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  1. #1
    Pauly
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    Is it better to "soft pedal" or just coast?

    I am one of the few XC racers who doesn't just hammer from start to finish. Sometimes I just need to recover a bit after a long hill.
    It feels easier to just stop pedaling completely to get my breath back after a hard exertion. Please discuss.

  2. #2
    Brant-C.
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    Pedal lightly. Regain composure. Then hammer your arse off. Its a race.

    Although I've been known to coast when nobody's looking.
    I just like riding my mountain bike.

  3. #3
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    Is it better to "soft pedal" or just coast?

    I think it depends. Downhill I'd freewheel to try and recover. On the flat or uphill I'd back off but keep pedalling.

    There are a couple of things you can do in training for this. Doing over-under intervals helps deal with changes of pace and recovering during hard sustained efforts.

    Training for the whole next season...on a trainer?!?!?

    You have to beware of getting into bad habits with coasting too. Group rides are particularly bad for this as they often stop at the top of hills to let everyone catch up. In training whenever you reach the top of a climb make a point of immediately shifting up a few gears and lifting the pace even higher over the top of every climb, rather than easing off. This gets your body used to the idea of not backing off at the top of climbs (bad habit) but also psychologically able to cope with keeping it going.

    When you get to the top of the climb remind yourself "that's the easy bit over, now we must ride hard."

  4. #4
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    Pedal, you are in a race and should want to put up the best time you can. This is where it really helps to pre-ride the course so you know how hard to climb and what the terrain is like after the climb so you can do it without blowing up.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I think I stay looser and more warmed up if I pedal.

    Also, since starting to use more gadgetry when I race, I think that when I think I need to recover, I'm really just selling myself short. This is assuming you're talking about races of two hours and shorter.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlmuncie View Post
    Pedal, you are in a race and should want to put up the best time you can. This is where it really helps to pre-ride the course so you know how hard to climb and what the terrain is like after the climb so you can do it without blowing up.
    Soft pedaling generally you will maintain momentum better than coasting alone. You are racing, so if you can gain any advantage while not putting out a lot of effort that should be better. Plus, spinning your legs easily should help to flush them out and maintain blood flow.

  7. #7
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    Hammer, coast, repeat. But, I ride a SS a lot, so you probably shouldn't listen to anything I say.

  8. #8
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Soft pedal imo

  9. #9
    Interplanetary Poultry
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    It depends......... I prefer to soft pedal if for recovery purposes, but I also like to cycle between muscle groups, switching to calfs and hamstrings when the trail levels out to give the quads a break.
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  10. #10
    XC Hack
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    I hard pedal if I feel fresh and soft pedal otherwise unless it's too rough and technical, then I'll just coast (if a descent).

  11. #11
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    I only get to rest after I've gotten up to speed in the twisties or in technical bits and going faster would cause a crash. Only coast if it's too rough to pedal, or you're on the brakes; pedal whenever possible. I don't think I recover any faster coasting than soft pedaling.
    As for finding areas to recover, I do try very hard to corner in such a way as to maintain speed through the exit and not have to accelerate out of the turn more than I need to. I see a lot of guys enter the corner badly and then have an extra acceleration after the corner. Every turn done badly requires an extra acceleration. Most amateur racers assume they know how to corner but have no real education, -fine with me, I have especially enjoyed passing in the corners in cyclocross this and last season.

  12. #12
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    If I coast I will start to cram, I always petal even if I am applying no force to the petals.

  13. #13
    Bro Mountainbiker
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    I think everyone is missing the point. I believe the question is stagnant vs active recovery.
    We learned in school that active recovery was better for recovery and clearing lactate than stagnant recovery, but sometimes a ninjas just tired and gotta coast. :P
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  14. #14
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    Pedal, like other poeple said it helps to clear the legs.

