Pantani finds his power in the drops. Photo: Tom Able-Green/ALLSPORT

In Search of Power

In Search of Power

by / / 119 posts

It’s no secret that I’m prone to riding in the big ring as much as possible, mostly on account of my not being a giant sissy. In accordance with the ISO Non-Sissy Standard, I also never read instruction manuals or ask for directions when lost. I make sure to only rarely ask my VMH to turn up the radio when Adele comes on, usually followed quickly by an ernest explanation of how I thought it was Metallica, and how Rolling in the Deep ripped off the opening to Enter Sandman. The record does show, however, that I occasionally fly into hysterics when surprised by an insect or amphibian – but that’s just good common sense.

Pantani’s in-the-drops climbing style has always impressed me, but he’s only one of the riders who won races going down in the drops looking for more power on the climbs; Jan Ullrich was often climbing in the drops as well as our mate Johan Museeuw – not to mention Richard Virenque and so did Frank Vandenbroucke. Looking at that list, I wonder if the UCI should explore adjusting the test for EPO to examine time spent climbing in the drops.

Riding the route of Liege-Bastogne-Liege with Johan last Keepers Tour, I noticed a pattern in his riding style. Whenever the gradient increased on a climb, instead of changing gear he just moved his hands to the drops and rose out of the saddle to casually push the same gear over the steep. It looked so easy, it was impossible to resist trying it myself. At first, there is a strange sort of sensation, like you’re dipping your nose into the tarmac. But then when you switch to the hoods, you notice an immediate loss of leverage. After practicing it, it becomes second nature.

Someone once told me that the key to going fast is to try to break your handlebars, and that’s just what I’ve been trying to do lately although I hope I’m ultimately unsuccessful. Since gleaning this trick from Johan’s riding style, I’ve been staying in the big ring longer and climbing  out of the saddle in the drops, pulling hard on bars and feeling them flex. Its not always faster than spinning a low gear but it has the benefit of taking the load off your cardiovascular system and putting it on your muscular system – a handy thing if your form is missing something or you’ve got massive guns (which I don’t).

This has brought another notion to light: the lower the hand position, the better able you are to find the leverage you need to turn the pedals. This is one of the principle issues with the sit up and beg epidemic, apart from it looking crap and being less stable. But hand height seems to impact power; I’ve noticed that when I’m climbing on the tops, I can breath easily and I’m able to maintain a speed well, but acceleration is difficult. To accelerate or hold a pace up a steep gradient (which is almost the same as accelerating), I’m better served riding on the hoods where my position is a bit lower. But when I really need power, I go looking for it in the drops.

All this brings into question the current trend towards compact bars and flat hand positions between the tops and hoods, with the drops only a bit lower. Compare that to the deep drops ridden in the past, in the style of Eddy Merckx and Roger de Vlaeminck where the hoods were halfway between the tops and the drops. The modern bar shape and hood position seems to reduce the riding positions to as few as possible, while in the past, they were designed to provide as many as possible.

In any case, big sweeping drops look the business and I’m pretty sure they are in complete compliance with the ISO Non-Sissy Standard.

// La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro // Nostalgia // Technique

  1. @frank

    @freddy

    @TommyTubs really blew my mind about the 17deg stems being a cm longer than advertized, but he’s right – I measured mine and the 14cm I’ve got on the Graveur is actually 15cm. Which is why the bike fits.

    It’s not so much that the stems are longer than advertised, just that 3t uses proper ISO specifications, despite their nomenclature. The reach, as measured perpendicular to the steerer, is 14cm, even though the extension (as measured along the stem) is around 15cm. This disparity becomes more pronounced with longer stems and more acute angles — basic Pythagorean theorem. Unfortunately, different manufacturers use different measuring standards. (Traditionally “length” only referred to the part of a quill stem that inserts into the steer tube.)

     

  2. @pistard Do the ISO “angle B” and “extension”  dimensions also apply to veteran riders?

  3. @freddy

    @pistard Do the ISO “angle B” and “extension” dimensions also apply to veteran riders?

    I believe there’s another brand of “V” to help with that…

  4. @pistard

    @freddy

    @pistard Do the ISO “angle B” and “extension” dimensions also apply to veteran riders?

