One of the goals of the Base period is to improve your speed skills -the unique techniques of your sport(s). At first these are learned by isolating them and making the movements slowly. As the movement pattern becomes ingrained the movement becomes faster and more complex as it is combined with other critical movements.
Pedaling a bike seems like it ought to be simple and require little in the way of skill. That’s not the case! In any group ride look around and you can pick out the riders who have good pedaling skills and those with poor skills. Efficiency – how much energy is wasted–or not – is what this is all about.
Athletes who are efficient at pedaling a bike are especially good at the top, bottom and recovery side of the pedal stroke. At the top they transition efficiently from pedaling up and back to pedaling forward and down. At the bottom of the stroke they do just the opposite without wasting energy. Riders who are not very good at pedaling make these transitions too late. This wastes a tiny amount of energy in every stroke. In one-hour you may make 5,000 to 6,000 pedal strokes. That is potentially a lot of wasted energy.
Efficient cyclists slightly unweight the pedal on the recovery side, or backside, of the stroke. Inefficient riders let the foot and leg on the recovery side rest on the pedal causing the other leg, the one driving the pedal down, to work harder to lift the dead weight of the recovery leg. Again, this wastes a lot of energy.
Note that we’ve not said anything about the front side of the pedal stroke. This side is easy to get right. Pushing the pedal down does not require much in the way of skill. The problem is that inefficient riders focus only on the down stroke. They “stomp” the pedals typically with a lot of excess, side-to-side, upper body movement. This also wastes a tremendous amount of energy.
Let’s get rid of the energy wasters in this Base period. Drills will help you to pedal better. Following are the common ones we do with all our athletes. *They may be mixed together in a single workout or each may be done by itself as a workout.