Cycling in Circles - Learn Effective Pedaling

Most beginners to the sport of cycling assume that you just have to push hard down on the pedals in order to be effective, but they are misinformed. What results from this is what I like to call the "waddling duck," pushing down side to side to move yourself forward. In fact, they only have about a quarter of the stroke perfected.

Without being too technical, to get maximum efficiency you should apply force perpendicular to the crank arm (the piece of metal connecting the pedal to the gears) throughout the circle made by the pedal. Trying to do this perfectly requires alot of practice and could drive your crazy, but breaking the circle up into fourths makes things more manageable. All you have to do is develop the motion and then practice it.

We'll start at the 3 o'clock position. This is where you want to push straight down, which is a simple motion that most people have lots of practice with.

Next comes the 6 o'clock position, where your leg is extended the farthest. While approaching this position you should use the image of "scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe." This will get you to pull the pedal towards your back wheel.

Now we're at the 9 o'clock where you should "pull" the pedal up. I use quotes for this because pulling isn't exactly necessary to accomplish a good circular stroke. Simply lifting the weight of your leg on the upstroke will allow your other leg which is pushing down to be more effective. Not taking the weight off your pedal makes your downward leg have to push your other leg up.

Finishing your circular movement off is 12 o'clock, where you want to push your knee towards the handle bars.

So while your cycling, you want to think briefly, "push down," "scrape mud off of shoe," "pull leg up," "push knee towards handle bar."

To practice good form, you want to lower your cadence (the speed of your pedaling) to about 60 rpm, so that your movements are slower and easier to manage. You first want to concentrate on one leg at a time, and then eventually both legs together.

Doing this for the first five minutes of your ride will improve your technique and efficiency.