    I believe there’s another brand of “V” to help with that…

    And we’ll just go with the reported angle B and extension. Reported extension doesn’t equal actual reach.

  5. Back to the original topic of the massive power available climbing in the drops.I was actually imagining myself as Pantani and climbing in the drops when this happened :

    Fortunately it was a slow motion crash, I wasn’t hurt bad and I was only half a block from my place. I try to not ride like I want to break my handlebars as much anymore.

  6. just wondering if I can post again, here’s to nothing

  7. well, it worked, I’m back…haven’t been able to post for….like months!

    hi everyone!  the broomwagon has relented

  8. Accelerating from the drops, especially on a climb defintiely provides greater leverage.  Another tip I once received from one who is far more educated than I in all things cycling: when standing up int eh pedals on a climb, click up one more gear and pound it, when you sit back down drop back to the lower gear and maintain a high cadence – repeat.  Eventually, you may find that you are in a relatively higher gear in both circumsstances as the climb progresses.  Worked well in this morning’s commute.

  9. @San Tonio

    Back to the original topic of the massive power available climbing in the drops.I was actually imagining myself as Pantani and climbing in the drops when this happened :

    Fortunately it was a slow motion crash, I wasn’t hurt bad and I was only half a block from my place. I try to not ride like I want to break my handlebars as much anymore.

    Are those aluminum (and undamaged from any previous crash)?  If so, wow!

  10. @unversio

    @Teocalli

    @unversio

    Just imagined track and field sprinters trying to start from a position with their hands on their knees “” not much to leverage fast-twitch muscles. Starting as low as possible (lower center of gravity) allows position and power to get the body up to speed. Fortunately for us (Velominati) a frameset allows this position and power to continue with speed “” floating.

    I think your analogy is flawed. Sprint starting is about falling over without actually falling over so to get maximum “fall over bucks” aligned with maximum “fall over prevention” both being in the direction of travel then you need the centre of mass (CoM) as far advanced from the feet as practical conversant with “gun power”. The practical consideration of this is take a person at age 25 staring from a set of blocks and apply the same CoM to Feet position and the same CoM rise to upright then at age 80 they will fall flat on their face! Anyway in cycling we do not need to project our CoM forwards as we move in the same was as we do running. The other analogy here is why toddlers sit down when they start trying to walk as they have not yet learned that they need to fall forwards before keeping pace with their feet. Power on a bike is completely different but just happens to require us to use legs that we normally use for running/walking.

    [ A Space Odyssey HAL 9000 voice ] “I understand now, Dr. Teocalli. Thank you for telling me the truth.”

    Glad to be of service…………….or not, as the case may be!

  11. @VeloVita

    @San Tonio

    Back to the original topic of the massive power available climbing in the drops.I was actually imagining myself as Pantani and climbing in the drops when this happened :

    Fortunately it was a slow motion crash, I wasn’t hurt bad and I was only half a block from my place. I try to not ride like I want to break my handlebars as much anymore.

    Are those aluminum (and undamaged from any previous crash)? If so, wow!

    One of my recurring nightmares, right there.

  12. @Puffy

    Did it hurt when they removed your sense of humor?

    @frank  since it’s pulled out of someone’s ass, it’s very painful (so I’m told). Getting it back in presents a whole new set of problems.

  13. @geoffrey

    @frank

    @geoffrey

    I think compact bars make sense if you already have a decent position on the hoods, ie not too Sit Up and Beg. As for the “big ring” willy waving, you should be in the gear that gets up the hill in the best way. You might want to stress the cv system by spinning or stress the big muscles by pushing a big gear, or whatever. There is nothing intrinsically virtuous about the big ring. Yes, I know that is heretical, but I am a rule wholist. Gear inches are gear inches.

    I’m so glad someone took the bait. Do both and get good at both. But climbing in the big ring is very good for building leg strength and that pays off on the long run.

    As for gear inches is gear inches, read the literature – this simply is not the correct physically. There are gains and losses in chain tension, friction from bending the links (horizontally and radially, leverage, and a multitude of other factors that play into it. All the math says the gains are negligible at best, but also that if there is an advantage, it is riding big-big versus small-small to get to the same gear length.

    Who said anything about big-big and small-small?

    You said “Gear inches are gear inches.”

