GCN came out with a new video last week entitled “How to Pedal”.
They don’t specifically say so in the video, they reference “back pedaling”, but this new video is completely counter their old video advice of trying to work on a smooth, full circle pedal stroke.
Now, far be it from me to criticize someone for having to walk back what they’ve said once they found out that it really isn’t that big a deal once they get the science sorted out. It is what it is boys. I do have a problem or two with the newer video though. The new notion is that pedaling a bike should be an organic, “let your body find it’s own Zen pedaling stroke” kind of thing. This might not be bad practice if we were all teenagers hopping onto a bike for the first time, but we’re not. In my case I was a runner long before I ever started cycling. One thing we all know about runners is that they tend to mash really hard gears. If I had to guess, this would be because we’re used to the shock of running so we tend to transfer that “feel” to the bike. The problem here is that when you put a runner on a bike they naturally want to work inefficiently on that bike – so letting your body find its happy place in a pedal stroke, at least in the two for two cases I’m intimately familiar with (my wife’s and mine), it makes a lot of sense to make the body learn to spin more and mash less.
I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that I’m a better cyclist for changing how I pedal, for adopting a rounder pedal stroke and an easier gear/higher cadence style of riding.
They go on, in the video, to explain that one should let their body find it’s natural cadence… Well, going by my experience, this is only true for the three or four year cycling vet, not for the true noob. Truthfully, I could rehash everything I wrote in the previous statement because it all applies. My cadence was really slow when I started but now that I know what I’m doing, how to climb hills, how to shift for them, how to cycle them, now that I’ve had time to log a few hundred group rides and see how important an efficient pedal strokes and decent cadence is, yes I can let my body find its happy cadence. I had no such luxury as a noob though. I had to work at it.
The remainder of their five points look great and make a lot of sense. However, I definitely advocate pitching that runner’s cadence and tendency to mash a hard gear when picking up the cycling.