s under the arch that’s closest to the crank arm, the lateral side of the foot? Do you feel more pressure near the ball of the foot, in the toes and the heels? Do you have any areas of discomfort? That more relates to shoe fit. But all of its important because sometimes these areas of pressure or perceived tension in the under the foot or in certain muscles can relate to not only the fit of the shoe, but also the fit of the orthotic and the footbed and that relates to how you can apply power to them to pedal stroke. So I try not to queue the riders too much, but in this case, I’ll give you my kind of outline principles like, people frequently give me descriptions like I’m trying to make circles, or I’m trying to scrape the mud off the bottom of my foot. That’s a very popular one, which is a relic from Greg lemond’s book, I try to pull up and push down. Some people give me really interesting and unusual answers, such as I’m making trapezoids or figure eights, I don’t know. I also ask people, do you have a perceived power imbalance between the right and left leg? Which I pretty frequently get a yes to. And I kind of ask them to unpack that a little bit. Some people will say one leg feels more powerful than the other fields more fluent, or subtle. Sometimes those the powerful and the supple leg are the same. So Chris, if I were to give you this intake form, what, what would your response be? How do you pedal back? What are you trying to do?

 

Chris Case  05:50

I’m going to give you a potentially non satisfactory answer in that I don’t think about it at all.  I get on the bike and my legs just start moving. 

 

Colby Pearce  06:03

Yep. Good. 

 

Chris Case  06:05

That’s what I do. But I’ve been doing this a long time. So if I am to place myself in that situation, and try to break that down, gosh, I kind of want to get on a bike right now and feel the sensations and understand and tune into my legs and my ankles, my knees, my everything to give you more information, but honestly, it’s so… I just get on and go at this point. 

 

Colby Pearce  06:34

Okay, great. That’s a great answer. And I get that answer actually, pretty frequently. Um, so don’t worry, you’re not a tool.

 

Chris Case  06:43

Damn it. I wanted to be a freak

 

Colby Pearce  06:47

I want to be extreme. I want to be special. So that’s interesting, because I think what that relates to is probably a, there are several factors that contribute to one rider being able to answer the question that way. One is, that tells us something that I already figured out when I did some work on you a few years ago, when you’re preparing for the hour record at Boulder Valley velodrome. I noticed right away that you are – your what I would classify as a high level compensator. In practical terms, what that means is Chris is a natural athlete; he gets on a bike and goes, which is just exactly what he just described. He’s got a very high level of ability to produce force somewhat symmetrically when in a cycling position. And that is nothing more than blind genetic luck, by the way,

 

Chris Case  07:34

Right

 

Colby Pearce  07:36

Our sport is very bizarre because it glorifies people who can pedal bikes really quickly and very symmetrically. But I can tell you right now, that has a very low correlation to survivability in any tribal sense. If you were in a tribe of 66 people, and you could pedal a bike really fast, unless that tribe happened to hunt on bicycles, or war with other tribes in bicycle polo, you wouldn’t be that much use to the tribe in that specific sense. That said, there’s probably a good correlation between your ability to ride a bike like this and run long distances. So-

 

Chris Case  08:05

That’s where – that’s how I grew up, running.

 

Colby Pearce  08:08

So not rocket science there to figure out that if somebody is a good bike rider, there’s a good chance they’re a reasonable runner, although that’s not always the case. Sometimes people are really good cyclists and terrible runners. Or I probably could be classified in that sense, although I made progress, because I’ve been working on my function, blah, blah, blah. That said, it’s also quite common for people to have a history of running and then they end up at cycling because they’ve destroyed their joints. That’s Labrador chases ball syndrome and ruins your knees. Chronic injury. 

 

Colby Pearce  08:42

So when someone gets on the bike, and they just sort of pedal that brings us right into the discussion of how people pedal on really why they can pedal. And from my perspective, I think it’s useful to look at it from the lens of human anatomy. So what are humans meant to do physically speaking, Chris? 

 

Chris Case  09:04

They’re meant to walk. 

 

Colby Pearce  09:06

Right? Good answer, 

 

Chris Case  09:07

Bipedal. 

 

Colby Pearce  09:08

They’re bipedal creatures, right? We are meant to run and walk, we have to do all these things in our lives and in order to do most of those things, we have to run and walk. Where are those things? They’re walk to a water source, walk to a food source, sometimes run after a food source if you’re hunting a food source, walk over to talk to that cute girl, right? When you screw up and make a mistake run from that cute girl.

 

Chris Case  09:31

I’ve heard this one before

 

Colby Pearce  09:32

Right, it’s just so easy. So when… so these are all running and walking, you have to run from predators and running is quite complex neurologically, it’s a very high priority activity. So if you’re being chased by a saber-toothed tiger or grizzly bear, you’re running at maximum pace over ostensibly uneven ground, probably from an evolutionary standpoint, with minimal or no covering on your feet. We’re not talking about Hokas or Nike errors or anything, we’re talking about you running in, maybe leather sandals, probably bare feet, right? A long, long time ago in the cave dwelling type era. 

 

Colby Pearce  10:12

So how does the body handle this problem? Well, a couple ways. One is it puts a lot a high priority on sensory apparatus that is in the sole of the foot. Because if you’re running on an uneven surface, and you’re banking around a corner or turning to avoid a predator, or chase prey, and you slide and fall and break your hip, or your femur, then you’re of no use to the tribe and you’re probably going to die. So staying upright is really, really important. So the body, when you run and you hit the ground, your heel hits the ground and the mid foot phase of gait pushes through the arch and the arches tensioned, and then you push off the forefoot, all of these actions of gait, have a high degree of proprioceptive awareness built in, there’s actually quite a few nerves, and a lot of sensory input that happens through the soul of the foot. So that’s step one. And the implication of that is that if you can’t feel what’s happening with your feet, you’re not going to be able to use muscles very effectively. So this plays right into bike fit. This is why having proper contact with a footbed, or an orthotic device in a shoe can be a very key aspect to cycling, and bike fit that brings the pedal stroke to life and allows the muscles to fire in the proper sequence and amplitude during pedaling, during the complex and subtle motion of pedaling. 

 

Colby Pearce  11:36

The other aspect that’s interesting about running and walking is that there’s a little bundle of nerves right around the SI joints called the central pattern generator. And this bundle of nerves is responsible for basic functions such as chewing, walking, rhythmic action in the body. And it’s a very intense bundle of nerve, very highly concentrated bundle of nerves that help the body form the gait sequence, which is right, left, right, left, that repeated sequence. So why is it that Chris can get on a bike and just sort of pedal because the body is tapping into the gait cycle, which is hardwired into all vertebrates. So if you study infant development, which is something I’ve been learning more about, through Paul Cheks programs in his academy, there’s a normal path of – or normal trajectory for an infant to develop certain motor bio motor pathways. And it begins, ultimately, it begins by going to the boob first because that’s the first thing all kids do. And then they learn to go through different phases of infant development, including things like brickeyation, where they push the upper body up, right? And they pull on to – you see a child, young child pull themselves up from the floor by using their arms to help pull them up using a desk or a coffee table or something.

 

Colby Pearce  13:00

That’s one of several examples. There’s also a really interesting one called the inchworm, which is when kids are on their backs, and they want to make it across the room to get to their favorite toy. They do this weird neck scoot where they push their neck out and then they drag themselves by the neck without using their limbs because they haven’t developed the muscular control or strength to use their arms or legs yet. And so it’s fascinating because we can reverse engineer some of these and do a screen in infant development screen and athletes and see where some of their potential adult muscular dysfunction lies when you know how to use the system. So if an infant develops in normal pathways, and isn’t put in heavy, clunky shoes too early, isn’t put in a – what’s the thing called? It’s like a big ring, and you put the kid in the middle, and then that harness goes around their hips? 

 

Chris Case  13:25

Yeah, yeah, yeah, 

 

Colby Pearce  13:34

It’s like, a big walker, basically, right. Yeah. Those things are a train wreck for infant development, because they basically teach the kid to stand upright before the spinal musculature and the legs are strong enough to do it. There’s a natural order to this stuff on purpose. So when we make all these weird of obtuse baby devices, we interfere with this infant development pattern. The end result of infant development is the gait cycle: is walking and running. And walking and running are hardwired into us, into that central pattern generator. And we can see this quite easily when we cut a head off a chicken. What does it do? It runs across the yard. Why? Because that central pattern generator of the chicken is in, it’s ingrained in the verb of that bird. 

 

Chris Case  13:41

How come the you always use people always use the chicken example? How come you don’t say when you cut the head off a human? It just keeps running across the yard?

 

Colby Pearce  13:41

Good question. Good question. I there’s got to be a reason for that. I can’t imagine why. But there is another really twisted example and we’ll put a link for this in the show notes. It’s a dis cerebral cat.

 

Chris Case  14:35

Yes, yes. Suspended over a treadmill of sorts, right?

 

Colby Pearce  15:02

So they put the cat in a harness, and they keep it alive, but they disconnect the spinal cord from the head. I don’t know how they did this, but you can see a video of this on YouTube, if you would like to watch it, we’ll put the link in there. If you don’t, I’m cool with that, too. But what’s interesting about it is, as they lower the cat via this harness onto the treadmill, the feet touch the ground, the feet start walking, 

 

Chris Case  15:23

Automatic, 

 

Colby Pearce  15:24

And then they speed up the treadmill and it kind of gallops it does its thing and then they slow down. So again, this is to demonstrate that the gait cycle of this vertebrate animal is hardwired into the spinal column of the creature, not necessarily dependent on or contingent on the head, doing that motion or consciously performing that gait cycle. 

 

Colby Pearce  15:44

So cycling is just walking and running that’s been modified, the program has been modified slightly, and learned. How much modification happens depends on the athlete, and depends on how natural they are. So if we have someone like Chris, who’s a natural athlete, we put you on a bike and you don’t have problems. I mean, Chris, what’s your injury history in the sport cycling?

 

Chris Case  16:06

Pretty much zero 

 

Colby Pearce  16:07

Right. No chronic back stuff. 

 

Chris Case  16:09

Nothing

 

Colby Pearce  16:09

No chronic knee stuff. No neck and shoulder. 

 

Chris Case  16:12

Nope. 

 

Colby Pearce  16:12

No, achilles right. 

 

Chris Case  16:14

Nothing. 

 

Colby Pearce  16:14

So there – and how many years you’ve been riding your bike?

 

Chris Case  16:17

Ah, 20 something. 

 

Colby Pearce  16:19

There you go. High Level compensator. Check. Check. So, that’s great. Good for you. Other people who have been struggling with injury for years… 

 

Colby Pearce  16:27

Yeah, I know. I’m lucky. I’m totally lucky. I… yeah.

 

Colby Pearce  16:30

We all have our gratitude for our little gifts in life. Right? This is clearly one that you got. So um, when we, when we have an athlete like Chris, that means his central pattern generator and his walking and gait reflexes, movements, have naturally transitioned to the bike very effectively. What’s that mean? Well, it probably means that he’s got relatively neutral foot mechanics, he’s not an excessive pronator. We know that because if he had ridden his bike for 20 years and done thousands and thousands of kilometers on the bike, and – what’s your longest single bike ride you’ve ever done Chric? 

 

Chris Case  17:04

Dirty Kansas, 206 miles

 

Colby Pearce  17:07

So, a lot of intensity, a lot of duration at the same time. What, you’ve never done the three volcanoes sprint?

 

Chris Case  17:12

I don’t even know what that is. 

 

Colby Pearce  17:14

1000 k in Italy

 

Chris Case  17:15

No, I have not 

 

Colby Pearce  17:16

Geez, man get with it.

 

Chris Case  17:18

I’m not Lachlan Morton, I don’t have the ability to do this stuff or the time

 

Colby Pearce  17:22

I think that you actually have the ability – 

 

Chris Case  17:24

The time

 

Colby Pearce  17:25

The time….

 

Chris Case  17:27

Is this a popular or unpopular opinion? I feel like some people would say riding a bike is nothing like walking.

