Pulling with both hands

Today I climbed 1,400 vertical from downtown Boulder to home. Pavement then dirt then snow. Finished in a flurry of flakes. Colorado style!

I had time to think about pedaling, and a new idea worked its way into my noggin.

Cranking out watts on the trainer and lugging my carcass up a mountain are two different animals. Especially with road gearing. How am I supposed to spin at my optimal 100 rpm when I can only turn the pedals at 60?

Yeah yeah, I know:

1) Get stronger. Hey, I’m doing my best.

2) Pedal better. I have embraced pedaling as a skill, and I am learning a ton.

Today’s thought:

Say you’re standing up a steep climb in a hard gear. You probably pull with your right arm as you push with your right leg. Your left arm (and leg) probably don’t do much.

What if you pull with both arms as you simultaneously drive your hips forward, push down with your right leg and pull up with your left leg? This is analogous to a gate start, but at lower intensity for way more reps.

Coach Greg Romero (www.bmxtraining.com) snaps a gate pro style. From www.probmxskills.com The book is 99% done. I’m waiting for decent weather to finish photos, and I’m waiting to hear from a BMX distributor before I go to print.

This “new” movement pattern occurred to me as I pulled a big gear up a steep, tacky dirt road. I was pulling really hard, driving my hips forward like in a dead lift, and I noticed my arms and torso were the weak link. The strain brought me to the weight room, then to gate start technique.

So I focused on pulling back with both hands as I drove my hips forward. The coordination was really tricky, but I felt some new power.

Give it a try. What do you think?

Know more. Have more fun!

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5 replies
  1. Marz says:

    It’s something I started doing after watching Hincapie pulling up the Champs Elysee last in the tour. His hand were on the tops of the bar and you could see him pull on the bar with both hands every pedal stroke and a slight rocking motion in his upper body forward and back. I tried this on the road bike and mountain bike and it sort of works. You’re not just pushing down on your pedals against your own mass, but pulling through your hips, gut and arms pedaling with a greater force than your own weight will supply.

    The trick seems to be adding that pull on the bars every pedal stroke and yet still keeping your pedaling smooth.

  2. jezza says:

    i gave it a shot this morning as i kicked off my next 3 week training block doing a 30k xc loop just hammering away. the thing i noticed the most was it worked ok on grippy hardpack, but you couldn’t stand up on the pedals at all or you would start loosing traction when it started to climb. However, it did seemed to work ok when you were just hovering your butt a few mm off the seat, but was hard to get more than a few strokes going in this position.

    i usually only do this move when i’m riding fixed and pulling away from the lights.

    sounds like i should experiment a bit more

  3. Greg says:

    I have been forced into doing this from riding my single
    speed when the trail gets to steep for the gear you pushing. I have to pull back as hard as I can with both
    arms to keep traction and keep climbing or else start
    walking. Rocking the bike at slow speed just causes a loss
    of traction, so my bike trained me to do this.

  4. scott says:

    Used to do something similar for one of my road workouts. The idea was to ride your entire route in only a 75 or a 90 inch gear, alternating every 5 minutes, and staying seated. Great ride for relatively flat terrain, but I had a good climb on one of my routes home. At one point I’d have to work the 90 inch gear (about a 53×15 combo) up a 15% grade (top of Pinehurst for Lee). At a cadence of under 20rpm, you learn real quick how to use every muscle available to keep moving forward.

  5. Dr Shane says:

    Lee, I too have found this technique very effective for steep climbs on my singlespeed – the traction thing is a biggie – I really feel I am smoother through the cranks doing this and have much less tendency to break traction. It is especially helpful when trying to keep the cranks turning up and over a steeper section – anything to keep the pedals turning!

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