Are you a lead weight.....

....... being dragged along by a bike?

     One of the most magical experiences we should all hope to achieve is that sense of floating on our bike over rough surfaces, especially when pedaling! Think riding cobbles at the Paris Roubaix. This past weekend I had that moment on a long winding cross ride that involved abandoned unused railroad tracks and other chunky terrain.

You might think that railroad tracks, washboard roads and cobbled streets are the worst thing you can imagine spending any amount of time on and you're probably right.

Growing up on a dirt road I remember how over time breaking bumps would form and I discovered that driving over them at different speeds produced unexpected results. At slow speeds it felt like your car was going to be knocked to it's breaking point while at higher speeds it seemed as if the car was floating over some mild rumble strips.

How do you make the bike float over these annoying surfaces that threaten to shake out your fillings? This refers to riding long flat sections where you have to pedal to keep going.

1. Stay loose. Keep your hinges active. Ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists. Sit in your suspension.
2. Stay off the brakes. Use only light skimming to slow down.
3. Look ahead, eyes forward.
4. Keep the front wheel light.*
5. *Let the bars float around in a loose half grip. No tight grips. Allow the upper body to relax.
6. Use a bigger gear. This is not a time to spin 120 cadence. Walk on the pedals. Like taking two steps at a time. Keep your weight in your feet.**
7. **Sit on the seat, but keep the butt ready to float by transferring weight to your pedals.
8. Keep your momentum up and find the rhythm that allows you to float on top and not sink into the square edges.

Here is a great slow motion video of the famous cobbles of Paris Roubaix.
Notice how the arm muscles are loose and flapping. If these guys had a death grip their forearms would be rock solid.
Look at the hands and see if they show signs of being relaxed or are transmitting tension? At 1:12 you can see how relaxed the index fingers of the rider. How many other body clues can you see?

More cool research:


Remember to get out there and get loose!

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