 

Colby Pearce  17:37

Pedaling is pedaling and walking is walking. Um, I don’t know. I mean, I’d have to – I’m sure there are some other fitters who are going to be scratching their heads, and I’m quite sure there are other people out there who will straight up disagree with me. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of unpopular, potentially potentially unpopular opinions about the subject of how to pedal a bike. And this basis is probably one of them. And that’s cool. So as per usual, if you have something to throw at me, you know how to reach me: cyclinginalignment@fast labs.com, let’s get the conversation going. Because I do consider this whole discussion, this is my interpretation of what I’ve seen in 10 years of bike fitting and 35 years of bike dorkadom and trying different techniques and trying power pedals, which most people probably don’t even know what they are. No, I’m not talking about dual sided power measuring pedals. I’m talking about power pedals made by a guy named Ula Auspost from Norway. Power cranks..

 

Chris Case  18:30

Power cranks, Trevor, Trevor Connor from Fast Talk, that other guy, he uses power cranks to this day.

 

Colby Pearce  18:37

They’re a good training tool if you use them correctly. Yeah. So a dorked out on all this stuff. And I’ve tried midfoot cleat position, and we’ll get into that a little bit too, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… So this is just my own massive experience and the reading that I’ve done to come to a natural conclusion. I mean, I think the body works in certain ways, in predictable ways. People are predictable and their movement patterns are somewhat predictable. Also to add to – to answer your question further and to add to the evidence or reasons that I believe that this is the case. Look at how humans mechanically are well, without going down a rabbit hole of creationism versus evolution ism. They’re either made or designed to handle, okay, what what’s our most basic physical condition? It’s that we are on the planet Earth, and we are subject to gravity. So unless you’re an astronaut, or a scuba diver regularly, we forget about gravity because we’re always in a gravitational field, or skydiver. Those are the three things I can think of where you would really disconnect from that regularly. Or what are those guys call that we see in Boulder all the time that jump off the cliff with the paraglider.

 

Chris Case  19:45

Yes, those too: hang glider sliders.

 

Colby Pearce  19:49

I ride under those guys all the time. That’s pretty cool. So unless you’re involved in any of those types of activities, you’re just in gravity and it’s easy to forget about the field of gravity. Well, what are we trying to do? We’re trying to prevent ourselves from being smashed into the center of the earth by gravity, which means we have to stand upright. And we also need to move around, walking around like we spoke about. So you look at the distribution of muscular tissue on the skeleton, and you can see that it is designed to help us accomplish those tasks. What is the primary function of that task from the lower body perspective, it’s to push down. And so we push down into the earth either to move forward to prevent forward fall, or to move forward with great velocity or just to stand up right, and we look at the distribution of muscles on the lower body than glutes, the hamstrings, the quads, and the calves are all designed to make downforce in some form or another. So that’s what we’re good at, when you’re pushing on a bike pedal, that’s what you’re doing, we’re not going to suddenly turn a human into some completely obtuse creature and give it the ability to do something that it just can’t do, doesn’t have the muscular mass to produce force. And that directly translates to pulling up at the back of the pedal stroke, which is one of the biggest errors someone can make during pedaling. So there’s a seed, we’ll unpack why that is and what the logic is there as we get further along. But-

 

Chris Case  21:13

It’s almost, you know, the, you can go on and on about how cool the bicycle is. And it’s a great machine. And and in some ways, it’s great because it works with our anatomy, and it helps us apply some of these things that you’re talking about that we’re quote unquote meant to do, and move forward with wheels. 

 

Colby Pearce  21:34

It has to it has to take our anatomy, that’s what makes it such an efficient producer of metabolic energy into mechanical energy. Right? And if you look humans, evolutionary speaking compared to other animals were crappy sprinters, right, yeah, we’re really poor at sprinting, we’re really good at long distance slow movement. What a bicycle does is take that strength and convert it into even greater magnitudes. That’s why I think the bicycle is one of the most magnificent machines in the world, because it can, I can go ride for five hours and get 60, 70, 80 miles away from my house, depending on what terrain I choose, and see the forest and see bears and moose and all kinds of stuff because I live in Colorado, right? And if I’m smart, I don’t even get honked at or flipped off, or a cigarette but flicket at me. 

 

Chris Case  22:18

This is true. 

 

Colby Pearce  22:19

All depends on Route choice and bicylce chois=ce

 

Chris Case  22:22

And whether you’re wearing pink or not.

 

Colby Pearce  22:23

All right. So that’s what I think is remarkable about a bike. So I’m not saying, to be clear, I’m not saying that cycling is simply running and walking. What I’m saying is the pattern of pedaling is based on the pattern, the neurological pattern of gait.

 

Chris Case  22:39

Yes.

 

Colby Pearce  22:40

When we optimize that pattern, we refine it. Some people may get more out of refining that pattern, and others, someone like Chris, who’s a high level compensator probably will walk away from this podcast and say, “Well, that was really interesting discussion, I’m going to go for a ride now.” There are other people who have been battling chronic injury, who hopefully will have great insight into their own pedaling technique from this pod and this discussion. And we’ll understand maybe what they’ve been doing that hasn’t been serving them and has been possibly causing them injury. 

 

Colby Pearce  23:10

And to outline that discussion briefly, I’ll say two things: One is, okay, anytime we’re talking about bike fit, we’re doing two things, we’re balancing the physiology of the rider with the demands of the event. What that means is, you have to be capable of producing supple and smooth power on the bike. And on the other side, the demands of the event means we have to set up your bike for whatever demands you impose upon it. If you are doing Dirty Kansa that’s a different than if you’re doing a 40 k local TT, versus if you just want to do recreational riding. So you can be the most perfect Chris case, highly functional athlete in the world. But I can give you a bike that’s set up pretty poorly and eventually Chris would have dysfunction, right? I would – for you, because you’re a high level compensator, I would have to set the bike pretty far off the mark, you have a bigger range of error than most other riders, right. But some riders happen to be on the other end of that spectrum where their range of error is much smaller. And then bike fit becomes much more critical. So my point is you can be the most perfectly supple athlete, you can be strong, you can be symmetrical, you can dot all your i’s and cross all your T’s and have a bike fit, that’s a disaster and eventually run into problems. 

 

Colby Pearce  24:28

On the other side of the spectrum you can have a bike that’s actually pretty much dialed and still be struggling constantly with your fit. These are clients I see pretty frequently. They come in the door and they go I got this problem, this chronic pain, I can’t get over it, I’m on the verge of quitting cycling – which is a rough story to hear and then they go oh, my bike fit must be off and I look at them on the bike and I go, I hate to tell you this, but your fits pretty dialed actually like yeah, we can fine tune this, we can fine tune that, but your biggest challenge is not the bike, it’s you… for whatever reason, so we have to unpack that.

 

Colby Pearce  25:00

So that brings us into the next phase of the discussion

The terminology of micro-adjusters and micro-absorbers verse high level compensation

Chris Case  25:09

The term you use: Is that equivalent to micro adjusters and macro absorbers? Are you using them in a slightly different way here? And I don’t know if this is relevant to our conversation 

 

Chris Case  25:22

That is relevant. Yeah, good. I mean, we always have to define terminology. So I’m using Steve Hoggs terminology when I say high level compensator. Steve is the guy who trained me to be a bike fitter. I trained with him for about a month in Sydney, I believe in 2011, if my memory serves me correctly, so that’s a term he would use.

 

Chris Case  25:42

I don’t like the term high level compensator mean, it’s makes me sound like I’m compensating for some other shortcoming in my life.

 

Colby Pearce  25:51

Well, I take it to mean that it, high level means you can do it across all conditions across varying conditions, meaning different weather different bikes 

 

Chris Case  25:59

I gotcha. 

 

Colby Pearce  26:00

Right. So you can probably chang from your road bike to your cross bike without feeling much of a difference. There’s some people who are constantly- 

 

Chris Case  26:04

I have so many bikes, and none of them are set up identically 

 

Chris Case  26:07

That’s a perfect, textbook exampl 

 

Chris Case  26:09

As an example of something that I can get away with or to do with with no repercussions, right, with no consequences. Different saddles, different pedals, I have lots of different shoes, roughly the same saddle height, probably the saddle height is the one thing that I dial in reach, maybe, but yeah, lots of different bikes and all that sort of stuff.

 

Colby Pearce  26:36

Saddle height, the functional threshold power.

 

Chris Case  26:39

Yes. Right.

 

Colby Pearce  26:42

So on the other side, we have the micro adjusters and micro adjusters can come in my experience from different camps. Some of them can be people who basically don’t believe in themselves. 

 

Chris Case  26:55

Mm hmm. It’s a confidence thing, almost 

 

Colby Pearce  26:58

Yeah, they don’t have the confidence to believe that they are good enough, they’re still battling what I might call the Primal Fear, which is I’m not enough, not good enough, not smart enough, not handsome enough, don’t have a high enough VO2, don’t have a long enough male genitalia, blah, blah, blah,

 

Chris Case  27:13

They’re compensating for something. 

 

Colby Pearce  27:17

So when we, when we have a rider like that they tend to fidget with their equipment, because they’re looking for an answer in their equipment. And really, what they maybe ought to be served better by is to just relax and let equipment be and train more, and find faith in themselves, find faith in their preparation, find solace in their own ability to be as good as they’re going to be and accept the fact that they are maybe going through or have already gone through their Lance Armstrong crisis. Or as I like to call it there “I’m not Lance Armstrong” crisis, which pretty much every serious bike rider goes through right around the age of 19.2 years old. Like, oh, crap, man, I’m not gonna win worlds this year. I’m not even on the national team. How am I gonna buy thatbumping Range Rover and have that Aspen house, this is not going the way I thought it would. So that’s a typical crisis. I know this well, because I went through this crisis at the age of 19.25 or something there abouts. Most bike racers, it happens. So got lost again… 

 

Chris Case  28:25

Uh, oh

 

Colby Pearce  28:26

See what I’m saying? 

 

Chris Case  28:27

I’m distracting you

 

Colby Pearce  28:28

No, not at all. You’re helping. 

 

Chris Case  28:29

Okay, good. 

 

Colby Pearce  28:30

This is me getting lost.

 

Chris Case  28:33

You’re talking about the different, the two camps of micro adjusters, those that would lack confidence and those that blank…

 

Colby Pearce  28:40

So, those micro adjusters who are lacking faith in themselves might be served to turn inwards, and find their own ability to be who they are and be okay with their path in the sport of cycling. That’s what I’m suggesting. The other micro adjusters are people who are very sensitive to how they’re applying power to the pedals. And this goes into a certain cycling neuro type. There are neuro types who are just wired to feel the way they make power, that’d be the best way I can describe it, how they’re applying force to the pedals. Chris, you’re clearly not in this camp. But there are riders who are constantly processing, what it feels like to make power on the bike, and they’re almost meditatively monitoring the pedal stroke in their head, and they could very quickly and easily describe to me “when I pedal, I’m doing this with this leg, and that with that leg, but I feel that the left one does it better here and the right one doesn’t make pedal power well, at two o’clock or at 5:30 I can’t drive through the bottom…” or whatever their particular description might be.

 

Chris Case  29:47

Is this you? Or are you somewhere in the middle.

 

Colby Pearce  29:50

I played all these roles at different points. Yeah, so definitely went through a long period of time where I was this type of person, where I was really focused on these nuances of making power in the pedal stroke. And I would dare say that I’ve progressed beyond that, although the meditative aspect of pedaling for me still exists on a per ride basis for sure, at least part of the time. It’s part of the reasons why I enjoy the sport for me it is meditative.

 

Chris Case  30:15

Sure, absolutely.

The cliff notes on how to pedal a bike

Colby Pearce  30:19

So let’s let the cat out of the bag. I’m gonna give everyone my Cliff Notes on how to pedal a bike. And then we can deconstruct why I think that’s the case. 

 

Chris Case  30:33

Let’s do that. 

 

Colby Pearce  30:33

Because we’ve been talking for a while now. And I’m sure people are “dude get to the point.”

 

Chris Case  30:38

Dude, dude, get to the point. How do I pedal, my friggin bike.

 

Colby Pearce  30:46

One, I want you to push forward and down starting at 12 o’clock. Two, I want you to not focus on three and four o’clock because you are meant to run and walk. And you’re going to push down hard, the harder you go at three and four o’clock naturally, because that is the gait cycle. That’s why we see a big pop in force right around that part of the pedal stroke. Let me just make sure everyone’s on the same page. So we’re looking at the clock, the the crank set from the drive side, and we’re super imposing a clock on top of it. So when your crank set is vertical, that’s 12 o’clock, right? Thanks, it is horizontal, that’s three o’clock when the crank is at vertical pointing down towards the ground, that would be six o’clock, which is not bottom dead center bottom dead center is when you’re parallel to the seat tube, which would be about 5:30, which is the furthest reach you will have from the cell. Hmm, some people get confused on that. Yes. And then at nine o’clock when the crank is horizontal pointing back towards the rear hub, that’s nine o’clock. So that’s our complete pedal circle. The power phase, I will define as from 12 o’clock, when the crank is vertical pointing up towards the saddle all the way down to six o’clock, when it’s at the bottom, that is the power phase of the right side of the crank, we’re going to always refer to the clock face relative to the drive side of the bike. Yes, and you can mirror image that to the other side, the same concepts will apply. But to be clear, when I say three o’clock, I’m always referring to the right side pedal being horizontal just to establish our baselines. 

