1) April means cycling season is in full swing. The spring classics dominate the calendar and May brings us the Amgen Tour of California and the Giro D’italia. It doesn’t get better than that. And don’t forget the women’s tour. If you don’t know Marianne Vos, you should.

2) After our two hour class on Saturday and FTP testing the week before, we’re ready to start anew. The next two months will bring a focus on cadence and breathing.

3) A new focus means a new style of playlist. I had a couple of riders comment on the music last week. I’m appreciative when y’all recognize the shift. This week’s playlist is a three song circuit: interval, sprint, build. The goal is to ask our legs different questions.

4) The idea that you can simply pedal faster because you believe in yourself is nice, but not practical. When you pedal faster, you need more oxygen to supply to your muscles. When you need more oxygen, you heart beats faster to accommodate the increased need. Depending on your level of fitness, you may sustain this elevated performance level. The untrained athlete soon loses their breath and must recover.
5) Our goal is to pedal efficiently. To recruit muscle while pedaling, thus allowing your heart rate to remain at a sustainable level. The idea of using muscle (mass) to generate force is essentially what happens when indoor cyclist’s come out of the saddle. Creating force in the saddle is what cyclists do. As the saying goes, “Eat before you’re hungry. Drink before you’re thirsty. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lay down.” Conserve energy as you generate effort. The image below shows the muscular make-up of your pedal stroke.

Don’t just pedal faster, pedal stronger. Image Credit:  Coach Rob Muller

Don’t just pedal faster, pedal stronger. Image Credit: Coach Rob Muller

6) Preferred cadence has gained steam in the last few years. When pedaling in what I call ‘your happy place’, you can spin the crank faster while reducing the ask from your muscles. Doing so allows for longer efforts without nearing exhaustion.  Recent studies suggest cycling cadence is a tradeoff, “The cadence that optimises performance under a variety of conditions experienced by cyclists is likely to be dictated by the trade-off between cycling economy, power output and the development of fatigue. “

Direction and magnitude of pedal stroke. [International Sport Med Journal)

Direction and magnitude of pedal stroke.[International Sport Med Journal)

7) When indoor cycling first started, cadence was the unifying variable. If you can pedal at the same rate as the rest of the class, you were doing the right well. Only issue, it left out resistance. As computer consoles started showing speed and then watts, riders realized pedaling fast didn’t always give the best results. Putting pressure on the pedals, as shown on the image below, is a central part of cycling.

8) Pedaling stronger assumes you can generate power from muscle and not just leg speed. Working with a personal trainer is a great way to hone your body for improved performance. Investing in yourself is never a bad thing!

9. We transition away from our endurance work of the first part of the year and move into shorter, more powerful efforts. Wondering if you’re pedaling hard enough, check out this story I wrote for Echelon.