Focus On Cycling Form Too!

The first step in being efficient on your bike is to have a professional bike fit. A good fit may include changes in your saddle height, fore/aft position, stem length, seat angle, stack and reach. All are important for comfort, aerodynamics and producing more force  to your pedals.

Once you know the bike fits you, balancing left- and right-leg strength with proper pedaling mechanics, you’re on your way to becoming more powerful and expending less effort. As with learning any new skill, focusing on various aspects of the pedal stroke is an important part of training. Just like in swimming and running, I recommend doing pedaling drills to help you to learn to efficiently apply force to the pedals.

An efficient cadence is around 85-95rpms. High-cadence pedaling works your cardiovascular system more, but reduces the relative intensity of the leg muscles. The key, then, is pedaling with enough cadence to keep your watts-per-pedal-stroke at a level that your muscles can handle, but at a cadence that will not overload your cardiovascular system. The optimal balance is different for every rider. Each athlete must experiment to find the cadence that works best for him. Your natural cadence can be changed with repetition in training.

Ultimately the choice should be based on what makes you go fast, while still leaving you with sufficient energy and speed for the run that follows. My recommendation for finding your optimal cadence is simple; count your stride rate during a run and match it on the bike. For most athletes this is 85 to 93 strides/ pedal strokes per minute.

There are four phases of the pedal stroke: The downstroke, backstroke, upstroke and over-the-top stroke. Practicing these can improve your movement and efficiency. For the most part, 360 degrees of various pressure points pf force.

  • Downstroke

The downstroke is where the foot and pedal move from 0 to 180 degrees (12 o’clock to 6 o’clock). The motion of the foot should be directed forward and downward during the downstroke.

  • Backstroke

The backstroke overlaps with the end of the downstroke and the beginning of the upstroke. The motion is mostly horizontal, and is made by pulling backward and upward from approximately 120 to 220 degrees (4 to 8 o’clock).Note that as the one foot and pedal are entering the downstroke, the other is entering the over-the-top stroke. I emphasize the backstroke in specific technique workouts.

  • Upstroke

The upstroke emphasizes pulling upward from 270 to 360 degrees, the last 90 degrees of the pedal rotation, from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock. This phase is easiest to focus on while riding out of the saddle on hills or in a high gear with high resistance on a trainer.

  • Over-the-top stroke

The over-the-top stroke precedes the downstroke. pressing forward over the top from about 320 to 20 degrees, or from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock.

As with swimming and running, drills are an important part cycling training, as part of your warm-up, a weekly indoor trainer workout, or during cool-down following your training rides.

As with swimming and running, technique-based cycling drills break down the stroke, allowing you to focus on and improve one piece of this complex movement at a time, helping you to learn to efficiently apply forces to the pedals. The four drills outlined below include pedaling aspect practice, horizontal focus, high-cadence drills and single-leg drills.

Pedaling Aspect Practice was designed to help you to become aware of and improve the different aspects of your pedal stroke and to work on improving how well you apply forces during the specific aspects. When pedaling, fully focus on moving one pedal through each of the following four distinct phases: downstroke, backstroke, upstroke, and over-the-top stroke.

While pedaling, focus on one leg at a time and say to yourself “Down, Back, Up, Over” as you complete each phase. Even though you are focusing on the movement of one leg, be aware that your actions at the opposite phase of your pedal stroke with your other leg, directly impact how well you are pedaling with the leg you are focusing on. For example, focus on a strong thrust of your right knee to your handlebars (upstroke) is aided by a strong downward push of the pedal (downstroke) with your left leg, and vice versa.

  •  Downstroke. This part comes most naturally when riding. Focus on exerting a strong downward push of the pedals
  •  Backstroke. As you feel your foot approaching the bottom of the downstroke, focus on pulling your foot backward parallel to the ground. This is often equated to the sensation of scraping mud off your shoes.
  • Upstroke. Don’t focus on pulling the pedal up. Rather, as soon as your foot approaches the end of the backstroke, focus on rapidly driving your knee towards your handlebars.
  • Over-the-top stroke. Focus simply on feeling the transition point where the momentum from your drive towards the handlebars just begins to cease. At this point, initiate the strong downward push of the pedal in the downstroke.