 

Colby Pearce  32:25

Point number three, I would like you to pull back not up at 5:30 or bottom dead center. That’s a crucial point, pull back not up. And I’ll explain why that is. 

 

Colby Pearce  32:37

Point number four, let the other leg take over. What do I mean by that? That means that if we’re focusing on the power phase of the right leg from 12, all the way down to six, at six o’clock, the right leg becomes passive, and the left leg takes over on its corresponding power phase. And when that happens seamlessly meaning the same moment the right leg becomes passive and the left leg becomes active when the cranks are vertical, then two halves make a hole. And one of the primary objectives of pedaling most of the time, but not always, is to make – is to eliminate dead spots at the top and bottom of the stroke. There are times when that doesn’t apply. And I’ll talk about that too. 

 

Chris Case  33:25

Can I jump in here with a question? So perhaps I’m the bad example because I sort of get on a bike do this, and it just happens, right? But you’re teaching people here that need to be thinking a bit more about pedaling technique to improve performance, maybe improve their technique. So that reduces potential injury and so forth. I want to know how somebody goes from taking this instruction, applying it out on the road, thinking about these different steps to get to a point where they’re not thinking about this anymore. Do you know what I’m saying? Like? Yeah, for me, if I had to be thinking about this constantly, that’s a gonna sort of take away from the pleasure. Yeah, but also, it’s going to be a challenge to continue to do that for an entire ride. So how how much should somebody do this to practice it before it becomes more and more innate? I guess is my question.

 

Colby Pearce  34:34

Good question. So a couple answers to that. One is that it depends a little bit on the athlete. If we have you, Chris, the high level compensator and things are going very well, you might play with us a little bit, but you might find it doesn’t really serve you or change your cycling practice that much. And it could be that you’re already pedaling this way. It could be that you’re not, but either way to a certain degree there is a if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it rule. Not always, but in your case I would argue there is. That said, I have some people who I’ve seen come in who say they have no problems. And I look at them on the bike and I, my jaw hits the floor, because I’m thinking, how can you possibly be me making power like this. Particularly if the spine and torso and hips are super, super unstable under load and that instability progresses as they add more load? Look, man, I have been doing this long enough to have a crystal ball to a certain degree and I can look into that crystal ball and say, there’s going to be a problem in your future, I’m sure of it. We need to be proactive about this. I know you’re you’re having no problems right now, but we need to look carefully at how you’re peddling and talk about it and look at your fit and make sure that we start to address this. Because the chances of you having problems is just so high that we’ve got to deal with it. And then sometimes when you get to that point, you unpack it further. And the person you find that they glossed over the questions or that they go “Oh, yeah. Now you mentioned my back does really hurt any ride over an hour long.” Why didn’t you mentioned that before? “I don’t know. I just forgot or I didn’t think it mattered.”

 

Chris Case  36:00

It’s just part of the routine now. 

 

Colby Pearce  36:02

Yes, yeah, yeah. And sometimes we all have fallen victim to the mindset of, of adopting the well this hurts, but it’s part of being a tough person for the sport, part of adaptation or being an elite athlete. And really part – one of the most critical aspects of being an elite athlete is discerning between the type of pain and discomfort that serves your training because your quads and glutes hurt, because you went as hard as you could up at 30 minutes deep climb, versus my lower back is twisted and in a knot and my balls are asleep, or I can’t feel my lady parts, because my saddle is like a fence post. Those are not constructive, right? No one has to tolerate that we have the technology. And so then it’s time to dig further. So you have to discern which type of pain and discomfort you’re tolerating or enduring during your training and workouts and races. 

 

Colby Pearce  36:56

So, a couple – so the midline would be that I recommend that if people want to investigate learning how to pedal a bike in a different way. The first place to do that is you have to change the motor engram. Right, this a motor engram is it’s a mood pattern that’s ingrained in your system. And it’s been kind of grooved in over thousands of repetitions in cycling’s case, 10s of thousands, right, that’s one reason why it can be challenging to change a pedal stroke, because cycling is so repetitive. And you do a an hour and a half bike ride at 90 RPM, and you’ve already got thousands of revolutions. And you add that over a few months. And it’s like, and also cycling is so locked into exactly the same range of motion, right clipless pedals, rigid carbon shoe satellite doesn’t change unless you are futzing with it or unless it slips in the seat post. Or unless it’s a saddle with too much padding and the padding collapses. Don’t get me started on that. 

 

Colby Pearce  37:49

So cycling engrains, these movement engrams very precisely. So it does require some effort to undo them. It doesn’t mean it’s undoable. One of the best ways to do that is with specific pedaling drills that I will talk about. And I’ll talk about specific pedaling drills that are common that I do not like and why I don’t like them. And then we’ll also talk about the simple way really is to focus on the pedal stroke at the beginning of your ride, Chris, because then, if you say I’m going to give myself the first 20 minutes, dedicated attention to this pedal stroke, which sometimes means you might need to ride by yourself because as soon as you ride with your buddy and they’re talking you forget, right, you got to be engaged, engage and turn inwards. And you say, Okay, I’m only going to focus on this stroke and I’m going to develop get that momentum have the habit going, then, okay, then you go ride for an hour and then at the end of the ride check in. Go, I’m gonna think about this: Did that have it maintain its momentum? Or did I degenerate into my old typical pedal stroke? And that’s how you can start to make momentum on that, that and what’s very specific focus drills. 

 

Chris Case  38:57

Very good. 

 

Colby Pearce  38:57

Those would be ways I would suggest it. Um, if you’re a total dork like me, you can write for five or six hours and pretty much always be thinking about your pedal stroke. This is a skill that I would not say everyone probably has, but I don’t know because I’m not in everyone else’s skull. But I’ll say that I’ve learned to cultivated over years of cycling and it is the type of skill where I can set almost like a metronome in mind in motion in my mind and let it tick and it will go the entire ride. 

 

Colby Pearce  39:29

Example” when I was training for the Masters, oral hour record in 2018 at Boulder Valley velodrome Wednesday’s were the days where I happen to have time to go out and train so I got in train midday, more often than not, it was howling wind blazing hot and there was no one else on the velodrome which is fine by me because basically what I need to do is just go pummel myself in the polling for hour, for long efforts. So I started out doing 40 lab efforts on my own. Well, there’s no one there to help me. I’m not going to hire someone to stand up there for two hours while it go in circles – would have to keep track of laps, I don’t really want to look at head unit, you can do that on a track, but it becomes problematic. I want to focus on my rhythm and my effort. So I began counting. And the only way to count laps is to count out loud. So I got up to the point where I was doing four by 80. And I was counting out loud every single lap. And here’s a little trick, if you count out loud, and it actually comes out of your mouth and makes noise, you’ll remember it one lap later. But if you count in your head, by the time you go down the backstretch and around turn three and four, you get to the start line, you’re totally lost in another universe, it’s incredible how it works

 

Chris Case  40:37

I could see that.

 

Colby Pearce  40:38

It’s just like the difference between being in class and hearing the teacher say something and you go, “Oh, that’s really interesting. I think I learned that” and you writing it down, the act of writing it down and making it a physicality helps weld it in your head. So just a little thing there. Um, I can begin to think about my pedal stroke during a long ride. And it’ll just go like a metronome the whole time. And I’ll it’ll be an almost a subtext of my consciousness, but I can access it at any moment. But it’s still going. And I bring that up only to eliminate that I think the human mind is capable of that.

 

Chris Case  41:08

Something similar to that, despite the fact that I just quote unquote, get on the bike and pedal, I can still tap into what my legs are doing at any moment, you know, or feel that rhythm and engage with that, but it’s not sitting there at the front of my consciousness the whole time. 

 

Colby Pearce  41:24

Hmm, you’re not completely disconnected. That also probably plays into why you are a high level compensator. Because I would suggest that people who are able to completely disassociate from the physical activity their bodies are doing on the one hand that might enable them to push to very deep levels. On the other hand, it’s going to allow them to disassociate so much that their body the the mechanics of the pedal stroke can fall apart, they can also lose touch with their intuition on Oh, I, you know, I forgot to drink for an hour and right suddenly, boom, my energy levels plummet it fell off a cliff, or I forgot to eat for an hour and same thing. Yeah, energy levels just fall off a cliff, and then they can’t figure out how they got in such a big hole. You look at their bottles, well, both your bottles are full, and it’s 85 degrees out, we’ve been riding, you know, zone three for a while, what what’s the deal? I don’t know, I just didn’t think about it.

 

Chris Case  42:14

No, I would I don’t fall into that ever, I would say that there isn’t always an awareness there.

 

Colby Pearce  42:22

Cliff Notes on how to pedal a bike: Point five was two legs make opposing force on the first half of the power phase, or excuse me on the first half of the pedal stroke, which is the power phase. And two sub notes on that, one of which I’ve already covered, but a really important, so I’m going to cover it again. Number one, the difference between pushing over the top and pulling over the top is really important. And this is a difference that is clearly illustrated for any of our audience who have used power cranks. If you’ve riden on power cranks, and you try to pull your leg up over the top, your hip flexors are annihilated in a matter of minutes, and there’s only two ways to handle it: One is you go home and defeat or call an Uber. Two is that you struggle like crazy and your hip flexors get stronger and stronger and stronger until you pull the pedal over the top of the stroke and you adapt to that technique, which I would argue is actually a useless adaptation. 

 

Colby Pearce  43:21

The second, for most for most riders, it depends a little bit on the rider, but most generally speaking, it’s not an adaptation we care about for cycling performance. The second way to do it is to push over the top starting as soon as you can, that’s contingent on your bike being set up correctly. But it is a far more sustainable and powerful way to use power cranks. And when you use this technique where the right leg for example, pushes over the top from 12, one, two, and then down at three, four, and then begins to pull back at bottom dead center around 5:30 and six and then becomes passive but the left leg takes over simultaneously, then you end up with two halves make a whole which is a complete pedal stroke and the two legs deliver smooth and efficient power working in opposition to each other. Not unlike the hands of a sailor using a hand crank to move the sail on a sailboat race. Yes, terminology which I’m not very familiar with. Booms bows aft – I don’t know… starboard, port

 

Chris Case  44:29

Poop deck

 

Colby Pearce  44:29

Poop deck.

 

Chris Case  44:33

We’re not sailors.

 

Colby Pearce  44:36

Apologies to anyone who knows that word. And we just butchered all your all your terminology. So that’s those are my Cliff Notes on how to pedal a bike. 

Joint angle, muscle function, and setting your saddle back a degree

Colby Pearce  44:45

What am I talking about? Why do I think that’s important? Now we can we can rewind a bit and unpack

 

Colby Pearce  44:53

So, let’s begin at the beginning of the pedal stroke, the beginning of the power phase which is a 12 o’clock. So when we are at 12 o’clock again, to remind you, that’s when the right crank is vertical straight up and down pointing up towards the saddle and we’re pushing forward and down. In order to make that happen, the saddle has to be back far behind the bottom bracket. And this is the first unpopular opinion that I will have in the world of cycling, or maybe I should say controversial opinion, because there’s a big movement in bike fitting right now to push the saddle forward for a bunch of reasons. And I’ll talk about why I think that is. But fundamentally, this is all part of my logic for describing how people should pedal a bike is based on the role I learned from Jess Elliott, which she learned from I think Cal Dietz, if I remember correctly, which is joint angle determines muscle function or dictates muscle function. I would like to edit that rule to say joint angle indicates muscle function, because a joint angle doesn’t actually tell the muscle what to do, it tells us what the muscles doing. 

