A pretty big caveat. I’m not surprised that cycling on a stationary bike at a fixed cadence has very little room for skill/technique improvements. This invalidates the results vis. real cycling in my book. Gear selection, out-of-saddle technique, etc. Though having said that I’d expect the skill-based component to be much smaller in riding than running as the movement pattern is much more constrained.
Still an interesting result, since it does show that there is a skill-based efficiency gain in running.
The evidence to the contrary came in the form of power-meter data from pro cyclists. It shows that professional cyclists instead use their power only in the down stroke of the peddle and have a far less “even” power through the cycle. Their technique is much more similar to a piston engine than a rotary.
Doesn't "spinning out" mean your power output is bottlenecked because you can't move your legs fast enough? It only happens when your gear is too low. I don't see how that's possible while climbing, regardless of what pedals you use. I ride with flats, and there's a 10% incline hill not far from where I live. I've climbed it several times (at about walking pace) and never had any problem.
Alternating left-right pushes feels very different than trying to maintain a continuous circular motion with quasi-equal force throughout. But unscientifically I can't notice any difference.
Clipping in is mostly a cargo-cult among non-pro riders
Otherwise there is no benefit and a lot of downsides in terms of how likely you are to get injured by poor cleat placement or saddle position.
On a constant-speed training bike without clip-in pedals, a road cyclist will be pretty far out of their element. A lot of the efficiency gain in cycling comes from adding rigidity to the power train between the foot and the road, and from the continuous power application that clip-in pedals and shoes enable.
The main reason for clipless, as I understand it, is for safety and maintaining one's foot on the pedal. When you're pedaling, if you are apply any down-force whatsoever on the upstroke, you're wasting power. So, a trained cyclist will always have their foot practically floating on the upstroke and their foot will drift position as they pedal unless something is keeping it in place.
As he acknowledges in the end, a lot of cyclists prefer clip-in pedals just due to stability. In my experience, it's not so much about the upstroke (which to be fair I am surprised was not measured to provide a power benefit), but the knowledge that I will never lose my footing. Without that knowledge, I simply wouldn't apply as much power.
This efficiency simply means getting a longer ‘glide’
Its very, very telling when climbing and also trying to attack as when applying extra good form will eek out benefits.
And I am sure that you would make a physical adaptation to a sufficiently different frame/fit geometry, though if your fit was "good enough" then upgrading might not incur much change on the physiological level.
At the end of the day I've seen massive improvements in my cycling ability when regularly doing a HIIT bike routine (such as sufferfest for example) on a trainer such as the wahoo kickr.
I could see this being true for road bikers... but any XCO, CXO, or Enduro rider depends heavily on training for:
* Finding efficient body position for climbing
* Weight shifting/wheel unloading while crossing features
* Discovery efficiency gains in pedal cadence for terrain, slope, camber
I did a cross country race last July. I started mountain biking in March (guess why).
I was in great cardiovascular shape from being a rower and my legs were it great shape too. However, I've already surpassed what I could during that hour of all-out effort by a large margin by learning to do the above skills efficiently. Even a year later I keep breaking my own records. Pretty crazy, I know I'll reach a plateau eventually but for an amateur that plain is quite high.
Mountain biking is a lot closer to mountain skiing than it is to race biking - very little locomotion, a whole lot of body balancing.
I feel like I waste a lot of energy on climbs, but I can't quite figure out why. Could use some help.
For XCO, one must learn to load/unload wheels as they go over obstacles. The more you practice this, the more efficient you get at it; so rather than just plowing through obstacles with the gas pedal floored, figure out how to traverse rocks and roots using weight shifting only. Learning to manual on flat ground with the seat post all the way down can probably teach you a ton about weight shifting.
Another big gain for me is learning how to judge how difficult a climb is and keeping a very steady pace up the climb. It takes practice, but the steadier your pace[power output] is, the more efficient it will be.
If you're not shifting constantly, you're not doing things correctly :) You should be shifting before you hit your climb and should time when you need to put power down with your shifts so you don't have to shift under load.
An oval chainring can help prevent pedal stalls at the top of stroke (I use the OneUp Components Cinch 32T) on both climbs and rock gardens.
Make sure your bike fits your body as we're all built pretty differently. Literally learn everything about stack height, seat tube angle, bar rise, head tube angle, reach, bottom bracket height, wheel base, chainstay length, etc. There's important pedaling dynamics like anti-squat that are affected by everything in that list :)
And of course, training, weight loss, etc as you probably already know.