    Like some other posters said, train for it. As you crest a climb, shift down and try to maintain your effort. Don't back off until you are really moving. I train for this on the road. My normal commute is rolling terrain that follows a bike path for about 15 miles. I typically shoot to be in my SS hr zone, about 80 to 85% of max or what I can reasonably keep up for an hour. I keep my cadence on the slower end, maybe 80 to 85. The goal is to maintain this cadence and HR for the whole ride. It's easy to get your HR up when you go up. To maintain it on the way down, you really have to work.

    After doing this for a few months, you will find it a bit easier to transition from climbing to flat or downhill riding. If you watch a group of guys riding up a hill, the real separation occurs over the top. The strong guys accelerate and the less strong guys slide back.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmack View Post
    Pedal, like other poeple said it helps to clear the legs.

    Like some other posters said, train for it. As you crest a climb, shift down and try to maintain your effort. Don't back off until you are really moving. I train for this on the road. My normal commute is rolling terrain that follows a bike path for about 15 miles. I typically shoot to be in my SS hr zone, about 80 to 85% of max or what I can reasonably keep up for an hour. I keep my cadence on the slower end, maybe 80 to 85. The goal is to maintain this cadence and HR for the whole ride. It's easy to get your HR up when you go up. To maintain it on the way down, you really have to work.

    After doing this for a few months, you will find it a bit easier to transition from climbing to flat or downhill riding. If you watch a group of guys riding up a hill, the real separation occurs over the top. The strong guys accelerate and the less strong guys slide back.
    Thats a great tip. I tend to be the one taking a break right at the top. I will try your method for next time.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    It depends......... I prefer to soft pedal if for recovery purposes, but I also like to cycle between muscle groups, switching to calfs and hamstrings when the trail levels out to give the quads a break.
    Forgive the new guy questions, or asking a question thats been asked before. But how are you "cycling between calfs and hamstrings to give the quads a break"? I heard people talk about this, but when I've asked them about it, they just turned around and walked away
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  17. #17
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    Is it better to "soft pedal" or just coast?

    Quote Originally Posted by H6NVGce View Post
    Forgive the new guy questions, or asking a question thats been asked before. But how are you "cycling between calfs and hamstrings to give the quads a break"? I heard people talk about this, but when I've asked them about it, they just turned around and walked away
    One technique that you can use is to push with alternate legs - do 20 pedal strokes pushing down hard with just the right leg, followed by 20 pedal strokes pushing down hard with just the left leg and so on. The other leg is just pulled round by the crank without doing any work. The idea is that this gives the opposing leg a brief break to help it recover. It's just for a quick rest during an otherwise hard effort. These aren't one legged drills as you keep both feet on the pedals.

    For "cycling between calfs and hamstrings to give the quads a break" you can concentrate on a strong pull up on the pedal stroke. Imagine trying to scrape some mud off the bottom of your shoe by pulling your foot backwards at the bottom of the pedal stroke (6 o'clock) as a way of trying to make the hamstrings do more work.

    Make sure you aren't pushing too big a gear and mashing. Spinning at a higher cadence in a lower gear should help reduce the amount of soreness.

    If your legs are sore and feeling a bit tight then giving them a shake can help too. Have a look at 5:20 in this video of Fabian Cancellara descending where he does this to loosen his legs up a little. It's something that actually works quite well.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxXqQqAc2pA

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  18. #18
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    I think everyone is missing the point. I believe the question is stagnant vs active recovery.
    We learned in school that active recovery was better for recovery and clearing lactate than stagnant recovery, but sometimes a ninjas just tired and gotta coast. :P
    +1
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  20. #20
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead!

    Quote Originally Posted by H6NVGce View Post
    Forgive the new guy questions, or asking a question thats been asked before. But how are you "cycling between calfs and hamstrings to give the quads a break"? I heard people talk about this, but when I've asked them about it, they just turned around and walked away
    Sliding towards the back of your seat will generally shift the effort to the hammy. There is also "ankling", as WR304 describes, which uses the calf flexion as a supplement. Alternatively, moving towards the nose of your saddle will engage the quads.

    I think that's what you're asking

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