 

Chris Case  44:53

Let’s do that

 

Colby Pearce  46:08

So when I’m fitting, I don’t need electrodes hooked up to a muscle to see if it’s firing, I can do two things. One is understanding the body very simplistically as a system of pulleys and levers, which is, by the way, a reductionist way of looking at pedaling and not always the way we want to think about things, but it can serve to illustrate some examples, it can also tell us useful things about how muscles are firing – and two is I can palpate the muscle. So when the bikes in the trainer and I squeeze the rear brake and lock the wheel, I can have a rider push down on the crank at one o’clock, two o’clock at three o’clock, and I can feel which muscles are firing, that’s just a static snapshot of what muscles are capable of pushing down. So if you want to see this point, put your bike in a trainer, make sure it’s level, sit on the saddle, hold your rear brake, it can’t be a smart trainer, sorry, you’ve got to have an actual wheel in there. So that already takes out half of our audience at least. But anyway, use a toe strap or something I don’t know. Don’t crush your chainstays. So when you hold the rear brake down, and the cranks at three o’clock, you can push on that pedal. And you can also palpate your own muscle by tapping on it. And feeling which muscles are tense and which ones aren’t. This is a really poor man’s way of looking at what’s firing and what isn’t. 

 

Colby Pearce  47:24

Now take the crank up to vertical at 12 o’clock. The first thing you’ll notice is that if your saddles really far forward, you’re going to by necessity end up pointing your toe down. That is called plantar flexion. Right. dorsiflexion is when you point your toes up towards the knee. And just so I can use these anatomical terms quickly and easily. I’ll remind everyone that the way to remember dorsiflexion versus plantar flexion is what is the fin on top of a shark called?

 

Chris Case  47:53

A dorsal fin 

 

Colby Pearce  47:54

Exactly. So whenever your foot points up like a dorsal fin that is dorsiflexion. Now you’ll never forget it. So plantar flexion is the opposite when you point your toes away from your knee. So when an athlete is at when an athlete’s foot is at 12 o’clock, we have to have some dorsiflexion to the foot meaning it’s going to be close to fla in order to push forward and down using quads and glutes with power, like you’re stepping down with the heel. That’s the cue I use. Step down with the heel. The only way to do that is if your saddles far enough back behind the bottom bracket. If your saddles really forward over the bottom bracket, which is a popular way for a lot of fitters to set up a bike right now, the only way for you to apply power to the to the pedal at 12 o’clock will be to kick forward, like you’re kicking a soccer ball with your toe because as soon as you bring your butt forward over the bottom bracket or towards the handlebars, your foots going to drop, toe down heel up. And that is not a powerful way to deliver force there.

 

Chris Case  48:57

Two questions. 

 

Colby Pearce  48:58

Yes. 

 

Chris Case  48:59

First, when you say you have to move your saddle back behind the bottom bracket. How much?

 

Colby Pearce  49:06

Yeah, good question. A lot of people use knee over pedal spindle or the plumb line from the old knee to determine saddle offset, and they would do that with the crank at three o’clock horizontal and it would drop a plumb line from either the front of the knee down to the front of the axle or from the behind the patellar to the center of the axle and there’s a few other little variations in there. I don’t follow that rule strictly. If you want to check out why there’s a really old cool article written by Keith Bontrager called “The Myth of Kops”, k o p s, which is knee over pedal spindle. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes. And that article explains why we don’t really find that to be a relevant metric because Keith’s argument is that as the bike is horizontal or level, when the plumb is dropped, then you get that tidy relationship but what happens when you go uphill and downhill? And he also points out that there’s no real reason for that this is just an old Italian wives tale about bike fitting that happens to mostly kind of work. But really, what we want to do is place the center of gravity over the bottom bracket, that’s Keith’s argument. And he actually claims he has a way to calculate a rider center gravity and find out when it is placed over the bottom bracket.

 

Chris Case  50:25

Question number two…

 

Colby Pearce  50:27

 I don’t actually use that method by the way. I I base saddle offset. More on pedaling style demands the event? length of the femur?

 

Chris Case  50:38

Well, that was my that was my question number two, what if I have really short femurs? 

 

Colby Pearce  50:42

Right, then you wouldn’t need as much saddle offset to still have dorsiflexion at 12 o’clock and get proper power delivery at the start of the power phase. You can Bernardi’s book has a really cool table that details actually the femur to tibia ratio. And you can measure that I did this when I was a junior, how dorkyis this, you can measure your femur and measure your tibia based off his method – off his methods – and figure out what the ratio is and then figure out where you are on that chart. And he has some suggested saddle offsets based on that. And I’m pretty much on that chart today. Not because I adhere to that chart. But after doing everything under the sun from way too far back to way too far forward and trying it all, this is where I’ve landed and found it to be the most efficient position for me.

 

Chris Case  51:26

Interesting. Do you have that book? You must have that book?

 

Colby Pearce  51:29

Oh, yeah, it’s on my so my shelf in the fit studio. For sure. It’s a good basic, um, it’s – It’s just like a lot of old school books. I mean, this book is probably published in 68 or 70. Somewhere in there. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a little later in that? No, it probably was probably more like late 70s. But just like all these books, it’s got some good fundamentals in it. Lemond’s book has some good fitting fundamentals in it, and some good training fundamentals and it to be honest, but you got to take those and expand them. You know, I like to help people I’m not. Yeah, old school. I’m not new school. I’m all school, like, take it all in and adapt it, leave behind the the junk and the stuff we’ve learned to move past, but that doesn’t mean every concept that’s an old one gets abolished just because of old.

 

Chris Case  52:10

Yeah. You like to sift?

 

Colby Pearce  52:11

Yes. discern

 

Chris Case  52:13

Discern. Very good. 

 

Colby Pearce  52:15

So two things that are needed when we have this saddle offset behind the bond racket, and I haven’t answered your question about how much is too much, but I will. But two things that are needed. And this is where people get hung up. One is you need the ability to have good dorsiflexion you need the ability to have good ankle flexion in order to generate power at 12 o’clock. And I’ll explain why I think we need that power there first, in a moment. But the second thing is as you push this saddle little further back behind the bottom bracket, here comes this is this is the controversial moment, we make the angle between the femur and the torso more acute or tighter at the top of the pedal stroke. Hmm.

 

Chris Case  52:56

Tell us why this is controversial?

 

Colby Pearce  52:58

Well, right now there’s a big movement to eliminate the tightness of the hip angle in fitting, especially in time trial fitting and in triathlon on world. Triathlon fits are a whole the ballpark, but all in all, I think they’re influencing bicycle fit on the whole and I think this is a mistake for a bunch of reasons. So here’s the potentially controversial opinion part. But I think one reason that people are looking to avoid the really acute angle between the femur and the torso at the top of the pedal stroke is because we’ve had a rash of elite athletes who have experienced arterial

 

Chris Case  53:36

Iliac artery endo fibrosis

 

Colby Pearce  53:37

Artery, endo fibrosis, and endo fibrosis or impingement. Yes, the stroke, right. So this is a situation where blood flow is being disrupted to the leg under high pressuringloads when the rider is in that low tucked position; meaning the torso is relatively horizontal and then the femur is coming up close to that torso. And that makes sense. Basically, you’re kinking the artery 

 

Chris Case  54:03

Over and over and over again. 

 

Colby Pearce  54:06

And so the artery starts to either form scar tissue or become obstructed from or it can probably even be obstructed from the muscle mass you’re gaining if you’re a really muscular rider, depending on the placement of the artery and some other some other anatomical variations. So I think that’s one reason and clearly in those cases, we might have to make exceptions to this rule. But we also have to understand that those changes will come potentially at a compromise to the riders function or power, like so – Just to rewind from a 30,000 foot view. These recommendations are basic recommendations, they’re philosophies I take into the fit lab, but my number one rule in fitting is there are no rules in fitting. Every rider is unique. Or, here comes Jana, God is a novelty generator, she’s heard me say that one like 50,000 times. And I’ll probably say at 50,000 more because it’s just it’s the pretty the only rule I follow in any endeavor I take, whether it’s fitting or coaching or any discussion with anyone. Everyone’s unique and we’re all unique expressions of God’s consciousness to get philosophical for a moment. So when we, when we take these rules and we lay them as a template for a fit, those rules can or are frequently broken or modified based on the needs of the individual rider. Like you said, Chris, what if somebody has really short femurs? The other thing applies. The other example that applies is when someone’s really has very short legs, very short, femurs, a long torso, and they’re very muscular build. They’ve got a big kind of boxy ribcage. You know, I’m not even talking about someone who’s overweight. I’m just talking about someone who’s just sort of stocky and build, and they have very muscular thighs, well, we’re going to clearly have problems compressing that angle between the torso and the femur, what’s the magic solution? shorter cranks.

 

Chris Case  55:58

He said shorter cranks. 

 

Chris Case  56:00

I did, you didn’t hear me because I whispered.

 

Colby Pearce  56:02

So when, so that allows us to keep to maintain that saddle offset. And that’s, that’s really important to maintain for a few reasons. Number one is when the saddles, the proper platform, we support more of the weight of the torso on the saddle, and less on the arms and shoulders. So when we’re talking about horizontalizing the torso; if you want to do a home experiment to figure out what I’m talking about, just stand up right with perfect posture, and then hinge forward at the hip. When you hinge forward at the hip, don’t let your legs move – how far forward can you bend until you start to fall over and fall on your face? Not that far, maybe your torso gets to, I don’t know, 20-30 degrees or something like that, depending on how strong your lower back musculature is, but eventually your center of gravity will go so far forward you’ll just fall on your face. In order to make a bike handle well, or a cyclists be arrow, we have to horizontalize the torso, move it more towards a horizontal orientation, less vertical orientation, that means hip hinging. So as we hinge at the hip, more of the weight, the center of gravity shifts forward to avoid bearing the weight of that torso being horizontalalized and bearing the weight on the shoulders and arms, we offset it by pushing the weight back on the saddle and supporting it on the saddle so that the structure or the weight of the torso can be supported by the bicycle. Again, this is what makes the bike so efficient is the bike carries the load. This is also one of the big differences between running and cycling. The cyclist is the weight of the athlete is primarily borne by the apparatus. That’s why cycling so much less destructive to the joints, among other things, and you’re more efficient on a bike.

 

Colby Pearce  57:48

So, that’s one aspect. Why do we want to begin to apply power at 12 o’clock? The answer is simple. We already decided, we already conclusively proved that people are meant to run a walk and that means making downforce. So if we’re good at making downforce, okay, Chris, what happens when we take a novice rider? And we give them a super fast road bike and we tell them to go ride up to Jamestown. And you’re riding behind them? What do you see? How are they pedaling? What’s a common…?

 

Chris Case  58:24

Huh? Their cadence is probably all over the place. They’re pedaling fast at times, slow at times, smashing/grinding away, you know, there – It’s not very, it doesn’t have a lot of souplesse there’s not right smoothness to it,

 

Colby Pearce  58:37

Right, yep. And what else would you see? What would you notice maybe most likely expect to see in the upper body?

 

Chris Case  58:44

Now there’s a lot of movement in the upper body,

 

Colby Pearce  58:46

Rocking of the shoulders maybe, maybe of the hips? Yep. Depending on how the fit was whatever

 

Chris Case  58:51

Noodley.

 

Colby Pearce  58:52

Yeah. So the lack of souplesse is the rider, the new rider, taking that walking gait, that central pattern generator, firing pattern of left, right, and just smashing it onto pedals. And what you get when you see that is, what you see when you do that is a big push at about three o’clock when the cranks are horizontal that sort of matches up with where we would make – start to make force on the ground if we were running or walking. And then we push down through even past six o’clock sometimes

 

Chris Case  59:22

It’s more like they’re on a one of those step machines. 