  • Horizontal Pedaling 

It helps you improve the horizontal component of your pedal stroke, the transitions between the drive and recovery phase. Although your goal for efficient riding is to pedal in smooth, uninterrupted, continuous, circles, this drill helps you become aware of and improve how you apply forces during the more horizontal components of your pedaling. When pedaling, focus on moving your feet and the pedals in a forward and backward motion, the opposite of pedaling in an “up and down” fashion. When you are really doing this drill well, you will feel your feet moving back and forth in the small amount of room your bike shoe allows.

  • High-Cadence Pedaling

It allows you to move at maximal speeds while expending the least amount of energy. From a comfortable cadence, gradually pedal faster until you are just about to start bouncing around on your saddle. Back off, and ride at the highest cadence you can maintain, in 20- to 60-second segments, without bouncing around on your saddle.

  • Single-Leg Pedaling

Pedaling with a single leg allows you to isolate and correct weak spots in your 360-degree pedal stroke for each leg by taking away the assistance the opposite leg provides. Perform this drill on a stationary bike trainer. Remove one leg from the pedal and rest it on a chair placed to the side of your trainer. Pedal with your other leg, focusing on pedaling in smooth, uninterrupted, continuous circles. Work to eliminate “dead spots” in your pedal stroke where you lose circular momentum. Use a moderate rate of pedaling (85-95 RPM)

Whether in the pool, running, or riding, many times we’re tempted to just grind out the hours and miles as we train, but that overlooks the importance of technique – and, if you are training inefficiently, and racing inefficiently, you are costing yourself energy and time, as well as preventing yourself from being comfortable, competing better and having more fun.

For The Lady Cyclists

Brain Pickings has dug up a list of 41 “don’ts” for female bicyclists from an 1895 New York newspaper, and they are downright breathtaking in their amazingness. Here are some of our favorites:

Don’t be a fright.

Don’t faint on the road.

Don’t wear a man’s cap.

Don’t wear tight garters.

Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”

Don’t wear loud hued leggings.

Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”

Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.

Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.

Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.

Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.

Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.

Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.

Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?”

Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.

Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.

Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.

Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.

Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.

Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.

Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.

Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know. DON’T DISCUSS BLOOMERS WITH EVERY MAN YOU KNOW.



Desert Adventures

Hello, GO TRIbal!

I hope everyone is out and about…enjoying running and bicycling (or whatever you may be doing!) outside. The sun is warm and cheery in Montana. Last week was Spring Break for the University of Montana. What an exciting week! I spent my Spring Break in Moab, UT with three amazing friends. We spent the week riding bikes, climbing, running, canyoneering, and camping with the sun on our faces and sand in between our toes. The rock there is music and color to my soul. The landscape is calming, yet intimidating. The shapes never end, and the shadows and rays of light are a constant aesthetic candy stonre. Here are some photos from the trip: Have a great day…because you deserve it! Go play in the sun!

Mountain Biking

Hello Everyone!

How is Xmas preparation going? Well…I am way too ahead, I almost have all my presents and I am extremely proud of myself. I will definitely avoid holiday rush in the next year.:-)

I wanted to share my wonderful mountain bike ride with you which I did yesterday between 3:30pm and 5:00pm in the afternoon. Why the time is so important to mention? Because maybe some of you can also manage once a week to get off from work a little earlier than on the other days which would allow you an escape of 1.5hrs before it gets dark. An escape which we all deserve mums, housewives, girls. What a wonderful moment.

What I highly recommend is to try some new trails different from the ones you usually run this way you can even discover new parts of your favourite forest.

Many people say that winter is for some cross-training, a moment of trying new things in your life. Well for me mountain-biking has always been a part of me but I was rather using my bike to go to friends’ house rather than “real rides”. I can assure you that it is a perfect workout, if you are trying to keep your speed up your heartbeat is gonna be in the sky while you can still admire the wonders of the nature around you.

What could be better than a bike ride in the forest? Well…a bike ride in the forest with friends! Try to persuade your friends who always admire what you do in triathlon to come and do an easy ride with you in the forest. Hearts will open up and unique moments are guaranteed!

Make sure you have your helmet and gloves on in case you fall and even if you go to a forest that you think you know 100% make sure you have a map on you and a headlight in case you get lost and need to ride back to town in the dark.

Be careful and enjoy every moment of your rides!

Trainer Rides With Friends = FUN!

