Does A Smoother Pedaling Stroke Make You Faster On The Bike?

“Stop pedaling in squares, pull up at the bottom, and strive for more balance between your right and left leg”. Advice on how to improve your pedaling is one of the first nuggets of wisdom given to beginning cyclists.

In the field of exercise science, research into pedaling efficiency goes back nearly 100 years [1].  Pedaling seems simple, science makes it sound complicated, and uncertainty lingers over its relative importance.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at some of the current research examining the pedal stroke, followed by a few suggestions on how to utilize science and data to make the most of your pedaling prowess.

Does Strength Training Make You Faster On The Bike?

**Check out our new seven-part series on strength training at this link.

As the cycling season shifts to off-season mode, the topic of strength training moves front and center. While few cyclists enjoy walking into a weight room bustling with grunting and texting meatheads, most would endure the punishment if it spelled more speed on the bike.

Before we answer the cycling performance question, it’s important to highlight the general health benefits of strength training.

‘Merica, The Tour de France, and Optimal Cadence

There’s nothing quite like celebrating ‘Merica, pounding hot dogs, and enjoying three weeks of the Tour de France.  July is the real “most wonderful time of the year” during which the greatest bike racers on the planet battle over the most storied tarmac in our sport.  For nearly 100 years the discussion over cycling cadence has been a component of this battle [1].

From Lance Armstrong’s high cadence during the 2000’s, to Chris Froome’s 120RPM death spirals up Mt. Ventoux, RPM’s have taken center stage during the most decisive moments of the Tour.

When to Ignore The Data

In cycling, accurate data can maximize your training efficiency, help you plot out specific race strategy, or give you something to mull over during a slow day at work. Heart rate, normalized power, left-right balance, gear selection; the list of real-time data streams expands every year.  Data is here to stay, but how much is too much?

Blood and Tissue

Taking in deep breaths of air, it seemed beyond belief that I was experiencing a vitality of life impossible to comprehend nearly six months earlier. As we rolled past palm trees and shoreline, sharing scars of donation and transplantation, I introduced Jacob to his first ride along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Two men, one organ.

Designing The Perfect Training Plan

November is a great time to begin sketching out a master plan.  We’re a few months removed from the intensity of the road season but quickly approaching the New Year.  Whether your goals include competing at nationals or surviving your first century, now’s the time to take an objective look at the calendar and create a road map for the upcoming season.