 

Colby Pearce  59:25

Exactly. Yeah, yeah, you’re taking a step machine or as if you were hiking up hill. That’s how people tend to ride a bike at first. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. What I’m arguing is that we want to refine that process. And how do we want to refine that process? Well, since human beings are good at running and walking, and we’re good at making downforce, let’s use the downstroke for all it’s worth instead of just starting at three o’clock. Let’s start at 12. Let’s use the entire power phase of the stroke from 12 all the way down to six. That’s where we’re good. What we’re not as good at is pulling up or pulling up and back across the top from 9, 10, 11, 12 those are natural dead spots. And by focusing on those, what we do is rob the stroke of potential power in other areas. And there’s quite a bit of science to support this, I can drop in some links to a few studies if you’re so inclined. But to be honest, I’ll say something else as controversial. I don’t necessarily, I read the science and I acknowledge the science on this. But after 35 years, I don’t need a double blind scientific study with 12, you know, college kids, showing me that when they yanked hard on the pedal at nine o’clock, their efficiency didn’t improve, because I’ve figured this out on my own, through three and a half decades of screwing around with cleat position and saddle height and all kinds of other things. I’ve just figured it out. And I’ve also generalized it enough to other riders and spoken to them about it. So it’s not only an N of one, it’s we’ll say, a global intuition and understanding. I know that’s a lofty statement. There are- 

 

Chris Case  1:00:55

I don’t doubt it

 

Colby Pearce  1:00:56

There left brain people out there who will not like that. So thank you, you’re welcome. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:01:03

So we have our beginning of our pedal stroke at 12 o’clock. And we are approaching this 12 o’clock position, ideally with a flat or nearly flat foot because if we approach it toe down, we’re going to be kicking a soccer ball through the toe of our shoe. And that’s not a strong way to deliver power. We want to push down using the heel, then we’re going to follow the pedal stroke down to one o’clock where we’re pushing down and forward and down. Two o’clock, we’re pushing down and forward three o’clock, we’re pretty much pushing straight down. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:01:40

There are two ways an athlete can make force in a circle, either radial or tangential. What do I mean by that? Okay, so when the cranks at three o’clock, tangential force would be pushing straight down, or perpendicular to the crank arm. In fact, tangential force is always on the circumference of the circle, no matter where the crank is oriented. So that means at six o’clock pointing straight down, your force would be pulling straight back at nine o’clock, it would be pointing straight up and at 12 o’clock would be pointing straight forward. Radio force is not desirable to be made during a pedal stroke at all, because it doesn’t drive the pedal. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:02:17

Example, when your bikes in the trainer, put your crank straight down on the right side and push it down parallel to the crank as hard as you can. You’re pushing a lot. But does the pedal move does this help the bike move forward at all? No, all you’re kind of doing is flexing the pedal on the spindle and the crank in the bottom bracket. at nine o’clock, if you were to push straight backwards towards your derailleur that wouldn’t help the bike go forward at 12 o’clock, if you pulled straight up that wouldn’t help the pedal and a three o’clock if you kicked straight forward. None of those would help. So we want to minimize radial force and maximize tangential. So I would suggest that superficially on paper when the goal might seem to be to make round circles, humans aren’t good at making round circles. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:03:02

The second confounding variable I’ll point out when people look at pedal studies, which there are a few of out there, and force delivery studies. Again, unless you’re a scuba diver, we forget about gravity, legs weigh a lot. Each leg weighs 15-20 kilograms, depending on how big you are. That’s a lot of weight falling in space on the power phase of the crank. So whenever we’re looking at force pedals, the force of the that’s being generated into the force measuring device, the pedal isn’t only muscular force, it’s also the weight of the leg and the shoe and the sock and everything falling onto that platform, even the pedal on the cleat. So that tells us that there’s more force going into the downstroke than is muscularly produced alone. But it still doesn’t detract from the fact that humans are primarily meant to push down. The only way we can pull up and across the top is by using knee flexors and hip flexors. The hamstring is meant to flex the hip powerfully and flex than me weakly, not a strong.

 

Chris Case  1:04:09

What you’re saying is take advantage of your big muscles. Forget about the small muscles, they might add a little bit but it’s not worth it. So you’re making instead of full circles, you’re making half moons with either side to make a whole moon, right? And within that arc, there’s places where it’s advantageous to push really hard and others where it’s advantageous to ease up a little bit is that what I’m hearing? Not ease up, but no, not push so forcefully.

 

Colby Pearce  1:04:43

Well, this is how this gets into the philosophy a bit. I would say that depends a bit on what type of cadence you’re under what type of so and therefore, what type of torque you’re producing and also your proximity to maximum load which is relative to duration. So complex way of saying it depends kind of on how hard you’re going, whether you’re climbing or not. Yeah. But I would say the general philosophy should be to emphasize the what I call the horizontal aspects of the pedal stroke that is the part from 12 and one to two, and the parts from five to 530 to six, or the pushing forward and down across the top and the pulling back at the bottom. Why do I not ask you to emphasize three and four? Because that is the part that is in your central pattern generator? That’s the part that’s hardwired?

 

Chris Case  1:05:33

Yeah, that’s gonna happen no matter what,

 

Colby Pearce  1:05:34

yep, that’s going to happen on its own. So how you actually smooth the pedal stroke and minimize dead spots is by emphasizing those kind of air quotes horizontal parts of the pedal stroke. Why do we care? We care because when you’re climbing, on a steep climb, if you have a big old fat dead spot at the top of your stroke and the bottom of your stroke, the bike will accelerate every pedal stroke, it will surge forward, and then slow down, and surge forward and slow down on every stroke. And then it is incredibly inefficient way to pedal up along steep climb. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:06:07

Wait, I’m from Florida, I don’t care. All my roads are flat, you still care. You still care. Because even though inertia, camouflage dead spots and flat roads camouflage dead spots, you still don’t want a massive dead spot in your pedal stroke because the same problem applies. And where that’s going to get magnified as in solo longer efforts. You’re in your hundred mile pancake Flat Houston or Florida road race. And the break gets away and you’re trying to bridge across solo, and you’re time traveling for 10-15 minutes with constant pressure. When the bike is surging, you will not be as fast even though you may not notice that surge. This is one of the confounding variables about cycling. Because the machine is so efficient. You can have a rider that has pretty atrocious pedaling technique, and they may not even know it. If you have horrible technique when you’re swimming, you’ll drown. If you have crappy technique, when you’re cross country skiing, you’ll just fall over it’s way too balance intensive. Mm hmm. If you have atrocious technique, when you’re running, you’ll get injured in a very short period of time. Cycling is bless cycling, bless you cycling, it’s so much more tolerant of these athletes who are just stabbing at the pedals murdering the crank set with their atrocious technique, or fit or combination thereof. But they can still go out with a $10,000 tt bike and go pretty fast at a local TT is there aerobicly, relatively well conditioned or trained. So Cycling is a sport that camouflage is all that to a certain degree unless you’re paying attention. And you can see the cues. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:07:36

So have we covered why I think that we should push the saddle back to a degree I want to 

Setting your saddle forward a degree

Colby Pearce  1:07:43

I want to talk about why people say you should it should come forward. So in the world of triathlon frequently, especially draft legal triathlon, but even arguably, non draft legal triathlon, or that’s called normal triathlon, I don’t know. The outcome of the race is frequently dictated by the run. Not always, but very commonly, you hear about people who ride this exceptional bike segment and then they explode on the run, they get passed. In draft legal, you’re basically just trying to come out of the water with elite group or close enough and then you’re trying to stay with the lead group or close enough during the bike most of the time, and then the runs sorts out the placings, right. So it is natural for a triathlon coach and an athlete to emphasize the run is the most important part of the travel. And I understand that. I still philosophically disagree though with the idea that we should turn cycling into running, which I think some fitters are really trying to do. And from what I’ve understood from the bits and pieces I’ve read from triathlon articles and forums I’ve been on etc. a lot of triathletes are struggling with the cycling aspect, especially being the arrow bars on longer, longer duration events, in particular, their hamstrings tend to flip out a little bit. And so the solution to this is to push the saddle forward to produce less hip flexion. And it’s also to raise the saddle to turn the bike pedaling stroke more into triple extension, which I’m not a fan of

 

Chris Case  1:07:43

I guess 

 

Chris Case  1:09:21

What is triple extension?

 

Colby Pearce  1:09:23

Triple extension is all three joints extend at the same time. That’s the hip, the knee and the ankle. So you would use triple extension, for example, in shooting a basketball, right or jumping up to touch, uh to kill a fly on the ceiling that was as high as you could possibly jump. Mm hmm. You would crouch down and explode and all three joints would extend at once and that’s using all the leg musculature in one shot. The challenge there, the reason that doesn’t work as well on bicycles is that it doesn’t it shortchanges the ability to have hamstring to drive through the bottom of the stroke, and it creates a dead spot at the bottom of the stroke. We naturally have one dead spot at the top of our pedal stroke starts around 930 and goes up to 12. Assuming you are trained to start your power phase at 12. If your saddles too far forward, then you have to wait until the foot drops down into dorsiflexion, which takes usually through one or two o’clock. But because the hip musculature doesn’t change, even though we’ve rotated the athlete forward, we’re still in gravity. So the leg is really not great at unweighting its own weight and applying a positive force to the pedal from 10, 11, 12. So all we do is take the dead spot and we extend it from 10 all the way to two. And the remarkable thing about elite athletes is they will solve the equation. So when they’re climbing next to each other up a steep climb, and they feel the bike surging and they feel a weak point in the pedal stroke, they feel the dead spot because you’ll you’ll notice your bike starts to lose a tiny bit of ground next to the rider next to it even in every pedal stroke – riders will intuit this even if it’s not conscious, they’ll start to punch harder at three o’clock. So because your bike mechanically doesn’t allow you to start to actualize, pedaling at 12 o’clock when the saddle is too far forward, you’ll punch harder at three. Now you’ve created this egg shaped pedal stroke. And if your saddles too high and you can’t drive through the bottom with hamstring by pulling back, then at nine o’clock you’ll sense that same sensation. So you’ll start to yank up. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:11:29

Is this why people on climbs, steeper climbs, if they remain seated will often scooch very far forward onto the nose of their saddle to be…

 

Colby Pearce  1:11:39

I can be. That depends. That’s a great question. Some riders will push back and their saddles on steep climbs. And this is more of a drive to start the power phase at 12 o’clock and engage more glute. When they come forward. It’s likely because their saddle is too high and too far forward already. And this is a weird negative feedback loop in the world of cycling. Sometimes when your saddles too high and forward, you would think well if it’s too forward, and I’m gonna make better power by driving back in the saddle assuming you believe all the stuff I just talked about. Instead of driving back in the saddle and starting to engage more glute, it’s like a negative vortex of spiraling yuckiness where you end up further off the mark. 

 

Chris Case  1:12:21

Wow, yeah, you don’t want that. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:12:23

You don’t want that. So people if you’re coming forward in the saddle on steep climbs, your technique and your fit are probably well off the mark, I would say for a bunch of reasons. So time to dig. That’s the case. If you’re pushing further back in the saddle on steep climbs that suggests that your saddle actually should be a little further back and you might need to improve your hip hinge and possibly look at nose angle. Just some very armchair, generalized…

 

Chris Case  1:12:49

Yeah, I know that’s one of those questions that, it’s hard to fully answer without knowing all the variables.

 

Colby Pearce  1:12:56

And this is why I’m a bike fitter, because there’s a million variables that goes in every fit, but that can, let’s just give people enough information to get really lost in their own Hmm. So this is a big reason why I think that we need not to push the saddle forward in the world of triathlon. I mean, if I was a triathlon coach, which I’m not to be fair, I would look at the best runners, the best swimmers and the best cyclist in the world. And I would train my athletes in accordance with those methods. And I don’t just mean the best meaning the ones that are winning, I mean, the ones that are mechanically and functionally the best. And I would, I would reverse engineer the methods. This would more than triple my workload, which is one of several reasons why I’m not a triathlon coach. But then I would train my athletes to be proficient in each of those. And in cycling one of the basic demands of the event, see episode, cycling in alignment number, whatever it is about the fundamentals of the sport. Hip hinging is a fundamental need. It’s a fundamental requirement of cycling: hinging at the hip with proper form and making power in that hip hinged position. That is a basic. So when we try to skirt around that, by shoving the saddle forward, it’s the wrong answer to the problem, in my opinion. The way to do it is one: train the rider to be able to handle a hip hinge better within to the best of their ability and to shorten the cranks if needed. There is a mountain of evidence out there. Go look at Jim Martin’s work for a starting point. I’ll link two other good articles on the show notes about why going to a shorter crank rarely, very rarely takes a riders performance down. But many reasons why going to a longer crank impedes performance. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:14:38

Cliffnotes version, the only riders who are justified in pushing the envelope on crank length and going longer are riders who are one professionals and two trying to win the volta because the Velta every year has about half a dozen finishes on mountain tops that are ridiculously steep. And the only scenario where you’re going to go faster with a longer crank pretty much hands down is when you are one at maximum pace two out of gears, and three, sharing time in and out of the cell. At that moment, because your torque is maximum, your cadence is low and you can’t shift you can’t make your guarantee easier. At that moment, the longer crank you have pretty much the faster you’re going to go for most riders. But most riders will suffer a decrease in performance. If they have to carry that long crank arm around the rest of the year in all the criteriums and flat stages and training rides they have to do, the longer the crank is the more hip and pelvic stability are challenged. The longer the crank arm is, the more difficult it becomes to make high levels of force Don’t forget, when you increase your crank arm even two and a half millimeters in length, in order to maintain power foot speed has to increase not stay the same. The old logic that Oh, the longer the lever is, the easier it is for me to push the gear that’s forgetting that we’re making petalinux we’re making force in a circle. It’s also neglecting to recognize the fact that as a rider approaches maximum force, asking them to make it with increased foot speed is an added demand. So every time you add crank length on there, you’re not just you have to keep it’s like triple down tripling down on the demands of the event, or the the demands of power production because you have to maintain the same amount of force with a greater foot speed over a greater range. That’s like asking you to squat deeper and more quickly with the same amount of weight. That’s what you’re doing effectively and then saying that’s going to get you more power. That makes no sense whatsoever. So more often than not when we short and crank length we make gains for riders. There’s a handful of really old school riders who cannot get their heads wrapped around that and I’ve had them switch to shorter cranks and they’ve had it’s been a failed go. Most of those people are riders have been doing it for three decades plus. I also think that fiber muscle type plays a role into it. But there’s there’s a certain old dog new tricks kind of equation there to a degree but for the most part, I’ve I’ve had a lot of riders switch to shorter cranks. And for the most part, I would say 90% have been great success.