Hello, GO TRIbal!

Winter is officially here! I sat in classes all day today and watched the snow fall. And with the snow came the realization that riding bicycles outside will soon be an impossibility.

Luckily, the Cycleops trainer is ready to go. This morning, my roommate and I got up bright and early to do a trainer ride inside with some of our friends. We had a great time and made breakfast and coffee afterward. One of our friends brought his adorable border collie puppy over, and he is officially the UM cycling team’s mascot (far from a grizzly bear, but he’ll have to do).

This is a red border collie, if anyone was wondering

Sometimes I feel like my trainer rides are boring as hell and not amounting to anything. But then I remember that it’s all about spending time on the bike. Hopefully the puddles of sweat and packages of Clif Shot Blox will pay off when race season comes in the spring!

Here is a great video of Linsey Corbin doing a 3 hour trainer ride:

It’s always inspiring to watch such an amazing athlete.

I hope everyone stays healthy and enjoys the transition from autumn to winter.

Remember to act like a lady. Because ladies are awesome.


Jenna P.

Ode To Vintage Bikes

Hello GO TRIbal!

It is officially autumn in Missoula, Montana. How do I know this? Because I was cold on my bike ride yesterday morning. And I have a sweater on right now.

Cycling practice definitely starts tomorrow…and guess what I left at home in Idaho? MY ROAD BIKE. However, I DO have my vintage Peugeot road bike–yes, the one I ride to school and around town in order to prevent my Trek from being stolen.

This is it:

Just look at the florescent orange handlebar tape. So tasteful. It really accentuates the retro stripes on the frame–which has the color scheme of the floral couches that come from Goodwill and are found in the dens of so many grungy college students. But I digress…

So one of my friends and teammates, Peter, told me that I should slap some pedals on this baby and use it at the first cycling practice of the year. Should make for a funny morning–and maybe me riding alone due to early droppage from the group. But most of the people showing up are new cyclists, so that is comforting in some way. I figure my parents rode bikes like this when they were my age. What makes me so cool and special? I should be able to recreate on this vintage work of art too. It’ll be a challenge to stay with some of my teammates. I’m considering making a music video out of it.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season…it’s often my favorite time of year in terms of running outside…hearing the leaves crunch underneath my feet or bike tires.

Keep on keepin’ on…on whatever bike you ride or decade you decide to live in for the day!


Jenna P.

P.S…here is a hilarious video about performance bikes vs. hipster “fixies” or…cough cough…vintage Peogeots such as the one I will be riding tomorrow at cycling practice.

Here’s the link. Cheers!

Sufferfest And Laughs All In One

There are many reasons I love multi-sport for my reason to play and stay fit.

A Top-of-the-List favorite reason though is the super-fun, crazy, sarcastic and super-sassy people it attracts. Or maybe we turn into that after we’ve been doing it for awhile…

who knows. I don’t care. I just know when I get invites to play, train or race with them, they always sound like this recent invitation for a ride:

Ridiculous Hammerfest Productions presents another Sufferfest in the bEast County.

Feel free to invite Yourself, Friends, and especially Enemies!!! 🙂

We roll out at 8:02am, for a brutal time-trial over the Guatay grade into Pine Valley… ‘cos that’s where the first b…athroom is located. 🙂 Then we casually roll down old Hwy 80 to Kitchen Creek Rd (base at 3,200′) and start climbing… 12.5 miles later we bust through the 6,000’ mark and stop at the Laguna Mountain Lodge for some emergency calorie replacement. Then we cruise North on Sunrise Hwy for some great views of the Anza-Borrego Desert (and if we’re “lucky” some crazy wind gusts — bring you disc wheels!!!) and hit a few more “speed bumps” before turning left on the 79 which takes us around Lake Cuyamaca and back down to Descanso.

All in all, about 62 miles with 5,800′ (over a mile!) of elevation gain.

Note: Kitchen Creek Rd has two gates blocking cars from going thru, hence there’s almost no traffic out there (definitely none between the gates).

Bring a drop of water, and at least half an almond or something to snack on. 🙂 Seriously, if you bonk out there we’ll feed you to the coyotes and put your bike on eBay; there is *no* mercy on a Ridiculous Hammerfest Productions ride!!!

