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  #1  
Old 03-16-2009, 09:13 AM
csi & legend ti csi & legend ti is offline
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Dead Spot In My Pedal Stroke

Hello,

I have been working on my cadence for the last 6-8 weeks. My cadence has gone from 70-80 up to 80-90 while climbing. Doing 90-100 on flats to rolling terrain. Don't notice any flat spots while sitting and spinning.

My problem comes when I stand to climb. The dead spots are very noticeable. I've tried a bigger gear no change. Tried spinning faster and slower still have those dead spots. This is something that I noticed over the weekend.

Any advice the group can offer would be greatly welcomed.

Jim
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2009, 09:36 AM
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regularguy412 regularguy412 is offline
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Try to keep your hips as far back as possible. The general rule I've tried to use is to let the nose of the saddle just barely brush the back of my thighs once every few pedal strokes. Granted, this approach goes away when climbing 'very' steep patches. However for most moderate inclines, this method helps keep the BB more 'out in front' and allows you to still use your hamstrings to pull the pedal through the bottom.

Mike in AR
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  #3  
Old 03-16-2009, 12:31 PM
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WadePatton WadePatton is offline
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Don't put any weight on the bars. Pulling up on the bars is fine, but don't lean on them. Just a few inches body position shift rearward is all it takes. Seef that helps. It helped me. Thanks to DK.
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:15 PM
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Ozz Ozz is offline
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What is your cadence when standing? Maybe you need to find a bigger gear and slow your cadence down. Focus on the "up" and don't worry about the down....it's happen.

Your bars are there for balance. Keep your weight back and on your pedals....find your rhythm

Where's Ti Designs? He's the "pedal stroke" yogi......

BTW - excellent choice in bikes!
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  #5  
Old 03-16-2009, 03:08 PM
John M John M is offline
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Keep practicing

Climbing out of the saddle will never feel as smooth as spinning in the saddle, so don't worry about a little herky-jerkyness. Keep working on it. You'll get smoother as a higher cadence becomes more natural.
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  #6  
Old 03-16-2009, 03:22 PM
nobrakes nobrakes is offline
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One thing that really improved my spin is PowerCranks. I have been using them regularly for about 3 years, since a serious crash left me partially paralyzed on my right side.
I know they are very expensive, and they are a lot of work to use, but the results I've had with them have amazed my neurologist. At first, I couldn't even bring my right leg up in a full circle, and now I have a very nominal dead spot at the top of the stroke. There are many pro cyclists that swear by the PowerCranks.
This time of year I keep them on my windtrainer-bound bike, and use my standard-cranked bikes on the road, but I feel that the 3-4 times a week of windtraining with the PowerCranks truly helps improve my iregular cadence enough that none of my regular cycling friends even notice I have a problem.
I have no commercial interests in PowerCranks, I'm just a guy who found a good solution that could be useful for anyone looking to improve their spin.
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  #7  
Old 03-16-2009, 04:24 PM
Sandy Sandy is offline
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Jim

Quote:
Originally Posted by csi & legend ti
Hello,

I have been working on my cadence for the last 6-8 weeks. My cadence has gone from 70-80 up to 80-90 while climbing. Doing 90-100 on flats to rolling terrain. Don't notice any flat spots while sitting and spinning.

My problem comes when I stand to climb. The dead spots are very noticeable. I've tried a bigger gear no change. Tried spinning faster and slower still have those dead spots. This is something that I noticed over the weekend.

Any advice the group can offer would be greatly welcomed.

Jim
I have some advice. Get in touch with Ti Designs.


Sandy
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  #8  
Old 03-16-2009, 06:11 PM
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Ti Designs Ti Designs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csi & legend ti
My problem comes when I stand to climb. The dead spots are very noticeable. I've tried a bigger gear no change. Tried spinning faster and slower still have those dead spots. This is something that I noticed over the weekend.

My guess is that you are "bouncing off the bottom". In the saddle it's easy to learn where the bottom of the pedal stoke, and it's also easy to figure out how to fire the hamstring to pull the pedal across the bottom of the pedal stroke. Out of the saddle the body sorta works against you. You know how when you fire one muscle, the opposing muscle relaxes? Well, in extending your leg your quads fire - it's part of supporting your weight on the pedal. If the quads fire, the hamstrings relax, so you have downforce but no ability to change the direction at the bottom of the pedal stroke. The hitch in the pedal stroke (which you'll notice far more on a trainer) is the fact that when your full body weight is on the pedal at the bottom, it comes to a halt.

Here's how I smooth out out of the saddle climbing: Set the bike up on a trainer, it works best if the front end is up higher than the back end. You're going to need a huge gear to support your body weight. In what I call survival mode - climbing out of the saddle with mostly just body weight, I'm looking for the hip to be directly over the pedal, or way forward. Your body should be a vertical column of mass, leg straight as possible to minimize the use of the quads. As the pedal gets to around 5:00, twist your hips. This twisting motion replaces the hamstrings pulling the pedal back, and gets the other hip forward for the next pedal stroke.
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  #9  
Old 03-16-2009, 06:57 PM
csi & legend ti csi & legend ti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WadePatton
Don't put any weight on the bars. Pulling up on the bars is fine, but don't lean on them. Just a few inches body position shift rearward is all it takes. Seef that helps. It helped me. Thanks to DK.
Wade,

I have a loose grip on the bars. Just let the bike rock back and forth gently. I did play with where my body is on the bike, still have that darn dead spot.