Chris Case  1:17:10

Okay, so what about the fact that you can move the cleat under the foot as well,

 

Colby Pearce  1:17:16

so cleat for four and aft. I use as a method for that I use the bony landmarks of the metatarsal heads. Generally speaking, as the cleat moves towards the toe, we lengthen the length of the third lever in the equation. So think about the body again simplistically reductionisticly as a system of pulleys and levers, we have three levers that are applying power to the pedal we have the length of the femur, the length of the tibia, and the length of the foot. The femur is mostly sorry, the femur goes between horizontal and vertical. Depending on where you are in the pedal stroke, the tibia is mostly vertical, and the foot should be mostly horizontal. Unless you’re ankling like crazy. Ankling, by the way is an ancient relic and should be done away with, I want you to pedal it mostly a flat foot during the entire pedal stroke. Thank you. So as we increase the lever arm of the third lever, that’s the foot, well, we would increase that by changing cleat offset, right. So think about it this way. Think about it from the back of your ankle, your Achilles to the center of the pedal axle. That’s the length of that letter, simplistically, for the point of discussion. So as we move that cleat forward towards the toe, that lever gets longer as we move it back towards the heel, that lever get shorter. There are pros and cons to both of these. If we move the lever all the way back to under the the head, the talus, then that’s called mid foot cleat position. And what that does is basically remove the third lever from the equation. This is an extreme cleat position that was brought about by people who are doing really super long distance events like Perry.

 

Chris Case  1:19:03

Perry Brass Paris.

 

Colby Pearce  1:19:04

Yeah, thank you, or the three volcanoes sprint that was talking about are like we’re talking like 1000 2000 3000 k bike races, Ram and stuff like that. Yeah. And what riders were experiencing was extreme forefoot pressure, which, more often than not was probably due to poorly fitting shoes or just excessive insane volume or lack of proper foot beds and our support or any number of other reasons, maybe some medical conditions. And so they wanted to move the axle away from that ball of foot to relieve the pressure or people were experiencing fatigue or chronic Achilles problems for digging the calves specifically, because as the the cleat moves towards the toes, think about it. You push down on that, on that rigid cycling shoe, even if it’s a carbon soul, that’s going to put more stress on the ankle joint and in order to stabilize that joint, you’re gonna have to use the calf more and it’s going to put more force in the Achilles. So if Your rider who’s having chronic Achilles problems again, aren’t your fitting 30,000 foot view, one thing you might consider is moving please back a little bit,

 

Chris Case  1:20:10

reducing that leverage

 

Colby Pearce  1:20:11

reducing that lever arm. But that lever arm gives us something. Also, when we push the cleat out further towards the toe, or really, I’ll say towards the ball, the foot, we don’t really I’m using the toes of marker, we never go past the ball the foot really anymore, even for track sprinters. When we push that cleat further out and give it longer lever, what happens is you get this magic moment of super high zingy torque, right at three o’clock right during the peak of the power phase three to four o’clock. So that’s when that femur is pretty horizontal and that tibia is right over that axle. And then that little foot lever just gives you this pop. Mm hmm. And that pop is useful in any events where we have lots of accelerations like a cyclocross race, or a criterium where you’re jumping out of corners or a hard group ride where you’re pulling through and a group of five or six riders and you’re really stepping on the gas to get around the guy in front of you just for five or six seconds in the wind and then you’re waiting until the next guy comes around you or you’re surging over a short climb. So in events with a lot of acceleration, when we have the cleat, you know, as a general, General marker near the ball the foot we get that lever length. In longer events that are more accelerate uh less acceleration base and more steady state based we start to move the cleat further back. For the purposes of most conventional fits, we use the metatarsal heads as that range. So when you put a line down the center of the foot, the sole of the foot, looking at the foot, vertically looking down at your own foot on the floor, draw a line down the middle of the foot, then draw a line through the metatarsal heads. The first metatarsal head is the ball of the big toe, the fifth metatarsal head is the ball of the pinky toe. If you draw a line through those metatarsal heads, it will not be perpendicular to the centerline of the foot, it will be angled, and the first metatarsal head would be further forward than the fifth. 

 

Chris Case  1:22:02

Unless you have a weird shaped foot 

 

Colby Pearce  1:22:04

Unless you have a weird shaped foot. Well, some people’s feet are pretty square, but there’s almost always at least a little bit of angle to them. Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. And so what we want to do is put the axle somewhere between the first and the fifth metatarsal. The closer to the fifth it is the shorter we’re making that lever. The closer towards the first it is the longer we’re making that lever. Old School neutral used to be to put the axle right under the first metatarsal. Most fitters agree that that’s not really ideal anymore, we want to be around 8, 10, 12 Mills behind that for first metatarsal for in most cases, and in some cases, we might bump it further back. So there is a relationship between saddle offset and cleat offset, if you are riding in a pretty forward position in terms of saddle offset behind the bottom bracket. And your cleats are set up old school neutral with the axle right under the ball, the foot when the foot is horizontal, and you push your saddle way far back, it’s gonna feel really awkward, because when you go to push down at three o’clock, that foots going to drop, a heel is going to drop too much you can have too much ankle. So there’s a relationship between those two parameters. As we push the saddle further back, frequently, not always, but frequently, we want to push the cleats a little further back. If on the other hand, the saddle is too far back, which is unusual, but possible, then we might push the saddle forward, we might if the cleats are slammed all the way back, there’s possibility we might push them forward, but I always respect the bony anatomy of the foot in that equation. And also the riders pedaling style depends on if they’re slapping the heel down at three o’clock depends if they’re pedaling, when I call ballet style, if they’re put toes are pointed all the way through the power phase, then there’s a good chance that cleats are really too far forward. And they’re trying to use the calf to stabilize the foot and drive into the, into the shoe or into the crank to get power. And chances are they’re driving your toes into the end of the shoe and they’re gonna have all kinds of problems. So that’s not really an optimal solution or an ideal scenario at all. Does that sort of answer the question of…

 

Chris Case  1:24:07

I think it gets at the complexity of all of this. I mean, we’ve been going on and on now for a while, but all of these things are interrelated. Saddle with cleat, this joint with that joint – I mean, it’s so it’s very, very complex. 

Drills to practice better pedaling

Chris Case  1:24:24

You know, maybe at this point, it’s time to tell people some drills that they can use to try to improve things. So they not having to think about all of this so much they can just go out and practice, it’s about practice right?

 

Colby Pearce  1:24:40

Good point. So assuming that your saddle is far enough back to where you can initiate the power phase at 12 o’clock when the crank is vertical, and your saddle is low enough,  another unpopular opinion that you can drive through the bottom of the stroke at bottom dead center, which is when the cranks at 5:30 with a flat foot and activate hamstring, assuming those two things are true, then you can go out and do some, some drills. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:25:12

People always ask me or commonly asked me, if I like one legged pedaling drills, I’m not really a big fan of those, because the leg weighs so much, legs are heavy. So when we put the bike in a trainer, or you can do this outdoors, too, but if we put the bike in your trainer, you clip out of one foot and you rest it on your trainer, let it dangle whatever, and you pedal with the other leg, what happens is, the weight of the leg on the downstroke makes a big “Vooooo,” in the sound of the trainer, because you’ve got all his weight falling. And then your goal then is to get complete a pedal stroke, you’ve got to unweight the leg sufficiently. So that encourages you to yank up with hamstring at nine o’clock. That’s not really ideal. Because if you pull up with hamstring at nine o’clock, that’s going to pull your foot into plantar flexion, toe down heel up, then by the time you come around to the power phase, you’re not set up to start pushing down with the heel at 12, you’re at a disadvantage because your foot is pointed toe down. So that’s one reason – in addition to all the science that shows that when you pull up at nine o’clock with hamstrings, you do not gain efficiency. All you do is Rob yourself of peak power and your global efficiency does not increase. In addition to those studies, it sets up a poor power phase. So you’re kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face, you’re trying to do one thing at the expense of what your strength is, which because you are human and you’re good at pushing down, you’re taking away from your 12 o’clock. So when we, so when we do one-legged pedaling drills, first of all, we’re fostering bad habits. Secondly, we’re, we’re so far removed from natural peddling because we’ve made it one leg, that we’re not really doing anything constructive, other than training the hip flexors. And if you want to train the hip flexors, just get on a stability ball and do some stability ball pikes. That’s a far more effective way to train hip flexors. Most cyclists do not need to train their hip flexors, they’re tight and too strong already, they need to be stretched in most cases, wormhole. So when we come around at 10, 11, 12, and the toe is pointed down, and you’re yanking hard up with le o so as and, and iliacus. And maybe wreck them to close that hip to get the pedal stroke to get the weight of the leg over the top of the dead spot. And then as soon as you get to 12, you just let it flop because you’re tired. How is that training us to do anything that’s useful in the context of pedaling, it’s not so unless, with the cat possible caveat that if you did one leg, it drills very, very carefully. And specifically, which I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole, I let’s just say on the whole, I think they’re pretty useless to be honest, oh, at best case scenario, worst cases, they’re caught fostering bad habits. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:27:53

What I prefer is a drill I call dead legs, or dead legged pedaling drills. In order to do this, you need to climb ideally, of about eight to 10 minutes in length, moderate grade will say five to 7%. And what you’re going to do, you can use a power meter and heart rate and all that stuff, but you don’t even need it necessarily. What you need is some markers, like a crosswalk at the bottom and a mailbox at the top or a driveway and driveway, whatever you want to use, just use the same markers for each interval. And what you’re going to do is ride intervals on this climb up and down, up and down, you’re going to use the descent for recovery and the uphill for the effort. First start out doing a normal we’ll call it zone three tempo effort, just get loose. Maybe it’s eight minutes long. And your power is whatever x percentage of your FTP blah, blah, blah, flip around, go back down, then you’re going to do effort one. If we want to be correct in terms of sciency stuff, you’ll do the first effort with the left leg because left is always first. I’m not sure why. So that means you’re going to only use your left leg actively for this entire effort. Your right leg is going to be air quotes dead or passive. You’re just going to let it-

 

Chris Case  1:29:09

Still clipped in though

 

Colby Pearce  1:29:10

Still clipped in. The advantage there is that the right leg is falling on the pedal. So you’re not you’re still have the you still have some light downforce from the leg falling but you’re not pushing, you’re not pulling, you’re not doing anything with the right leg. This will take some pretty intense concentration because as soon as it gets hard, you’re going to want to use that right leg right? 

 

Colby Pearce  1:29:30

Also, this will highlight a big problem with one left sided only power meter, power measuring devices, or power estimators as I like to call them. Because you’re not going to be able to see useful data as you go from right to left leg right to left leg you’ll see data but it’s going to be super skewed. This might actually teach you something about why these devices have some pretty serious limitations. But this is also why we use our driveway to drive a metric. You can still use speed, time and heart rate and get perfectly comparable data, because the data isn’t, what percentage of threshold where are you at in terms of power, it’s what is the delta between right and left. That’s what’s relevant about this drill. So if you have a big difference in right and left, then you know “Ooo I’ve got big problems, I’m pedaling way differently.” 

