Tech­nique

Stand­ing will de­liver big re­sults on the bike

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Peter Glass­ford

Find more power by ped­alling out of the sad­dle

For­get beet juice and co­conut wa­ter: stand­ing is a cheap and ef­fec­tive way to boost your per­for­mance to­day, for free. You can see this skill in the most ath­letic mo­ments of our sport – the Tour de France sprint, moun­tain bike climbs and cy­clocross starts. Whether you want to climb bet­ter on the road or nav­i­gate tricky root sec­tions on lo­cal trails, you’ll need to get out of the sad­dle. By sim­ply stand­ing up on your bike, an ath­letic skill many cy­clists are miss­ing, you’ll en­joy rides more, and maybe even get on the podium. When you ride, you can sit or stand to shift the load to dif­fer­ent mus­cles. When you stand, you can use your body weight to turn the ped­als over ath­let­i­cally as you go up and over tough ter­rain. If you have had to walk up a climb on a road bike or had your front wheel un­weight on a steep trail, then it is worth prac­tis­ing stand­ing to give your­self op­tions. You may have heard that stand­ing takes more en­ergy than seated ped­alling, but that ig­nores the me­chan­i­cal and en­er­getic ad­van­tage of car­ry­ing speed or lever­ag­ing your body weight over vari­able ter­rain. Ef­fi­ciency, in the sense it is of­ten used – rid­ing all day at a slow pace – is not al­ways de­sir­able. Some­times it is worth ex­pend­ing more en­ergy for a short pe­riod to climb a hill rather than slog­ging at a low r.p.m. for a longer du­ra­tion. Sim­i­larly, mak­ing an ac­cel­er­a­tion from a group or get­ting to the first cor­ner is not a low-en­ergy move, but can be race-win­ning one. When you stand, your goal is to ride in a straight line as you lean the bike back and forth. As your right foot reaches the bot­tom of its pedal stroke, you lean the bike to the left, and vice versa. Start off by do­ing these ac­tions slowly up a grad­ual climb. Then be­gin adding speed. For an­other ex­er­cise, set up some cones in a grassy field. Keep your out­side foot down and un­clip your in­side foot just be­fore you turn around a cone. With your in­side foot off of the pedal, you are tricked into putting all your weight onto the out­side pedal, which you can trans­fer to your stand­ing ped­alling.

If you spend a lot of time on a spin bike or trainer, keep in mind that such de­vices may keep you fit, but will hin­der your stand­ing skill. Be­cause your bike is locked in a ver­ti­cal po­si­tion, the trainer teaches you to pedal with­out mov­ing the bike, which is awk­ward and lacks the ath­leti­cism we want out­side. My coach­ing clients see lim­ited in­door stand­ing work for this rea­son. In­stead, I rec­om­mend us­ing any out­door rides on the fat bike or trips to a bike park to work on stand­ing form and strength train­ing for power de­vel­op­ment. Big­ger rid­ers pay a higher price for el­e­vat­ing their bod­ies fre­quently and for ex­tended pe­ri­ods. That may sound like a dis­ad­van­tage for the big rid­ers, but they typ­i­cally also have bet­ter power seated than smaller rid­ers. While body size will de­ter­mine how much you stand to a de­gree, the ter­rain and event type is a big­ger de­ter­mi­nant. Smooth and high-speed cri­terium races re­quire aero­dy­nam­ics and, ide­ally, ef­fi­ciency through smooth cor­ner­ing. But you need to get out of the sad­dle to attack, stay on wheels and sprint. Moun­tain bik­ers are in and out of their sad­dles con­stantly to be ef­fi­cient and to let their bikes roll over ter­rain. Gen­er­ally, fit­ter rid­ers can stand more. But I be­lieve the skill is only par­tially cor­re­lated to fit­ness. Many of my clients find that as their skills im­prove, they can stand to main­tain a pace up a moun­tain bike climb or jump on a wheel to stay in a group. Once they have pro­gressed their stand­ing skill and fit­ness, bet­ter re­sults and even an up­grade to the next cat­e­gory are not far be­hind.

For long rides or ef­forts, you’ll want to sit more and save stand­ing for get­ting up steep sec­tions or keep­ing the cranks turn­ing as you start to fa­tigue. Of­ten, road rid­ers will sit and grind at ca­dences lower than 50 r.p.m. or even walk up steep grades rather than stand­ing and shift­ing their weight side to side to es­sen­tially “walk on the bike.”

Are you ready to use more mus­cles and some ath­leti­cism to ride more com­fort­ably and faster? Spend­ing some time each week, even 10 min­utes, work­ing to find your bal­ance at the bot­tom of each pedal stroke will help you get started with ef­fi­cient stand­ing. Try climb­ing out of the sad­dle for por­tions of hills and adding a sprint or two into your longer rides to help work on stand­ing at higher in­ten­si­ties as well.

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