Thanks,

Jim
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  #10  
Old 03-16-2009, 07:09 PM
csi & legend ti csi & legend ti is offline
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[QUOTE=Ti Designs]My guess is that you are "bouncing off the bottom". In the saddle it's easy to learn where the bottom of the pedal stoke, and it's also easy to figure out how to fire the hamstring to pull the pedal across the bottom of the pedal stroke. Out of the saddle the body sorta works against you. You know how when you fire one muscle, the opposing muscle relaxes? Well, in extending your leg your quads fire - it's part of supporting your weight on the pedal. If the quads fire, the hamstrings relax, so you have downforce but no ability to change the direction at the bottom of the pedal stroke. The hitch in the pedal stroke (which you'll notice far more on a trainer) is the fact that when your full body weight is on the pedal at the bottom, it comes to a halt.

Wow! That is what is happening. I thought the dead spot was at the top of the stroke. Your explanation makes a lot more sense.

More work climbing while standing. Repeat over and over....

Thanks,

Jim
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  #11  
Old 03-16-2009, 07:13 PM
giordana93 giordana93 is offline
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wow, I'm surprised Ti was so gentle on this one! here's my short take: it's not possible NOT to have a dead spot because at some point your weight has to shift from left leg to right, which is also the point at which the bike sway will shift to the opposite side (climbing, that is; imagine, conversely, a sprint: the high cadence and need literally to pull back on the bars, as opposed to putting some weight on it, etc. makes for a more-round pedal stroke). you need to make that transition as quickly and smoothly as possible
the biggest mistakes I see people doing when climbing out of the saddle are:
1. bending over at the hips. take a look at old pics of andy hampsten climbing--you see his whole torso, as vertical as possible, so the vector of his weight is going straight down to the pedals. if you can't see your chest because your're hunched over, it's bad form.
2. related to above, flailing the bike back and forth excessively, especially if it's a grade on which you can actually maintain a cadence over 60

ti had a really good post on out of saddle climbing form pretty recently (last 2 weeks, it seems); worth re-readin
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  #12  
Old 03-17-2009, 09:13 AM
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Ti Designs Ti Designs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giordana93
wow, I'm surprised Ti was so gentle on this one!
I'm in a good mood - one of my riders won both of her races last weekend. It's only the C race, but she's owned a bike for less than a year. We started on speed work this morning, she's got some snap.


Quote:
Originally Posted by giordana93
1. bending over at the hips. take a look at old pics of andy hampsten climbing--you see his whole torso, as vertical as possible, so the vector of his weight is going straight down to the pedals. if you can't see your chest because your're hunched over, it's bad form.
Explaining just one aspect of out of the saddle riding is kinda like having a car that only had 1st gear - doesn't get you too far. I explain it as a range of positions, from a pure conservative climbing position to a sprinting position. It's up to the rider as to which on they use at any second, and it's very easy to move from one to the other as conditions change.

Pure climbing position: This is what giordana93 is talking about, the torso beind a vertical column of weight over the hip, the hip is directly over the pedal, geared low enough so the pedal sinks with just body weight. It's more like climbing stairs, the energy spent it mostly in raising up the body weight for the next pedal stroke.

Sprinter's position: Sprinting has nothing to do with waiting around for gravity to help you drive the pedals. Sprinting is about trying to rip the bike in half by pulling up on the bar while pushing down on the pedal, or pulling back on the bar while pushing forward on the pedal. It's an out of the saddle position because the third point of contact - the saddle gets in the way between the restrictive structure - the bike, and the power source (your whole body). Your whole body is used, upper body works the bars, torso and abs stabalize the position and pull the foot into the pedal, both quads and glutes see huge tension.

Somewhere between those two positions is where you spend most of your time out of the saddle. Let's take a hill that I've done far too many times as an examply - Waltham street coming out of Woburn center, they call it the ripper. It's base grade is just short of 10% with small sections at 15%. Just to make it more fun, there's a 120 degree turn at the bottom with sand in the corner - you're coming into this without much momentum. Step 1: Sprinter's position - you need momentum, otherwise you would have to gear way down for the pure climbers position to work. Two or three pedal strokes later and you're moving, so your hips move forward and you shut down the quads and keep the heart rate under control. There's always a group when I ride the hill, some attacks go from the bottom - big mistake. Keep it under control, dropping the body weight on the pedal until the first steep section. At the steep sections your body weight alone isn't going to keep the pedals moving, so your body weight shifts forward a bit and you start pulling up on the bar as you're pushing down on that side pedal. Just enough to hold your speed on the steep section, once the grade eases it's right back up again. This is where the serious attacks come, it's still a hard climb, but it looks like you could attack hard and get over the top. They should put a sign "Caution exploding cyclists" there. The trick is to match the acceleration - drop almost to sprint position for a few pedal strokes, get on the wheel, but learn to stand up and take the workload off the quads as much as you can. The real goal is to get within striking distance of the top with your quads rested - don't forget to thank the guy who paced you up as you go past...
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  #13  
Old 03-17-2009, 03:44 PM
kerrycycle kerrycycle is offline
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Single leg drills...lots of 'em.
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  #14  
Old 03-17-2009, 03:52 PM
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Ray Ray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerrycycle
Single leg drills...lots of 'em.
Single leg drills OUT OF THE SADDLE? Man, they're bad enough seated. I won't do 'em regardless. But out of the saddle? Good luck with that!

-Ray
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  #15  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:55 PM
1centaur 1centaur is offline
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"As the pedal gets to around 5:00, twist your hips. This twisting motion replaces the hamstrings pulling the pedal back, and gets the other hip forward for the next pedal stroke."

Just did this on the trainer and it's very interesting. How much twist are we talking - how much does your knee on the twisted side point out? Feels like the twist allows me to pull the foot across the bottom but at the expense of a lot of joint torque, unless I'm supposed to twist the hip but keep the knee fairly straight.
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