 

Colby Pearce  1:30:15

The intensity is as fast as you can go while still only using that left leg. So 100% intensity. But since you’ve got a far lower recruitment of muscle fibers, you’re not going to be anywhere near threshold, your power is probably going to be somewhere around high zone to maybe some zone three sections until things really get nice and burn-y you’re going to get a solid burn. And if you’re doing it right, you’re going to feel that 12 o’clock power phase, that engagement of the forward and down pedal stroke, and you’re going to get a nice solid burn all through the hip, that tells us that you’re doing it right. If you start to use the right leg, you have to constantly remind yourself not to do that. Some tricks you can use to help yourself not use the right leg if you continually go back to that pattern. One is just unbuckle your shoe completely on the right, that helps, because then even though you can still push down, it helps you remember if you start to pull up a little bit or pull back or whatever you’ll feel that looseness. It’s also is just a proprioceptive cue to remember that leg is turned off turned off on this on this interval. The second thing you can do is you can unclip but rest your foot on that pedal. how effective that will be will depend a little bit on what type of pedal system you have. But that’s a good indicator. And if you feel yourself clip in then you know you pushed so unclip again and just rested there. If you do it right, riders who come past you on the climb should be very puzzled. Because they shouldn’t be able to tell that you’re only pedaling with one leg unless they happen to notice that your bowlers are loose on the right side. But they should wonder why you’re going so slowly, you’ll probably be going pretty slow. And then they’ll look at the expression on your face. And if they see that you’re actually working hard, they’ll be even more puzzled, and they’ll start looking at your tires to see if you’ve got a flat or something. And that’s okay, they should not notice a big effort in terms of upper body movement, pelvic motion, rolling rocking head movement, you want the upper body to be relatively still, you’re driving with the active leg only. And you’re focusing on these basics, which is push forward at 12 one, two, and drive back at 4:30, 5, 5:30, 6. The three o’clock again will take care of itself, you might feel it, but it’s going to be a natural instinct to do that. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:32:29

Then let the other leg passively drive the pedal on the way down, you’ll feel the bike decelerate, especially on steeper sections, that’s normal, then as soon as 12 comes, that’s your chance to fire this active leg the left leg so you’ll do. So if your first tempo took eight minutes it might take you ten to do it with one leg, then you ride down, do the right leg, and so forth. So you can get two or three reps on each side. Three reps on the left two to three on the left two to three on the right, you can go home and compare numbers you want to alternate right and left sides. Starting with the left first, and then 

 

Colby Pearce  1:33:04

Again over that, over, you do that workout for a few weeks, you’ll get better at it. The first time most of my riders do it they’re kind of like and that was hard, I really struggled to only use the one leg we’re used to that central pattern generator taking over and just going right left right left right left. So by breaking it down and making it a bit granular you can teach yourself that new technique driving through the bottom of stroke with a flat foot. This is a subtle point. If you cannot drive to the bottom of the stroke without a little hiccup or a dead spot, that means probably one your hamstrings inhibited or turned off. Not that likely could be weak could be not driving through a lot forced but it’s more likely by far that your saddles way too high. When the saddles too high, you can’t drive through the bottom of the stroke effectively. And this is where Lemonds book was misleading, he described scraping the mud off the bottom of your foot. And whenever we scraped the mud off of the bottom of out foot what we tend to do is point your toe into plantar flexion and scrape that mud. But really what I want you to do is drive with hamstring into the heel cup of the shoe with a flat foot; feel your heel pulling into or driving into the bottom of that shoe pull back not up. That’s the key. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:34:22

And if you really want to dial in your saddle height on your own to the point where you can activate hamstring at the bottom of the stroke and eliminate the dead spot. You can do this drill and progressively lower your saddle until you feel that connection, you will feel the dead spot disappear especially on a steep seated climb, even pedaling with both legs. But when you raise your saddle, you’ll feel the point where it disconnects and you can no longer drive at the bottom dead center of the stroke. This is not a trivial point of my fitting philosophy and it is also not accepted by a lot of other fitters. There are many other fitters who completely ignore this landmark and will put this out on much higher. And I don’t know if their logic is they want to exceed extension, or if they just think it looks neat aesthetically, to have some plantar flexion to the bottom of the stroke. I can’t say what their logic is because I’m not in their brains. But for me, this is a really I’ve, again ridden a million different satellites and seen him in a million different riders. Some riders can ride blissfully their whole career plantar flexing to the bottom of the stroke and seemingly do okay, my opinion is they’re getting up performance because they’re exacerbating the dry the dead spot at the bottom of the stroke. What camouflage is this or makes riders completely unaware of it if they live in flat terrain that we never know. And they come to Colorado man I saw compared to my peer group, every time we go to a hill I get dropped must be the altitude. Yeah, probably is some of the altitude but it’s also because your saddles like 30 mils too high, and you’re not even close to using hamstring at the bottom. So you’ve got this obnoxious egg shaped pedal stroke with a massive three, four and a massive 910 we do not want an oval egg shaped pedal stroke, we want to smooth things out. We accept that the pedal stroke will become more pointed at higher intensities. really short, sharp seated efforts, let alone standing totally different discussion. Yeah, not even approach standing in this podcast could be its own episode. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:36:09

But so pedal stroke does change based on intensity and terrain, of course. But these guidelines apply to most situations. And they should be goals. For most situations, when you start going really hard when you’re doing maximal seated efforts. That’s when you become Chris case, and you let the programming take over and do your best. Because the harder and faster you’re pedaling as soon as you cross threshold. In particular, you operate in late sympathetic nervous system activity. And that means a central pattern generator is going to take over more and more because you are retreating into the reptile brain. The harder you go, the more under threat your system perceives it to be even though it’s a self imposed threat, it’s a stimulus, it’s a load. So your body’s going to default to whatever it knows. So that’s why we use the lower intensities to reprogram and make new engrams for smoother pedaling. And the higher intensity stuff. We let it take care of itself as best we can. And there’s a certain amount of personality that comes on the bike when people go hard. And if you want evidence that just search Tommy voeckler and you know exactly what I’m talking about.

 

Chris Case  1:37:10

Would you ever recommend to people that they discard temporarily or forever? They’re clipless pedals and ride flat pedals? 

 

Colby Pearce  1:37:21

Great question. So there’s a pretty cool article out there we’ll refer to in our show notes from a guy named Bike James, his website is bikjames.com.

 

Chris Case  1:37:33

James Wilson, I believe is his name

 

Colby Pearce  1:37:35

I believe you’re correct. And I think this guy’s got some pretty smart things to say. He makes a pedal called the catalyst pedal. And his whole thing is that we really don’t need clipless pedals, he’s not anti clipless pedal, he’s not saying that no one needs them. In particular, and I would agree with that statement for sure. I’m not saying everyone should go put flats on the road bikes, but he makes some pretty powerful arguments as to why clipless pedals actually can cause some dysfunction. In particular, he focuses on the emphasis of pulling up at nine o’clock, and he and I are on the same page, in this respect. I think that that just confounds people’s pedaling styles and confuses the nervous system a bit. And normally what I see whenever someone comes in, and they tell me they’re pulling apart at nine, they think they’re doing it on both sides. And they’re not they’re doing it more on one than the other. And, okay, basic logic for a moment, if we have a central pattern generator, that’s basically saying push left, push, right, push left, push, right, and you’re trying to add to that programming by saying, push left, pull up, right, push left, pull up, right, that’s too many programs for most people, and one of them’s going to get dumped. And the first one that gets dumped is the non dominant pull up. And then what happens is you pull up harder on one side than the other and you begin to rotate the pelvis around the axis of the C tube.  Hence the comment, I feel like I’m twisted on the pike. And for those of you who have worked with me, you will know this, but for those of you who are perplexed by the fact that you are twisted around the saddle, the axis of the bike or you feel like you’re twisted, and you think you’re the only person who’s like that, you’re not, I’m telling you, in fact, it is far more common for people to have that sensation than not. And the first place to try to the first place to look at this is exactly where what James Wilson suggests, which is how often do you ride a bike with flat pedals? Do you have a townie? Ride it with flat pedals. He hypothesizes and one of his articles which is called the flat pedal Manifesto, which is a great title. I think that some of the problems or dysfunction occur in cyclists when they become cyclists rather quickly step into the sport and they immediately transition to clipless pedals and they fail to learn the basic technique of pedaling a flat and His kind of philosophy is that if you learn to pedal on flats first and then periodically use, I think I’m speaking for him a bit here, maybe we’ll have on the podcast at some point. His last bit is that if you learn to use flats properly and then supplement with clipless pedals at times, you might be okay. And I would agree with that, because it’ll sort of baseline your technique and prevent you from starting to develop that habits of yanking up too hard, or becoming too dependent on that clip in a clipping aspect or that clip that fixed aspect of the pedal. So here’s a good quote from James Wilson on his site. “The human body is not set up so the muscles are mirror images of each other. The hamstrings are not the backside quads, the hamstrings are made to powerfully extend the hips while less powerfully flexing the knee. And the quads are made to powerfully extend the knee while less powerfully flexing the hip. Together, they both work with and counteract each other to produce lower body locomotion. Train the hamstrings to flex the hips and stabilize the knee and the quads to flex the knee and help stabilize the hip joint. That is how those muscles function in real life and how we should train them not based on the old model of training each muscle that crosses a joint to powerfully flex it.” 

 

Colby Pearce  1:41:19

So I like this quote from James a lot, because he’s simply pointing out really that the body is it’s a cybernetic organism, which is just a system of systems. And we do tend to think of muscles as individual pulleys and levers. And I think that can be instructive. From a learning standpoint, we need to understand that muscles don’t work that way. They work synergistically. Same concept as we don’t eat carbohydrates, we eat waffles, we don’t eat protein, we eat a steak or some eggs. foods are never found in nature are broken down into macronutrients, a pile of macronutrients and hamstrings are never found in nature just, you know, flexing the knee on their own right.

 

Chris Case  1:42:07

So that’d be weird,

 

Colby Pearce  1:42:08

right? So when we pedal all these muscles move in a synchronistic fashion. And that’s why I think ultimately, the best way to train your pedal stroke or improve it is to use methods that are real world on the road pedaling drills. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:42:26

So just to tie a knot on that pedal drill conversation, the two things you can do to help figure out pedal stroke and understand and Intuit what I’m describing. One, put your bike in the trainer, make it level, make it a trainer that somehow allows you to apply the rear brake so that you can have some force to push against the crank statically in different locations. If the engineer some way to do that, if you’ve got a smart trainer. Start with your pedal at 12 o’clock. Put the pedal the foot close to flat, push down and forward, push forward and down forward first down second kind of thing about this directionally, like East northeast. Can you do that? Or is it even mechanically possible? do an experiment slide your butt all the way forward on the nose, the saddle, see what happens? Now try to push it down with your flat foot. Can you do that? Probably not. I’m not looking at you. I don’t know for sure what you’re joints are doing. But most riders when they do this, their toe points down and they can’t push down. If they were to push down into the heel, they would actually be pushing the crank backwards or through the bottom bracket that is clearly not constructive pedal force. Now slide your butt all the way back to the very, very extreme end of your saddle. Depending on where your saddle is, this may be optimal setback or way too far. Now push down at 12 o’clock. What happens? Do you have a solid platform to push on and you feel the foot kind of maintain its level location. Even though the ball the foot the axle is near the ball the foot or does your heel drop down excessively that tells you some things about the mechanical setup of the leverage you have on the pedal at 12 o’clock. Work through each hour. One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock at three o’clock does your foot push straight down over the pedal slide for the saddle, slide backwards in the saddle. Work your way down to bottom dead center which is at about 530 pull back. Feel the heel of the foot driving into the heel cup of the shoe. Is your toe pointed into plantar flexion at this moment or can you do it with a flat foot. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:44:43

Go back to nine o’clock, yank on the pedal. Observe what happens notice that when you pull up hard and and use the hamstring to flex the knee that the toe will go into plantar flexion. Notice that this sets up Power phase in a poor moment of joint angle force at the beginning of the power phase at 12 o’clock, play with this on the trainer and you’ll begin to hopefully understand into it what muscles are firing and which ones aren’t. You can start to disseminate what aspects of your bike fit may or may not be set up to pedal this way. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:45:23

Then go out and try my dead legged pedaling drills. The first effort is both legs tempo that helps you get warmed up and remember what it’s like to ride your bike. In case you forgot, and then efforts to and for our left leg and possibly six efforts, three, five and seven, are right leg, go home, compare the Delta, try for a couple of weeks. What’s nice about this drill is because you’re doing it on a grade of around five to 7%, your gains could be pretty low, you’re only pulling with one leg so your cadence might be in the 50 6070s. Just like Chris and Trevor spoke about on their recent episode on big gear efforts with Neal Henderson, maintain alignment. In particular, we don’t want the knee to collapse immediately towards the top tube, we want the knee or the tibial tuberosity, which is the little bump just below your patella, to be roughly over the middle of the foot or the second third toe somewhere in there. During the power phase of the stroke. If your knee is hitting the top tube, you’re setting yourself up for some problems. So if you can’t seem to make power, without the knee hitting the top tube, then go home and find someone who can help you.

