Note to my younger self (Pedalling)


Pedal in circles.

I know what you are thinking. You think you already pedal in circles. There is no other way. The pedals and crank arms revolve around the bottom bracket in a perfect circle. There is no other way.

Well, it is an expression meaning that to pedal without dead spots, not on either side.

“No dead spots?”, you ask.


There is constant power on the pedal through each revolution. At the top to the bottom, 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, push down, and forward, primarily with the quads and glutes. At the bottom, pull back and up, primarily with the hamstrings. All of the leg muscles are engaged with each and every revolution.

This is a difficult sensation to describe, but once you have mastered it, you will know it. You will feel more powerful on the bike. You will travel faster, and longer, with less effort.

You will know.

Here are several drills to help master the technique –

  1. One-legged spinning. This develops power in the legs and, if done frequently enough, will balance leg power.
  2. Push down and out with the foot at the beginning of the down stroke at the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock position.
  3. Pull back and up (sometimes likened to scraping mud off the bottom of your boot) at the bottom of the stroke, beginning at the 6 o’clock position. This engages the hamstring muscle so you continue to pull up to the top of the stroke, ending at the 12 o’clock position.

Practice these drills regularly until they become second nature. Practice each separately to become familiar with the feeling, and eventually combine all of the drills with each revolution – push down and out, pull back and up. After practice, you will always pedal this way, particularly when you need more power, like when sprinting and climbing.

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