    @geoffrey@ChrisO

    Enough with the watts per kilos and stats! This isn’t RBR for fucks sake!

  14. @Ccos

    @Puffy

    Did it hurt when they removed your sense of humor?

    @frank since it’s pulled out of someone’s ass, it’s very painful (so I’m told). Getting it back in presents a whole new set of problems.

    Which could account for having to stand and mash a big ring?

  15. @Teocalli

    @The Grande Fondue

    @freddy

    Also using negative rise stems with compact bars seems to be gaining popularity as riders spend a lot of time on the tops.

    Taylor Phinney’s 15cm, -17 degrees stem on his BMC GF01 for Paris-Roubaix.

    But Andrey Kashechkin is famous for his stem. He had a custom 17cm stem for a long time, but some are reporting 20cm now. Not sure I believe that though.

    Isn’t all this length stuff missing one fundamental point in setup (unless perhaps you are on a track bike). Our setup is our setup given an anatomical position for our given Leg/body/arm length combination suitable for extended periods on a bike. The fundamental reason that pros have long seat tubes and long stems is that they use frames that us average Joes would not be sold as they are too small for them.

    I think it has more to do with the expense of a custom mold and the fact that bike companies make money selling bikes to Average Joes who want tall head tubes so they can still say they slam their stem, which means the Pros have to go to a tiny frame to get the bars low enough. Sagan rides a custom frame with the top tube of a 58cm and the head tube of a 51cm.

    Interestingly I bought a second hand winter bike in the autumn and that was a good frame size for me set up for someone probably 6 inches taller. Riding that with a longer stem that was right for my setup just made the bike unstable as I ended up with my CoM too much over the front wheel. As soon as I shortened the stem the bike became massively more stable. This was most noticeable when standing on the pedals.

    Interesting, I find the opposite with stem length – the longer the stem the more stable (you have to move the bars more to create the same amount of steer as you do with a shorter stem). But I am very flexible and I exercise my core; I use my core to control how much the front wheel is being weighted when seated and especially when cornering – the low bars I ride together with the stem length does tend to get overweighted if I’m not loading things up right.

  16. @pistard

    @frank

    @freddy

    @TommyTubs really blew my mind about the 17deg stems being a cm longer than advertized, but he’s right – I measured mine and the 14cm I’ve got on the Graveur is actually 15cm. Which is why the bike fits.

    It’s not so much that the stems are longer than advertised, just that 3t uses proper ISO specifications, despite their nomenclature. The reach, as measured perpendicular to the steerer, is 14cm, even though the extension (as measured along the stem) is around 15cm. This disparity becomes more pronounced with longer stems and more acute angles “” basic Pythagorean theorem. Unfortunately, different manufacturers use different measuring standards. (Traditionally “length” only referred to the part of a quill stem that inserts into the steer tube.)

    That makes sense – I would have assumed that the measure would be on the 0deg orientation but they did it on the 17 per the standard. Anyway, it works out for me, I like the extra cm!

  17. @Souleur

    well, it worked, I’m back…haven’t been able to post for….like months!

    hi everyone! the broomwagon has relented

    Dude! Wherefuckyoubeen?

  18. @The Grande Fondue

    So I actually tried this climbing on the drops thing. Took 5 seconds off my best time on a steep (11%) 500m climb.

    It’s weird – it uses different muscles to normal standing climbing. Normal standing climbing feels like climbing bouncy stairs. This feels more like pushing a heavy weight up a ramp.

    Both are helpful tools, but for me if I’m trying to giterdun it does feel like being on a stairmaster to go back to the hoods.

  19. @andrew

    @VeloVita

    Are those aluminum (and undamaged from any previous crash)? If so, wow!

    Yeah the were aluminum cinelli altera handlebars and come to find out they have a reputation  for snapping suddenly.

    One of my recurring nightmares, right there.

    I was pretty surprised at the time.

  20. @frank

     

    Interestingly I bought a second hand winter bike in the autumn and that was a good frame size for me set up for someone probably 6 inches taller. Riding that with a longer stem that was right for my setup just made the bike unstable as I ended up with my CoM too much over the front wheel. As soon as I shortened the stem the bike became massively more stable. This was most noticeable when standing on the pedals.

