Pedal Stroke Myth Busting

John Crook Talks Pedaling Stroke

I just watched an interesting youtube video wherein the esteemed purveyor of, John Crook, presents a case for busting a few pedal stroke myths. Citing studies done quite some time ago on the 7-11 team, he notes that ‘ankling’ and ‘pulling up on the upstroke’ may not be all they’re Crooked up to be.

Ankling is a form of pedaling in which the rider gets some ‘action’ out of the calves. While this may seem like a great idea, John Crook points out two pitfalls.

1). When you watch the video below, take note of the portion in which John demonstrates that ankling directs force during the downstroke toward the bottom bracket rather than directing it around the arch of the pedal stroke. Considering that you’ll be unable to get any benefit from pushing your crank arm toward the bottom bracket…don’t do it.

2).  Additionally, as with the other ‘myth’ that John seeks to break…using the smaller muscles used when doing ankling technique is a poor ‘bang for your buck’. It’s not efficient.

I kind of suspected that ankling may have its detractors. When I first started racing, I brought up the subject with my coach and he wasn’t too jazzed up about it.  I thought he’d reveal that it was a part of the secret arsenal of fast riding.

Hmm, I thought.

Maybe ankles should be limited to being a place to wear my sponsor’s socks.

Watch the video and see what you think.

Animation of a spinning bicycle pedal

What About ‘Pulling Up’?

John also shoots at the benefit of pulling up on the upstroke. Yes, there is more power generated when pulling up on the upstroke…but the metabolic cost is quite high.

Bottom-line? When you want to sprint like Cavendish, push down, pull up, and elbow your neighbor. In short, do anything you can to generate watts.

But if you’re looking to use as little oxygen to get down the road as possible, think twice before pulling up on the pedals.

I’m still convinced that it’s helpful to do the ‘scrape dog poop off the bottom of your shoe’ routine, as well as trying to ‘pedal over the top’.  But for the most part, don’t go overboard trying to maintain the same pressure on the pedals throughout the circle…it just isn’t going to happen.

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