Some road cyclists ‘get it’; some need some persuading before they ‘get it’; once they’ve ‘got it’ they pedal better and more easily and never go back … their initial problem being …
‘I want/need to be able to touch the ground without getting off my saddle’
The first time I heard this, I was somewhat taken aback. The 2nd time I nodded with my eyebrows not quite as attached to my hairline as previously. The 7th time I decided to write about it.
The pros of begin able to touch the ground without shifting off your saddle are singular – and I’ve just written it.
The cons are multiple, with the following list instantly springing to mind (and if I sat for a longer while, I’d probably come up with more!):
- your ascending knee is going to compress your hip joint
- your ascending knee will attack your breast bone if you dare to go anywhere near your drops
- if you can’t use your drops because of your overly-low saddle height, you’ve wasted your money on a road bike
- your ascending knee will need to go into an overly-flexed position, forcing sheering forces through the joint as soon as the downswing phase of the pedal circle starts; in time, after many repetitions, that’s going to hurt
- unless you’re Slim Jim, your ascending knee will give your belly a bumpy ride
- the compression of your hip joint forces a pelvic rotation backwards, giving your thighs more room, but creating a ‘Pink Panther’ position with your tail between your legs (there’s a whole other article on how saddle choice effects the same negative result here)
- ‘Pink Panther’ ride positions reverse the curve of your lumbar spine, leaving your intervertebral discs vulnerable to prolapse
- ‘Pink Panther’ ride positions disable the ‘force closure’ system that enables the sacra-iliac joint to function correctly; s/i joints that don’t work properly get inflamed and can give symptoms similar to a prolapsed disc
- ‘Pink Panther’ pelvic rotations increase the distance your arms have to cover to reach the handlebars, stressing the posterior oblique slings; if the pelvic rotation hasn’t given you lower back problems, stressing the POS will!
- increasing the reach, flexes the thoracic spine, creating the ‘hunchback’ look (not good) and limiting breathing (not good at all!)
- ‘power to the pedal’ comes from the powerful muscles – front of thigh, back of thigh and buttocks; if your knee remains overly bent throughout the pedal circle, you’re unable to use any of these big muscles to their best effect
In short, and in summary:
you’re making pedalling harder than it needs to be!
Get a bike fit, get your saddle height sorted, get your bike on a turbo and practice at home …
unclip – brake – step down – unclip – brake – step down – unclip – brake -step down
You’ll not go back 😉