    Interesting, I find the opposite with stem length – the longer the stem the more stable (you have to move the bars more to create the same amount of steer as you do with a shorter stem). But I am very flexible and I exercise my core; I use my core to control how much the front wheel is being weighted when seated and especially when cornering – the low bars I ride together with the stem length does tend to get overweighted if I’m not loading things up right.

    Maybe it’s a proportion thing and being a shortarse otherwise known as somewhat vertically challenged, I hit some limit to be able to accommodate earlier.  However, what I found with a longer stem is that with what is as my natural standing position I felt that the bike was on the verge of folding under me and I would go over the front wheel.  Visually it looked as if there was some relationship whereby if the steering point became closer to the axle of the front wheel some dynamic changed somehow.  So it could also be that with larger frames you can use a longer stem too before reaching that point.  Of course in all probability it is neither and it’s just me!  I was also ONLY taking about the effect when standing and powering not when riding seated

    On the other hand I did doubt what you were saying in the article until I tried it this evening with my brain engaged and found that over a quick “power bump” it is very effective as a method to avoid shifting and produce more effective power vs being on the hoods – which on my vintage rig with downtube shifters is a good method to have in the toolbag – but it is definitely for short bursts.

  21. @freddy

    @ChrisO

    @Puffy

    @frank

    Do both and get good at both. But climbing in the big ring is very good for building leg strength and that pays off on the long run.

    You think there is at least, and I would have agreed with you until I read this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24550843

    That’s very interesting, both for the article and for your charmingly naive idea that science and logic might have any impact on Frank’s pre-conceived and utterly unshakeable beliefs.

    On the article it is certainly against the grain – not just in cycling but many strength-based sports believe that low-rep-high-resistance training builds muscle strength.

    No doubt the experiment was properly done but I wouldn’t be prepared to jettison decades of empirical results on the basis of a single study.

    Having said that it also highlights a disconnect in what Frank and others are talking about – powering up a short sharp climb in the big ring is fairly standard but it isn’t low cadence strength building. 10 or 12 times for 5 minutes each @90% power, and alternating with high RPM in between at similar power – that’s a low cadence workout.

    Low cadence interval training at moderate intensity may not improve overall cycling performance in highly trained veteran cyclists, but I’m pretty sure it improves low cadence performance in general, which, in the big ring, looks fantastic.

    I believe a high cadence and a low gear is most efficient and I love climbing with my hands on top of the handlebar.  If you never shift into the big ring and power up though, you may as well train on an elliptical machine.  I will stick to doing both. For me, low cadence climbing out of the saddle is great for base building.

  22. I rode with a fine bike rider who always said to try and maintain your gear as you climb, when you change to an easier gear your cadence will naturally tend to drop back to where you were, rather than increasing, so you just go slower, and why would anyone want that?

  23. @Teocalli

    @frank

    Interestingly I bought a second hand winter bike in the autumn and that was a good frame size for me set up for someone probably 6 inches taller. Riding that with a longer stem that was right for my setup just made the bike unstable as I ended up with my CoM too much over the front wheel. As soon as I shortened the stem the bike became massively more stable. This was most noticeable when standing on the pedals.

    Interesting, I find the opposite with stem length – the longer the stem the more stable (you have to move the bars more to create the same amount of steer as you do with a shorter stem). But I am very flexible and I exercise my core; I use my core to control how much the front wheel is being weighted when seated and especially when cornering – the low bars I ride together with the stem length does tend to get overweighted if I’m not loading things up right.

    Maybe it’s a proportion thing and being a shortarse otherwise known as somewhat vertically challenged, I hit some limit to be able to accommodate earlier. However, what I found with a longer stem is that with what is as my natural standing position I felt that the bike was on the verge of folding under me and I would go over the front wheel. Visually it looked as if there was some relationship whereby if the steering point became closer to the axle of the front wheel some dynamic changed somehow. So it could also be that with larger frames you can use a longer stem too before reaching that point. Of course in all probability it is neither and it’s just me! I was also ONLY taking about the effect when standing and powering not when riding seated

    On the other hand I did doubt what you were saying in the article until I tried it this evening with my brain engaged and found that over a quick “power bump” it is very effective as a method to avoid shifting and produce more effective power vs being on the hoods – which on my vintage rig with downtube shifters is a good method to have in the toolbag – but it is definitely for short bursts.