 

Colby Pearce  1:46:36

Practice these efforts because they’re at a low cadence. When we’re pedaling at a lower cadence and a high torque, you can feel the pressure of the bottom of the shoe or the footbed on your foot. That proprioceptive feedback and the low cadence helps you learn this pedal stroke, it’s going to be much harder to cognitively learn a new pedal stroke at a higher power or particularly over threshold, because the central nervous system kind of defaults to sympathetic mode, or at a higher cadence because it’s just too quick for you to process what’s happening consciously. So that’s why riding at a lower cadence can really help you learn to fire this new engram of movement and drive through with a flat foot at the bottom of the stroke drive over 12 o’clock at a flat foot, make use of the entire power phase 12 to six. Focus on one leg at a time repeat. wash, rinse, repeat. That is the essence of learning is perfect form. Perfect practice makes perfect. That’s my favorite drill for learning how to pedal on this stuff.

How to pedal a bike revisited and how to find a fitter

Chris Case  1:47:41

We just spoke for nearly two hours, maybe it’s been over two hours at this point. I want to borrow a element of fast talk here, bring it into this show, because there was a lot to digest. And this is maybe that was I don’t want to say it was too much. But that was a lot. And now we’re going to give you a distilled version of that your take home message Kobe on how to pedal a bike. Can it be done?

 

Colby Pearce  1:48:18

Can it be done? distill, condense one pedal with a flat or nearly flat foot for the entire stroke. To emphasize the first phase, the power stroke, that’s when the cranks vertical at 12 o’clock. Really focus your effort on beginning to push forward and down at 12 into one and two o’clock. And then focus on 435 530 pulling back not up. But back at the bottom of the stroke, don’t worry about three, four and five, they will take care of themselves. That’s your natural instinct to push down. We’ve all got that. So what you’re doing is taking that natural phase, that ability to push down and you’re smoothing it by focusing on the I’ll say horizontal aspects of the pedal stroke pushing forward at the beginning as soon as that cranks vertical and pulling back into the heel cup of the shoe at the bottom. That’s pretty much it.

 

Chris Case  1:49:23

There you go. How’s that?

 

Colby Pearce  1:49:25

Wow, all that talk about that just do that. Just do that do that if you can’t do those things, then you need to look at saddle offset saddle height, cleat position footbeds you need a bike fit or possibly, if you really can’t, if you’re convinced all those things are dialed and you really can’t do that. It’s possible also that your body is a little bit mechanically challenged and you need some myofascial release, some mobility work, some strength and conditioning, etc.

 

Chris Case  1:49:55

You’re only one man all those listeners out there are clamoring to Get a bike fit with Colby Pierce but they can’t because a they don’t live here B you can’t see them all, etc, etc. Oh, that’s just

 

Colby Pearce  1:50:06

lies and propaganda. They make airplanes for that.

 

Chris Case  1:50:08

Oh, so you do want to see all these people But my question is going to be okay, so they can’t get here they don’t you know? Yes. Is there is there a Is there a way and they and they buy into this flat let’s call it a philosophy because you know, there have been some moments in here that they they vent to other fitters and they’re like Ned, Coby Pierce, he’s a dumb dumb, but they’ve listened to this episode. They’re like Colby Pierce is awesome. How do they find a fitter that agrees with this philosophy? Is there a Steve Hogg approved fitting database?

 

Colby Pearce  1:50:42

Indeed. So there are two references I can send you to we’ll put the links to these in the show notes. But one is if you go to Steve Hogg bike fitting.com on his front page, he’s got a landing dealy Bob called this deep hog bike fitting team and it details the after count now 12345 bear with me 6789 1011 fitters worldwide who are certified to train as these methods,

 

Chris Case  1:51:12

that’s a small number. that’s a that’s a exclusive crew.

 

Colby Pearce  1:51:16

Steve has very high standards as who he lets in his club, clubhouse, I was the second train fitter under his method. We have fitters on just about every continent now. Well, not the icy ones. So if you have 

 

Chris Case  1:51:35

there’s no penguins that are Steve hug approved. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:51:37

Not so far. 

 

Chris Case  1:51:38

Damn. I want my bike fit with an emperor penguin. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:51:42

We do have a guy in Scotland and a guy in Canada. So in Ontario, I mean, that’s pretty icy, right, that counts. So we have fitters worldwide, that’d be my first choice. The second option, if you can’t find anyone on Steve’s list, that’s a good resource. And I get this question quite a bit. So I’m happy to share this on the site, there is a website called the International bike fitting Institute, or IB, f i dash certification.com. I’ll drop that into the show notes as well. And when you go to that page, you’ll see a menu that says for fitters, and for cyclists, and then there’s a find a fitter button you can hit, and it sends you to a map with all sorts of little happy gizmos. And you can zoom in to your chosen location and find a fitter. And it’s got information about the fitters on the site, including their credentials, and it rates them levels one through four, and the higher the rating, the better they are at sort of backwards from USA cycling and categorization. When you’re four, you’re really good. And there are some good fitters on there. So it’s a good resource for people to learn a little bit more about their local fitters, and if you get really lost, you can also just email me and I’ll do my best to give you my hand selected fitters, there are some fitters that I definitely recommend who are not on this list or who are on IBF I better not Steve, it’s not an exclusive club, we are

 

Chris Case  1:53:04

very good. Now everybody knows how to pedal a bicycle.

 

Colby Pearce  1:53:08

Hey, go forth and pedal the bicycle. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:53:12

Hi there cycle knots. Just some quick thoughts to wrap up this podcast. There are a few bits I want to mention. I do my best to speak with clear language and the highly complex topic obviously. Upon editing, I did notice a few errors. Not critical errors in the sense that I said the wrong thing, but more a few terminologies that were juxtaposed. Unfortunately, given time constraints and the enormous amount of work that all of us have to do, it’s not always possible to edit every single one of these. So if you get confused, or you want to call me out, then just hit me and we’ll discuss. Remember, my email is cycling in alignment at fast labs.com. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:54:01

Also, I’ll mention that I want to unpack a bit about the primal patterns of cycling. These are Paul cheks ways of reducing all sports movement into six. primal movements are primal pattern movements as he calls them. These are the bend, lunge, push, pull, squat, and gait. Cycling has all of these in some form except for the squat. The squat would be both legs at once. So Cycling is a bend pattern. It is a hip hinge to pattern statically. That’s how you sit on the bike. It’s continual lunging as we pedal the left leg and the right leg. These are effectively lunge movements. When we pull on the bars, specifically when standing out of the saddle, we’re pulling with either the ipsilateral or contralateral arms. ipsilateral is just a really fun way to say Same sided, and contralateral means other sided. So when you’re pulling on the hoods on a steep climb, for example, out of the saddle, you’re pushing down with the left leg, you’re pulling up with the left arm. Provided that your core is strong enough to help deal with all these forces made it the distal segments, otherwise known as your foot and your hand, you’ll go straight in the bike will go forward. But if your core is really weak, then all that force pulling on the bar and pushing on the pedal just results in a lot of twisting of the torso. So the pull pattern is used pretty extensively during cycling. Also, sometimes they’ll pull with the contralateral arm when you are sprinting or accelerating with a lot of force depends a bit on the starting speed, the acceleration, the gear in the Grade some other things, we can pull with the ipsilateral, the contralateral or both arms at once, and different moments of cycling. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:55:56

Also, there is a push pattern in cycling in the sense that we are holding our torso up specifically we are in the drops, if you think about it, you’re pushing against the drops to support some of the weight of your torso. If your saddles far enough behind behind the bottom bracket, then your saddle supports most of the weight of your torso or at least more than your arms do, and shoulders do. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:56:19

Of course, we talked a lot in the podcast about how the gait cycle is, I think the neurological basis for pedaling. So what I’m saying is of the primal power movements, we’ve got all of them in cycling to some degree except the squat. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:56:38

Also, in regards to the dead leg drill I described on the pod, there are a couple bits I want to mention. And I’ll wrap these up quickly. I know it’s been a lot of a long episode. But when you are learning this drill, or really anytime you’re pedaling, I like to ask my athletes to think about the foot as a tripod. What does that mean? Think about the way you’re delivering force to the shoe or the pedal and visualize the center of the heel bone of the calcaneus on the bottom of the foot, the center of the first metatarsal and the center of the fifth metatarsal. The metatarsals are just the ball of the of the foot, the ball of the first toe, that’s the first metatarsal ball of the fifth toe, that’s what we would describe as the the fifth metatarsal. So when you have even pressure on those three points, then the foot is a tripod. And it is a strong foot that delivers force evenly. If you are a pronator, meaning your foot or ankle rolls towards the midline of the body collapses in towards the top tube, you probably are placing more pressure on the first metatarsal and probably the inside of your heel. So to correct that you would begin to make force by delivering it a little more to the outside of the foot towards the fifth metatarsal head until things feel more balanced. This is a really, I won’t say complex task. But this is something that requires some training and some knowledge in the world of strength and conditioning. But I’m just planting the seed This is something you want to investigate. If you get chronic pressure at the ball the foot, there’s a good chance you’re a pro inator .Pro nation is any time any body part collapses towards the midline. So if your knees are brushing the top tube, that’s fine a sign of pronation. If your ankles collapse and your ankle bones hit the crank arm, that is a sign of pronunciation. Likewise, if your shoulders role in that as a sign of pronation, that’s a form of pronunciation. I’m not saying pronation is good or bad. It’s kind of demonized, but you should understand the concept. The opposite of pronation is supination or expansion away from the midline of the body. So imagine taking your arm out and supinating a shoulder by rolling it out and your hand will come up until it can hold a bowl of soup. There you go. There’s your mnemonic. Now you remember what supination is all the time and you won’t get confused on which one is pronation and which one is supination. 

 

Colby Pearce  1:59:14

Another point on the dead legs. They’re a good training exercise and they can help instill some of the philosophies I have in how to pedal a bike. They can also be used as a diagnostic tool, meaning if one hamstring it gets a lot more sore or a higher rate a burn during the intervals then the other that’s means you’ve got an imbalance and you should look into that it could mean you’re using one hamstring more than the other. It could mean that one hamstring is inhibited. It could mean the ones to hamstring is overstretched. It could be near twisted around the pelvis there lots of rabbits to chase in this case. But we all love chasing rabbits. That’s why we’re here. So I’m just letting you know that if you do have big imbalances during that exercise, if you do two or three by left and two or three by Right and you’re getting a big difference in the power and misses stations you’re having either in the muscular burn might be one way or in the seat sit bone pressure on the saddle, otherwise known as the ischial tuberosities, the contact with the saddle, if you get more twisting or less pelvic stability, or maybe you’re back at sore, I’m one of them. Those are all signs. Anytime we have a symmetrical patterns or challenges that come up during training like this, we want to look at them and dig into it and try to figure out what’s going on. Likewise, if you feel that you are unable to make that foot pressure, like using the foot as a tripod, during one side or the other, that’s also something to look into trying to figure out if you’re supinating and pronating. There are lots of ways to handle that stuff. So I just want to give you a heads up on those little bit. 

 

Colby Pearce  2:00:55

Thanks again for listening. And again, if you have questions, cycling in alignment at fast labs.com I really appreciate you listening to my ramblings and my philosophies. gotten a lot of great feedback on this podcast and that’s what motivates me and inspires me to keep it going because I am here to help people and that’s what I’m getting from this for the most part. So thanks