What is this “pedaling circles?”

Hey Lee,
I was just wondering if you could help me out with the term pedalling circles? I get the general concept but would like a few exercises to help me learn this technique. Also if it means anything I ride flats and mostly DH.
Brendan F.

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

Hey Brendan,

Pedaling circles, n, the process of applying force all the way around your pedal stroke, as opposed to only pushing down.
From archaic road tradition. Related: “scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe”
Pedal circles, v, the act of pedaling in circles

— — —

Fact is you can’t pedal in circles.

– The muscles that push down overwhelm the muscles that pull up. Even if you have a great pedal stroke, almost all of your useful power crushes the downstroke.

– The best you can do is unweight the upstroke. That way your pushing leg doesn’t waste as much energy lifting your pulling leg.

– This is even more pronounced with flat pedals. Contrary to all the dogma, I don’t tell my riders to scrape poo off their shoes. The real advantage comes at the top of the stroke.

Push across the top

1. As you sweep upward past 10 o’clock, drive your knees up and forward. I like to aim my knees at something in the distance (this also aids running).

2. As you reach noon, drop your heel and push forward across the top of the stroke.

3. When you sprint in DH, shift your hips back so you’re pulling on your bars. Pull your bars and push your pedals in opposition. BRAAAP!

This starts your downstroke sooner, and it eliminates the dead spot at the bottom of your other pedal.

The book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills has photos, tips and drills for every segment of your stroke. This badass mofo diagram is in there. (Yes, I am a badass mofo infographics ninja!)

I thank world and Olympic XC champ Gunn-Rita Dahle for letting me photograph one of her trainer sessions. She is very nice, very strong and a great downhiller too.

Gunn-Rita says BRAAAP!

— Lee

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