    Self observation here: up until six years ago I rode a steel bike with down tube shifters (6 wheel cogset) and shifted not so much, choosing instead to change my cadence and power over small climbs (not in drops but will have a go soon). After “upgrading” to a new bike with a few more shifting choices I transitioned to being a spinner and shift like hell keeping the same cadence more or less, but carry a little more speed (I think ).

    I may go back to being lazy in the shifting arena on climbs and see how things go (in the drops for s and g’s).

  24. @frank

    @pistard

    @frank

    @freddy

    @TommyTubs really blew my mind about the 17deg stems being a cm longer than advertized, but he’s right – I measured mine and the 14cm I’ve got on the Graveur is actually 15cm. Which is why the bike fits.

    It’s not so much that the stems are longer than advertised, just that 3t uses proper ISO specifications, despite their nomenclature. The reach, as measured perpendicular to the steerer, is 14cm, even though the extension (as measured along the stem) is around 15cm. This disparity becomes more pronounced with longer stems and more acute angles “” basic Pythagorean theorem. Unfortunately, different manufacturers use different measuring standards. (Traditionally “length” only referred to the part of a quill stem that inserts into the steer tube.)

    That makes sense – I would have assumed that the measure would be on the 0deg orientation but they did it on the 17 per the standard. Anyway, it works out for me, I like the extra cm!

    Is this just another version of ‘Dangler’s Law’ which states: “The Angle of the Dangle is proportional to the Mass of the Ass while the Meat is constant”?

  25. @The Pressure:

    Holy flashback to the 90s…

  26. @Ccos @frank

    @Puffy

    Did it hurt when they removed your sense of humor?

    @frank since it’s pulled out of someone’s ass, it’s very painful (so I’m told). Getting it back in presents a whole new set of problems.

    Hey, I actually have a great sense of humour only sarcasm,subtlety, and veiled humour is lost on me. Actually, the greater problem is I just suck at conversation….

  27. @Puffy thanks for putting your nose in the wind on this. I can’t remember how many times I have told @frank that a gear inch is a gear inch.  His reaction to that one does not get old.

    @frank with all that talk of marginal gains I am surprised Sky haven’t offers you a gig.

  28. @Nate

    @Puffy thanks for putting your nose in the wind on this. I can’t remember how many times I have told @frank that a gear inch is a gear inch. His reaction to that one does not get old.

    @frank with all that talk of marginal gains I am surprised Sky haven’t offers you a gig.

    Then there’s the Belgian approach to chain rings: small in the winter, then move to big in the spring and summer. Of course, they only eat the crust of the bread, think house plants use up all the oxygen in a room, don’t have sex for a week before a race…

  29. @Daccordi Rider

    Heres me Pantaniing a KOM point in a race. It was a brutal headwind and I’m convinced the fact I can climb in the drops helped me win that one. Plus I look fantastic, please excuse a couple of minor rule transgressions…..

    What throws me with this is that you’re repping 3 different teams between kit, gilet & gloves! Helmet cover is forgivable as that’s being imposed upon you (for the non South Australian readers, that’s how the race organisers show the rider’s grade).

  30. @Teocalli

    @frank

    Interestingly I bought a second hand winter bike in the autumn and that was a good frame size for me set up for someone probably 6 inches taller. Riding that with a longer stem that was right for my setup just made the bike unstable as I ended up with my CoM too much over the front wheel. As soon as I shortened the stem the bike became massively more stable. This was most noticeable when standing on the pedals.

    Interesting, I find the opposite with stem length – the longer the stem the more stable (you have to move the bars more to create the same amount of steer as you do with a shorter stem). But I am very flexible and I exercise my core; I use my core to control how much the front wheel is being weighted when seated and especially when cornering – the low bars I ride together with the stem length does tend to get overweighted if I’m not loading things up right.

