Quads and drops.

No one taught me how to ride a road bike, I bought it, got fit by a pro, and then started putting in the miles. It should come as no surprise that I’ve been doing it wrong.Perhaps “wrong” is a bad choice of words. I go forward, I move pretty quickly, but there is much more needed than just spinning the cranks to generate real power and speed. My popliteus muscle is constantly tweaked, and I feel like this is from pedaling from my calves instead of my quadriceps. None of this would matter if I was gently cruising around at 10 mph on a beach cruiser, but since I’m trying to get my average ride speed over 20 mph consistently I have to find better and more efficient ways of pedaling. Today I did an experiment on the bike – 1 hour in the drops or on the aero bars, no resting on the hoods. The drops are the lower curve of the handlebars. To access this position I have to flatten my back horizontally and place my arms in a chaturanga push-up. More importantly, the power in the cycle stroke must come from higher up the leg: from the quadriceps to the lower abdominal wall. Thus far in my cycling journey I’ve been relying on my calves to compensate for weak core strength, tight IT bands, and weak quads. NO MORE. For years I’ve known that all power in the body radiates from the core, the massive wrapping and sheathing of muscles around the human thorax. Extremity power is limited without key core strength, as all long muscle groups lead back to the thorax. Create a powerful, stable core and everything improves.

Knowing something and then accessing it are two entirely different things. Thus my decision today to restrict my position to the two most aerodynamic, and also potentially more powerful. The result?

17 miles in 58 minutes, a very narrow improvement.

I also scoped out the weight room in the place where I swim and I’m going to do weights twice a week. For real. I swear. No, seriously.

Also, if I get in to Vineman 70.3 on July 20th I’ll need to do serious hill repeats on both the bike and on foot. I spoke with a friend yesterday who did Vineman two years ago and he said it’s a great course, but very hilly. Looks like I’ll be running in the San Fernando valley heat soon.

At which point I will rename this blog “prepare for puking”.

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5 responses to “Quads and drops.

  1. “chaturanga push-up”… which only makes sense if you know yoga. Or if you know Beef knows yoga. Otherwise, it means as much as “Heimlich maneuver.”

  2. “Pardon me boy… is that a chaturanga push-up?”

  3. Duane read this yesterday and told me to tell you that chaturanga push-up almost lost him. And he’s done yoga. Me? I read it because I want to read what you write. Someone less motivated needs illustrations — either embedded in the blog or at least linked.
    And Seth? That’s a reference to the “Cat that ate your new shoes”?

  4. Spotted like a true punnish connoisseur, Stuart.

  5. What? Punnish… meant?

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