Circle of Victory
Improving those circles can transform a perfectly fit cyclist into a devastatingly faster cyclist
to competitive cycling. These improvements combined with his physiology and fitness level have helped him dominate the last three Tours.
How can you perfect those little circles and transform yourself into a faster competitor? First off, you have to start by including technique training in your plans. You already include the fitness quotient and probably have it analyzed to the 9th degree. Now you just have to implement a technique factor in your total training plan and start analyzing that as well. Cycling is a sport, and most sports have techniques you must master to become successful. You are not exempt from this simply because you have been riding a bike since you were a child. As simple as pedaling may seem, there is still technique involved, which you can improve upon.
The most common technique deficits in a cyclist?s pedal stroke occur at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke. A perfect application of force would be a force applied perpendicular to the arc drawn by the pedal as it travels through the pedal stroke. Which means, at the top, the force should be directed straight forward while the pedal is passing through top dead center. Studies have shown in this area of the stroke (roughly 11 pm to 1 am on a clock face), there is usually very little force generated in this direction. At the bottom of the stroke, the perfect application of force would be straight backwards as the pedal passes through bottom dead center. Studies have shown in this area (roughly 5 pm to 7 pm) cyclists also generate little force in the described direction and often generate force applied straight down, parallel to the arc made by the pedal. This is wasted force as it does not apply tension to the chain and thus does not contribute to forward motion.
How do you correct these technique deficits? Other sports employ drills to master technique and cycling is no different. Repetitive drills are used to engrain correct motor patterns and strengthen the muscular system to support these correct patterns. A very powerful drill to improve pedaling technique is intervals of pedaling with only one leg. The use of only one leg forces you to apply force in the correct direction because you cannot compensate by using the other leg to drive the pedals around when you encounter a weak section of your stroke. This drill involves using an indoor trainer. Set up your bike on the trainer and place a stool or chair on each side of the bike to place the resting leg on. After a warm up, place one foot on the chair, make sure your hips are still square in the saddle, and smoothly pedal with only one leg. Faulty areas of your stroke will become apparent because your foot speed will drop in these areas and you may fall behind your freewheel and lose tension on your chain. Strive for constant foot velocity as you make the circle. Push your foot forward in your shoe as you clear