    Maybe it’s a proportion thing and being a shortarse otherwise known as somewhat vertically challenged, I hit some limit to be able to accommodate earlier. However, what I found with a longer stem is that with what is as my natural standing position I felt that the bike was on the verge of folding under me and I would go over the front wheel. Visually it looked as if there was some relationship whereby if the steering point became closer to the axle of the front wheel some dynamic changed somehow. So it could also be that with larger frames you can use a longer stem too before reaching that point. Of course in all probability it is neither and it’s just me! I was also ONLY taking about the effect when standing and powering not when riding seated

    A few things; the VMH rides a 51cm R3SL with a 13cm stem – no issues. I think its just a matter of how you are used to the bike feeling – for sure your weight has the ability to get out farther over the wheel which will make a huge difference in handling. If your upper body sits like a lump on your bars, then you’ll have a greater issue than if you are able to unweight it effectively. This is part of the skill we Cyclists refer to as “bike handling skills”.

    And just to point out the obvious – you’d need something like a 50cm stem to get so far out that you’d flip the bike over standing up. Just saying.

    On the other hand I did doubt what you were saying in the article until I tried it this evening with my brain engaged and found that over a quick “power bump” it is very effective as a method to avoid shifting and produce more effective power vs being on the hoods – which on my vintage rig with downtube shifters is a good method to have in the toolbag – but it is definitely for short bursts.

    YOU’RE a toolbag. Seriously though, its totally its just a tool to have. I’m not about to big-ring Haleakala (although I will mount a 42×25 vs the 39×26 for next time.)

  31. @piwakawaka

    I rode with a fine bike rider who always said to try and maintain your gear as you climb, when you change to an easier gear your cadence will naturally tend to drop back to where you were, rather than increasing, so you just go slower, and why would anyone want that?

    Absolutely agree with that theory! You have a natural cadence and your body will always gravitate to it, and what’s more you will find its harder to accelerate again after the steep bit because your speed will have slowed and inertia is a total asshole.

  32. @Buck Rogers Nope a proper race. I hate having stuff in my pocket except food. Plus it really fucks with peoples heads!

  33. @Mikael Liddy Yeh, sorry about that. We were mid brand change for the team and the new gillet had not come in yet. I am now sorted with nicely matching kit, gloves etc. The EMPS stays though!

  34. Hey Frank  …   speaking of Metallica do you agree that Wherever I may Roam was really intended to be about cycling when it was written?  I mean what else could it be about??

    “And the road becomes my bride
    I have stripped of all but pride
    So in her I do confide
    And she keeps me satisfied
    Gives me all I need”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq9PxuAsiR4&list=RDQq9PxuAsiR4

  35. @frank

     This is part of the skill we Cyclists refer to as “bike handling skills”.

    YOU’RE a toolbag. Seriously though, its totally its just a tool to have. I’m not about to big-ring Haleakala (although I will mount a 42×25 vs the 39×26 for next time.)

    Re point 1 – I’m not too shabby as I also still ride the dark side and trash a reasonable percentage of folk 10-20-30-40 years younger than me, uphill, downhill and singletrack.

    Re point 2 – I think we are saying the same thing – on both counts!

  36. @piwakawaka

    I rode with a fine bike rider who always said to try and maintain your gear as you climb,

    Impressive!

  37. @Teocalli he had this habit, which was almost a nervous tick, of touching his rear tyre with his finger, supposedly to clear any pieces of crap stuck there, so I guess that is maintenance!

  38. @piwakawaka

    @Teocalli he had this habit, which was almost a nervous tick, of touching his rear tyre with his finger, supposedly to clear any pieces of crap stuck there, so I guess that is maintenance!

    I had a picture of him unpacking an EPMS on the go and pulling out lube and rags and giving the bike a quick lube and shine to while away the climb………

  39. While still very much a greenhorn, I was using my drops to climb steep grades when out of the saddle.  I was chastised for this, and immediately ceased said climbing position.  I try to do as much climbing from the saddle as possible.  Especially when all those around me are huffing and puffing it, on the hoods and out of the saddle.

    I used to be quite comfortable climbing in the drops, until being badgered into a different position, and use the hoods now.  I think I will begin practicing from the drops some, and try to drop those who once chastised me away from that position.

  40. @Puffy I don’t doubt you for a minute. Lots of us have some variant of Asperger’s to some extent. Keep up the techno posts.