- Once early in the season I tried letting a very fit fixie rider pace me up a canyon road until we literally couldn't pedal anymore due to leg muscle exhaustion. The fixie part is important because I had to stay in a much higher gear than I would have otherwise, and stand up and fight just to stay with him on the steep sections. We both collapsed and were near puking, and it took about ~15 mins of rest before we could ride down. Next day, before my legs had a chance to get sore, I did another regular climb. The rest of the season, I was unusually and noticeably faster than my friends. The workout where I pushed to exhaustion gave me a boost I didn't expect.
- Last couple of years I've worked up up to some longer rides, gone out for few super long rides on my own (50-100 miles). Having to work up the endurance to get through multiple big climbs in a ride, I've noticed, really helps me hold my own when I'm back riding shorter climbs with friends.
Generally just riding a lot will help too, technique comes with practice. Good luck!
BTW, it might be important that the sprint to exhaustion up the canyon was relatively short; it was 5 miles averaging medium steep, with spots up to 12% grade. I usually ride it in granny gear, “speed 1” on a 27-speed bike, smallest chain ring, largest on the sprocket. To follow the fixie I had to stay in speed 14 (middle chain ring, middle of the sprocket.)
One technique you can practice is calibrating your effort level in terms of watts or heart rate to the length of the climb. You need to get a feel for the maximum output you can sustain without getting gassed before you reach the summit.
But without a power meter you can certainly pace yourself by heart rate. Figure out your heart rate zones and then do some test rides holding your heart rate steady in a particular zone and sustain the effort as long as you can. Then you can estimate a maximum target heart rate for each climb segment based on how much time it should take.
You can also experiment with different pedaling cadences. Every cyclist has a different optimal cadence, but in general you want to shift down when climbing and keep the cadence high (unless you're intentionally doing a low cadence strength workout).
So if I have a power meter I have instant feedback on the power level, and if I know my target power level I can work up to it without overshooting.
HR, unlike power, is a lagging indicator so I am likely to overshoot, especially if I am poor at pacing to begin with.
Another thing you can do is thinking of saving some gas in the tank for the last bit of the climb where you'll sprint as you summit. Start with this in mind at the bottom
Bicycles are highly efficient themselves.. perhaps so efficient that they hide too many cues that riders would use to become more efficient.
And while the study might be flawed by using trainers and such if you try to study stuff in the real world with cyclists there's probably too much noise in the signals with all the strange stuff that goes on with cycling, like weather, traffic, group riding, etc..
The Lance Armstrong results showing him becoming more efficient in disagreement with the newer study could have been highly flawed as well if he was "protected" more by his team even in training as his career advanced, which we know he was. To say nothing of his ever changing cocktail of PEDs.
I do think any competitive rider will become more efficient after a year of coached riding with the benefit of a power meter & electronic tracking. Every pro today has that of course.
> When I pressed Kram and Swinnen for their preferred explanations, they pointed out that efficient runners use their stretchy tendons and ligaments to store elastic energy to be “recycled” from stride to stride. The push and pull between tendon and muscle is so finely tuned that your muscles stay roughly the same length throughout the stride instead of shortening and lengthening with each contraction. Optimizing this aspect of running is invisible to the naked eye and beyond conscious control, but it may be one of the crucial skills that improve with experience.
Efficient runners are striding 20 or 30% faster. Usually over 180 strides/minute.
If you look at the efficient runners head looks like it's floating smoothly. If you are bouncing you are losing energy.
I swear they just floated by... Their heads and shoulders just don't look like the move up and down at all. I'll never forget it. A thing of beauty.
> Is there anything we can say for sure? How about: Yes, you can get more efficient at running. You probably can’t get more efficient at cycling—at least not by an amount that’s worth spending a lot of time fretting about.
You don't have to keep the bike that still under you on the road, and that wastes energy.
"Training Makes Runners More Efficient, but not Spin Class Attendees"
I took up cycling as a personal passtime going for a number of hours at a time. I signed up for a fundraiser for a distance I didn't know I could complete. I asked a cyclist friend to spend a day with me to prep. One thing I sucked at was hills. He noticed what I was doing and said you can't downshift your way out of it, it's better to stick with a gear and power through it even if it mostly burns you out. Getting winded and moving slowly expending too much energy just to keep your balance isn't better. That was immensely better and there are likely so many other things that could be better tuned for efficiency.
Sorry guys but this is junk science
or as already mentioned the title is wrong.
"The 100 Most Influential Studies in Sports Medicine"