Remember: Every hill is an opportunity to give and receive pain; and this is definitely a case when it’s better to give than to receive! 🙂

Ride STUPID on the climbs, an SAFE on the descents!!!

Insurance provided by 1-888-Yo-Fault
Course support provided by 1-888-U-Spouse
All rights reserved, some wrongs still available.

Now, I’ve been ont his ride before. Alone. And there was NO WAY i had as much fun as I’ll have when i go with these peeps on the ride. (I do recall crying + phone calls to my coach about being lost… but it’s all a fog now.)

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up in your life, a new challenge, or heck, a new group of friends — well, take up multi-sport. With a crew like the one I get to hang out with, it isn’t so much about where you finish, as much as how much fun (and bit of torture) you have along the journey. Extra bonus is you get really strong lungs, legs and a killer ab workout from all the giggles along the way.

A big shout-out of shoog to Peter who always seems to BRING IT! and make it fun in the process.

Onward and upward, always.

Red Hot Date

It is 9:45pm on a Thursday night. The husband is working the night shift, so I have a hot date tonight. Me, Cherry, Craig Alexander and Chris Lieto are on a double date in Kona. We can feel the winds whipping through the Lava Fields as I speak. Ok, actually it is the fan going in my basement. But you know; same diff.

Tonight I dusted off the tri bike – literally. I have been so involved lately in teaching indoor cycling classes and NOT running that Cherry (my tri bike) has been seriously neglected. I’m telling you, there is nothing like your own Adamo saddle between your legs, the hum of the trainer and the squeak of the rear tire! I have gotten so used to mashing it out in spin class that is nice to get a distance and speed reading – as opposed to the imaginary hill and thumping techno music. And you know those handy Aero bars? Yeah, they aren’t just for speed – they make a (somewhat) perfect laptop stand. As I am literally typing as I ride. Sure this isn’t the most intense ride, but my HR is up at about 65% of max and sometimes an enjoyable workout can get you a heck of a lot farther than a suffer fest.

Right now I am watching the pros swim in Kona (God bless DVR!). The announcer just states, “Most of the pros finish the 2.4 miles in just under 40 minutes”. Ok, I have just stepped up my bike workout a bit; we’ve hit 70% of max! My 1.2 mile swim time is close to their 2.4 – yup we’ve now hit 75%. I’ve got some work to do!!

Workouts can get monotonous. I know it, you do too. My treadmill remains off limits – no running yet for me. (Although I am about 2 weeks from my first attempt at a pain free run in over a year!) I’ve been condemned to the elliptical. Yes, you read right – condemned. While there once was a time (pre-running days) that I loved it, I now dread it. You never want to run quite as bad as when you just can’t. And of course I could hit the treadmill for a walk, but some days that just seems like sacrilege. (Nothing against a good walk, just back to that “you never want to run quite as bad as when you just can’t”.)

Ooh time to kick it down a gear. Chrissie and I are “Passing the field one by one”and “Breaking some hearts along the way”.

I’m telling you, if you need a good trainer workout. Turn on a past Ironman Championship. Train with the pros, ride like the wind, race for the podium and “You (too) are an Ironman!”

*A special thanks goes out to Craig Alexander and Chris Lieto for the date night, to Chrissie Wellington for helping me step up my trainer workout a notch and all the other pros and AG’ers for joining me on this ride!*

Green Spin Bikes

Hello GO TRIbal!

It is a beautiful Thursday morning in Missoula…what a great day to be alive! I have school and skate skiing, running, climbing, First Friday Art Walk, and backcountry skiing to look forward to this weekend. I can’t wait!

Lately I’ve been learning about environmental regulation and policy–a field I hope to continue to involve myself with as I study at the University of Montana, fight wildfires for the BLM, and attend law school for environmental law. After taking and teaching many spin classes, I started to wonder why the gym I am employed by hasn’t begun harnessing human calories and turning them into electricity for the gym to use. I started researching the idea. Apprently these gyms (and others) have already begun to pave the way toward creating carbon neutral (or negative!) fitness centers.,8599,2032281,00.html

Essentially, the energy from the spin bikes is transferred into measurable, usable energy. It makes sense…we expend so many calories and so much effort into training–and we might as well utilize it. I hope that I can at least try to get University of Montana to jump on board the fight for greener fitness facilities.

Have a great day, lovelies!