With spring approaching you should be starting to think about riding more. While this winter the A group has turned into a fun, smash fest out to Lobethal, after our grand final on Saturday it is time to regroup a little bit and get some solid consistent miles into the legs.
However it is one thing to ride a bike hard and long it is another to make sure that you are able to convert ride power into ride speed on race day. For me the starting point is how you sit on your bike. While everyone has their own shape , size and set up there are a few things you can explore if you want to optimise performance.
The starting point is the hips.
The hips should create a solid platform to push the legs against You don’t want the back arched, rather you want the hips rolled slightly forward so the back maintains its natural, lower back, inward arch like we have when we are standing. Any arching out of the lower back is to be avoided.
As you pedal you want the hips to remain level with no up and down movement. Maybe as you ride have someone behind you observe your hips and let you know if they are rocking up and down as you pedal.
Your spine should keep a straight line between your hips and your shoulders. The best way to check this position while you are riding is to ask yourself: Is my core engaged? If your abdominal muscles are taking a break while cycling, it could result in a slouched riding position that could put pressure on your hands, shoulders or under carriage!
You should feel balanced between feet, hands and your bottom. Arms are slightly bent and relaxed with the backside sitting nicely on the meaty part of the seat. There should be no tension through the shoulders (tension means wasted energy). The wrists should be kept straight with no flex in them. Ideally you are riding on the drops, which make it more aerodynamic and easier to corner. But make sure your fingers can safely reach the brakes.
Again is it a little harder to see so someone else may be required to give you some feedback but aim to keep your knee tracking over the ball of your foot/pedal. If your knees are bowing out or cutting across the mid-line when you ride, it may lead to inefficiency and injury. It might also mean your seat height is too low or high. If this is you then some exploration is required.
So we connect with our bike though the seat, handlebar and pedals but how we find our final position is also reflects how we carry ourself on the bike. Sometimes some extra flexibility work can help us to hold better positions on the bike so if you haven’t yet maybe consider giving Millie’s Wednesday night yoga sessions a crack.
So next time you head out for a ride have a think about your set up and more importantly how you are holding your position on the bike. Does it feel strong and stable? Is it comfortable? Can you maintain a smooth pedal stroke throughout the pedal cycle? What happens when you get tired?
It is one thing to have a perfect bike fit; it is another to actually position your body on the bike correctly and hold it through an entire ride.