When I first started checking out Ray’s blog, it was because I was in search of tips. After years of riding a hybrid, I had made the move to a road bike, and found myself with a lot to learn. I’ve now been a “roadie” for several years, but I still remember a few of the lessons I learned along the way.
Time to share…
Feel Your Pedals
Ray gave a nod to this in a previous post, but it’s worth revisiting. For best results, it’s better to “feel” your way into Shimano-style road pedals than to look and aim.
Why? I’m not quite sure. But I know that early on in my experience with road pedals, especially when in traffic or on a group ride, I frequently fumbled with trying to click in properly. Alone it was often no problem, but when the pressure was on I often missed. Then I took a fellow rider’s suggestion to just feel my way in, rather than try to aim and click in, and found much better results.
Try this on your next ride. As you push off, hesitate for a moment to allow the pedal to swing into its natural, up-and-down orientation. Then without looking, swing your toe forward at a downward angle. It should naturally find the front of the pedal, allowing you to then simply push down and click into the locked position.
That’s a technical explanation, but it’s not a technical move. Rather, it’s one that works best when you don’t try, don’t look and aim, and just feel your way through it.
Relax Your Shoulders
Next time you’ve got the sun above and behind, check out your shadow. I was watching mine the other day and it showed me some bad form — namely I was hunching my shoulders.
I’ve noticed a lot of people do it, especially noobs. Riding with our hands on the brake hoods, we often brace our arms to hold ourselves up, rather than relax the shoulders and bend at the elbows. It creates a lot of tension in the neck and upper back, as well as puts a lot of pressure on the hands. I had been dealing with numbness is my hands a lot as of late, as well as having some saddle issues. Forcing myself to relax and drop my shoulders felt weird, but I could tell by my shadow put me into a more proper riding position. For the first time in a long time, I had no numbness in my hands…and that was over the course of a nearly 50-mile ride.
Sure, you’ll likely feel it in a few other places. Your core muscles are engaged more in this position, and you can also feel it in your triceps. But if you really focus on the proper form, it will become second nature after several rides.
Just remember, Frankie said RELAX…not shrug.