I think you're on to something Mike!
My brain can wrap around the physics and logical conclusions of the "myth buster" studies mentioned but my gut tells me something is missing. The namesake of my beloved early 70's classic Italian frame (the reason I'm on this list), Cesar Moretti, Jr., was a 6 day racer. When we rode together up Battle Mountain Pass near Vail, Colorado he always yelled at me, "Heels down you idiot!" and "Spin, spin, spin, you moron!" He was trying to have me find a structure to use my strength, "form" we used to call it, a magical spin spot. Back-in-the-day, this was a major subject. We didn't have TV - we used to actually talk to each other. We were too poor trying to save up to buy silk tires.
No one here has ever felt that sweet surge of power when everything feels centered and energy seems to be easily tapped to spin, spin, spin up a mountain or catch another rider or pack in front of you? Yes, it's basically your legs mashing down on the pedals but I always thought it was enhanced by that mystical, centered, push and pull - being at one with the technique of spinning. Sort of a naval chakra, chi sort of thing - or is it a bunch of bull s>>t? At the end of the day if the @#!* sprinters were able to hold on, sure enough those mashers would come off the front and grab the glory crossing the finish line first after loafing at the back all day. Oh well, maybe their knees are all arthritic now and I can still bounce after my grand daughter....
Spring, Texas, USA
Right on Eddy!
East Coast riders may remember the legendary Joe Tosi. Joe would race on one of his gorgeous silver Cinelli bikes (but well worn, the ultimate tool for racing!) into his early 60's and try to hang with pretty fast cat 2/3 packs filled with people 40 years his junior. If Joe could hang on to the end of a crit, you would see him move from the back of the pack towards the front - his head bobbing up and down at 60 cycles while the rest of his upper body was perfectly still but his legs would be spinning at some other wordly high RPM. He would have an amazing surge that would propel him to the front. Yeah, he didn't beat everyone usually, but he could get by most of the pack.
In training rides, Joe would train riders to spin - spin, and spin some more. He'd split riders into two groups, the slow riders could use whatever gear they wanted, the fast group had to stay on the small chainring (to improve technique even more) - and the goal was for the slower group to catch the faster.
The riders that Joe mentored were often tops in the area. And Joe was at it into his 60's (those knees apparently kept working) until a horrible tragedy struck him down. Where did Joe get his amazing technique? Turned out he rode with some of the legends of 6 day racing in his earlier years. The folks who dominated the world cycling scene back in the day.
I think I'll continue to work on my pedal stroke.
Mike Kone in Boulder CO USA
From: "Edward Albert" <Edward.H.Albert@hofstra.edu>
> It may indeed be true that the pedaling in circles idea is a myth and,
> as Morgan states, you get more watts just pushing down hard. But, I
> would wager that the bike racer who pedals in circles has a longer
> cycling career than the guy who stomps on the pedals and puts those
> incredible forces on their knee tendons. Its not just about power.
> Further, spinning circles in little gears early in a race leaves you
> something left to stomp on those pedals when it counts....a the end.
> Edward Albert (still protecting his patella tendons by spinning
> circles) in Chappaqua, New York, U.S.A
> Edward Albert, Ph.D.
> Prof. Emeritus, Sociology
> Hofstra University
> >>> "Hillery" 05/16/08 5:14 PM >>>
> OK --
> It is a persistent myth that 'perfect circles' or 'technique training'
> ill appreciably improve power, speed, or any other measurement of real
> cy cling efficiency. USAC recently did a fun webinar called
> 'mythbusters', m odeled in part after the Discovery TV show, and one
> they addressed was th e perfect circles bit. The presenter was Steve
> McGregor, PhD of Eastern M ichigan U. and USAC. As Steve said, pros
> pedal in squares, not circles.
> He then presented data to prove it -- specifically invoking Ed Coyle's
> wo rk (see Coyle EF, FeltnerME, KautzSA, Hamilton MT, Montain SJ,
> Baylor AM, Abraham LD, and Petrek GW. Med Sci Sports Exerc 23: 93-107,
> You can google or go to http://www.smartttraining.blogspot.com/ and
> see f igure 1 for a different article that references the same study -
> and it's the chart that tells the story best. Note that the maximum
> torque is dev eloped at 90 deg from TDC - the horizontal part of
> pushing down. The full study looks at professional and ranked
> amateurs. Measurements were also
> done with people consciously trying to pedal in circles. Minuscule
> change in torque accomplishes in 'pulling,' and some potential loss of
> ability by using energy in ways that did little to really help - a net
> ne gative.
> The upshot is that the studies - with real metrics - show that best
> pedal ing is using max power on the normal down stroke. It's muscle
> (fibre type and Lactate Threshold) that govern total power output.
> The best way to improve 'efficiency' is to include shorter intense
> workou t in the mix. Hills, sign-post & town line sprints, and working
> to push y ourself above your current 'max efforts' to raise the
> lactate threshold
> the point (at or slightly below ~90% of max heart rate) where your
> muscl es are generating waste faster than the blood can flush it out
> -- it's no t actually lactic acid, but that's a whole 'nuther story.
> Raising LT allows you to do more work (power over time). Beyond the
> point of smooth pedaling (not stomping, choppy action), striving for
> won't help on that next hill.
> What's wild is that this myth persists -- note that Coyle's work was
> publ ished in 1991 ! -- in spite of consistent additional study that
> & affirms the original testing.
> It's like the apocryphal story (one that may not be true, but should
> be b ecause it makes a good point) about Jaques Anquitil. It's said
> that at th e base of a steep climb, he'd shift his bidon from it's
> holder to his jer sey pocket ... he wanted the bike to be as light as
> possible for the clim b. !
> Bob Hillery
> Retro Randonneur
> USAC level 2 coach, 240221
> Stratham, NH