  41. @ frank: besides obligations and travel, recently something blocked me from posting, for last 4-5 mo….??  I just thought it was my work computer that was the issue, but not now

     

    whatever, glad to be back

    will post my souplesse commentary again

  42. @frank

    @piwakawaka

    I rode with a fine bike rider who always said to try and maintain your gear as you climb, when you change to an easier gear your cadence will naturally tend to drop back to where you were, rather than increasing, so you just go slower, and why would anyone want that?

    Absolutely agree with that theory! You have a natural cadence and your body will always gravitate to it, and what’s more you will find its harder to accelerate again after the steep bit because your speed will have slowed and inertia is a total asshole.

    Indeed.  Each time I look for that extra gear I am hoping that Rule #10 really isn’t true.

  43. Might have to admit there’s something to this theory.

    Gave it a shot this morning on my commute. There’s a little section with a few little rollers. Normally I’ll spin up the hills, but I tried it out of the saddle and in the drops this morning. Knocked 13 seconds off my best time over that stretch.

    Now, there may well have been other factors involved, but I’ll take it.

  44. @KW

    Might have to admit there’s something to this theory.

    Gave it a shot this morning on my commute. There’s a little section with a few little rollers. Normally I’ll spin up the hills, but I tried it out of the saddle and in the drops this morning. Knocked 13 seconds off my best time over that stretch.

    Now, there may well have been other factors involved, but I’ll take it.

    Yeah, I tried it in a couple of places in my ride this evening and it’s definitely got something, and even just a few turns helps keep the momentum up over rollers.  But I found out real quick what my pins had in them — or didn’t — if the slope was a little longer.

  45. Tried climbing up and from the drops again the other day – felt good, but pulled a gluteal (that’s bum for you plebs) – no doubt due to my stupid go out & overdo it approach. So I’m thinking (vaguely)

    1. same gear, up an out of the drops for speed on short hills

    2. same gear as long as possible on long hills where I’m just trying to make the top in one piece, sitting or up on the hoods as feels best.

    and of course TRAINING.

    That’s about as scientific as I get.

  46. I just did one of my normal training loops and made an effort to stay in the drops as much as possible. And I soundly crushed all my best times. It was surprising because it didn’t feel like I was riding harder.

    Consider me a believer.

  47. @andrew

    @KW

    Might have to admit there’s something to this theory.

    Gave it a shot this morning on my commute. There’s a little section with a few little rollers. Normally I’ll spin up the hills, but I tried it out of the saddle and in the drops this morning. Knocked 13 seconds off my best time over that stretch.

    Now, there may well have been other factors involved, but I’ll take it.

    Yeah, I tried it in a couple of places in my ride this evening and it’s definitely got something, and even just a few turns helps keep the momentum up over rollers. But I found out real quick what my pins had in them “” or didn’t “” if the slope was a little longer.

    Could be a hidden classification in there of pins vs guns.  Though here I’m trying to catch the midday spring sun at every opportunity to tone up the celery sticks after the winter.

  48. @Teocalli

    @andrew

    @KW

    Might have to admit there’s something to this theory.

    Gave it a shot this morning on my commute. There’s a little section with a few little rollers. Normally I’ll spin up the hills, but I tried it out of the saddle and in the drops this morning. Knocked 13 seconds off my best time over that stretch.

    Now, there may well have been other factors involved, but I’ll take it.

    Yeah, I tried it in a couple of places in my ride this evening and it’s definitely got something, and even just a few turns helps keep the momentum up over rollers. But I found out real quick what my pins had in them “” or didn’t “” if the slope was a little longer.

    Could be a hidden classification in there of pins vs guns. Though here I’m trying to catch the midday spring sun at every opportunity to tone up the celery sticks after the winter.

    I don’t feel I’ve earned the right to ‘guns’ just yet.  I’ve got two cyclo-sportives coming up in May, and I’m signing up for my first races in August (Sparkassen Giro) and October (Münsterland Giro).  The first is 80km, and the second offers 70km, 110km or 140km courses.  I reckon I can sign up for the 140km and not embarrass myself if I Train Properly between now and then.  Maybe by October I’ll have earned my guns.

  49. @Teocalli Oh and we’re just hitting white asparagus season here.  Seems a pretty good description!

  50. This technique is great for rollers and short bursts requiring power.  I’ve been using it on the last few rides and certainly notice the benefits of the added leverage.

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