One of the areas I’m trying to improve is my pedal stroke. The technique is simple: instead of pushing down with the lead foot, you push the top foot forward and the bottom foot back. When the feet reach the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, pushing with the forward foot (which is headed down) and unweighting the back foot (which is headed up). This creates a circular motion instead of a mashing motion with only one foot at a time.
The advantages are that by using muscles in both legs on nearly all of the stroke, you don’t tire them out as much…spreading the load, so to speak. Another advantage is that you get more power out of each stroke. Still another is that you avoid wasted effort, if the technique is done correctly.
This video describes it fairly well:
My main trouble is that my stroke sometimes “bounces” or unweights a pedal mid-stroke. This results in wasted effort.
I think the key to correcting this is (practice and) being in the correct gear for the terrain. Some of my bicycle companions like to “spin,” or to propel the bike by having it in a light gear where the pedals spin easily. A more experienced rider explained that this engages your aerobic strength (getting your heart rate up by moving your muscles more rapidly) more than your muscular strength (whereas a heavy gear would require more of a push). But I think the choice of gear depends more on your physical capabilities. When in a lighter gear, I tend to “bounce” or lose pressure on the pedal.
For that reason, I try to select a gear where I am giving sufficient pressure on the fore pedal to avoid bounce. Its a delicate balance, and one that I suspect will take lots of practice to perfect. Looking forward to those miles on the road.