Sycling Snippets

by Bobby Nefdt

4. Climbing Faster for Longer – Part 2 (Pedalling in Circles)

This is a phrase that I use to describe a fluent pedalling action, particularly on a climb. You may notice some riders ‘bobbing’ on a climb. This is normally the result of a rider exerting too much pressure, or all their pressure, on the downstroke whilst pulling hard on the bars. It is as though they were riding without cleats.

The purpose of cleats is to enable the rider to pull on the upstroke whilst pushing with the opposite leg on the downstroke. The circular motion comes when the leg is almost extended at the bottom of the downstroke and you ‘scrape’ your foot backwards before pulling upwards on the upstroke. The top foot, at the top of the upstroke ‘scrapes’ forward before commencing the next downstroke. Effectively you are turning the pedals (exerting pressure) at every point of the circular motion, thus pedalling in a circle.

Practising pedalling in circles: The method of practising smooth pedalling I use is to choose a fairly steep climb with a consistent gradient (Howick Rd - from the Show Grounds to Athlone Circle). Using a cadence of between 60-80rpm, sit back in your saddle (using your glutes), resting your hands lightly on the bars (without holding). Concentrate on pushing down, scraping backwards, pulling up, scraping forward, pushing down.... Do not pull on the handlebars and try to keep your upper body still – no bobbing! Slide forward on the saddle when your glutes tire to use your quads and continue the circular motion.

Very often riders, when they tire, begin to bob. The quads and the hamstrings tire and they push on the downstroke and pull with their arms to get to the top of a climb. Try to resist the urge before you get tired and try to pedal in circles.

We’ll chat later about strengthening those muscles used in this method of climbing.

Have fun!