I ride on the drops a lot when I’m at the cottage.
At first, I thought it was because I am battling headwinds all the time, and it is certainly a more aerodynamic position. But on todays ride, I was on the drops mostly, even when there was no hurting wind.
I began thinking about this.
It’s true. Riding on the drops is more aerodynamic. It is also the most powerful position you can be in on a bike. It is an athletic position. Think of a baseball shortstop getting ready for a ball hit his way. He is leaning forward, knees bent, and arms at his side. He is ready to move quickly, and powerfully to his left, right, forward, or up. Think of an NHL hockey player racing to for a pass along the boards. He too is bent forward, his knees are bent as he pushes hard with one leg, then the other, with his arms at his side. And, think of a sprinter in the blocks ready to start his race. Again, he is bent at the waist, knees bent, and arms at his side ready to propel himself quickly, and powerfully forward.
This is the athletic position.
And, this is the position the cyclist is in when riding on the drops. Imagine if you can, freezing a cyclist on his bike while positioned on the drops, and you could put him at shortstop ready for the next ball, a professional hockey player racing for a breakaway pass, or a track star ready in the blocks.
So, why am I positioned on the drops most of the time while cycling here and not at home?
I think there are several reasons. First, at home on the west coast, I am climbing a lot more. There are no flat rides where I live. Instead on being on the drops, I’m frequently on the bar flats climbing a 6-8% grade. So when it flattens out a little, I’m happy to relax on the hoods for awhile before approaching the next hill. Second, when I’m at the cottage, I have more wind to contend with. Sure it gets windy on the west coast but there is an incessant north westerly in these parts, and the bast way to combat them is to get into the most aerodynamic position you can. Lastly, and I had overlooked this initially, I’m in training mode here at Camp PedalWORKS. The weather is favourable here, the roads are quiet, nicely surfaced, and scenic. I’m here by myself mostly, and I’m usually preparing for a cycling event in the fall, at the end of the cycling season.
I notice too that I travel faster when on the drops. At first, I thought is was because it is a more aerodynamic position. And it is. But I also realized that I can maintain a faster cadence more easily when on the drops. I have more power. It is the power position.
When I first arrived at the cottage, I wasn’t comfortable on the drops for long periods of time, even though I have cycled for years. I simply wasn’t used to it. I could only hold the position for 10-15 minutes at a time. Not now. I was out for 2 1/2 hours this morning, and most of that time I was on the drops. So, don’t despair if you are not comfortable at first. You’ll like it. It’s safer too. You have a lower centre of gravity, and thus better control of the bike with your weight more evenly distributed over the wheels. That’s a good thing for fast descents. And, you have greater leverage when applying the brakes which means you can stop more quickly if need be.
Do you ride on the drops?
I like to get long and low, so yes!
Not much. Being elderly and with a bad back, I go for comfort over speed these days.
Good post. This made me think again. I must say I also share the same thought (should I? vs. shouldn’t I?) while riding a drop. And for me this thought occurs on the only drop I face while riding to work. Yes, I do pedal the drop in order to gain more momentum. Because for me after this drop what follows is a long wide stretch of flat tarmac. So I can prevent the slowing down if I pedal the drop. 🙂
I think what you are referring to is pedalling while descending. I’m referring to pedalling on the handlebar drops rather than on the top of them getting you into a more aero position. But either strategy helps to make you go faster.