Loving It, but Single Leg Drill Questions, and Aha moment

So last night I did Tunnabora -1 (is that one, or minus one, by the way?) and was led through the single-leg-drill thing for the first time. Well, I think Monday’s workout might have also been a single-leg-drill thing, but since I had never done it before, the fact that there were no in-workout text descriptions meant that I didn’t do it. The running text is stunningly helpful.
My longer, stronger left leg is unsurprisingly not too bad at these drills, but my right leg is woefully bad. The problem is that I have my pedals set so that when I ride outside (not that I do that much here in Houston) I have some hope of getting my foot out and down before I fall over - because I dismount to the left. But when I do the pedal drills, I yank my foot right off the pedal within about 2 revolutions. Does that mean that my pedal stroke needs to be smoother or that I need to tighten the pedal-cleat thingie?
As far as the Aha Moment is concerned, I have been thoroughly perplexed by the pedaling drills that ask you to think about pushing or pulling or whatever at higher cadence. I am apparently not bright enough to think push-pull; push-pull or kick-scrape; kick-scrape while pedaling quickly. By the time my brain is thinking about the one thing, the other should already have started. So I don’t know what exactly was said - maybe something about imagining horizontal pedaling - but I started thinking about it as being like sitting on the edge of a pool and kicking your feet in the water. Maybe that’s even what the text said… In any case, it suddenly it all worked at bit better.
So, does anyone have any tips for staying in the pedals during the drills?

  • Could be a bit of both, but likely working to clean up your pedal stroke is the better place to focus.

  • There is some debate about drills like this and how much we actually benefit from “pulling up” on the back stroke. Much of the analysis says that a good stroke really doesn’t “lift up” as much as it “get’s light” to minimize negative leverage.

  • The bulk of our power comes on that leading foot downstroke. The best thing we can do is keep that back foot on the other side “out of the way” in the sense that we minimize any “push down” on that foot. All that to say that if you do it right, you shouldn’t be as likely to pull your foot out of the clipped in pedal unless you are getting too aggressive with the “pull/lift”.

  • You could certainly tighten the pedal a bit while you are fine tuning your pedaling form, but you may want to return it to the prior setting for the sake of having it already set if you return outside. Or leave yourself a sticky note to loosen it as another option.

  • “Smooth” is the key in my eyes. A clean stroke is one that makes the transition through all phases with elegance and grace. You want to be so efficient that the change in direction is just a “happening” and not something you are forcing.

  • The text emphasizes these direction changes to get past the “down is all that matters” that many newer riders think when they start. But getting an even and non-jerky change in each phase of the pedal circle should be the main goal.

  • If needed, using a slower than normal cadence is a decent thing to consider. Dial it down a bit with a taller gear, so you can work on the feeling and timing of each motion. Gradually speed that process up as you get familiar with the movement patterns.

  • Don’t jump into fast pedaling or you can quickly overload with the thoughts and make things worse. We want to train and practice proper patterns, not reinforce or create bad ones by chasing speed too soon.


Thank you for all of this! Regarding the snippet that I have quoted, if I recall correctly, the single-leg bit was only at the beginning and the instructions said to go as slowly as necessary. I’ll make sure that I focus on that the next time around.

Who knew there was so much to think about when riding a bike?! :sweat_smile:

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What you said sounds right (about the slower speed mentions in the text). Honestly, I haven’t payed much attention to those specific drills for quite a while. I DID use them a ton in the first two years or so and found them very rewarding.

But like many skills, you can get to a point where these become more “automatic” and there are different things to focus on, which is where I am after 6 or so years on the platform. All that is to just say that I am going from memory and my own takeaways from years ago, and could be foggy on some of it :stuck_out_tongue:

It sounds like you are getting the right idea and just need some more time and maybe drop the cadence a tad more initially.

No kidding. Riding is one thing, doing it well enough to be at a higher level than the initial fumbling we do is where the challenge lies :wink:

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its minus one, which is to imply its easier than Tunnabora. The + / - naming convention in TR usually maps to harder / easier.

I’d tighten the cleat, and while on the trainer practice releasing.

My brain needs a visual, and I find it hard to read about drills and do them. Kick-scrape doesn’t mean anything to my brain!

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As Chad mentioned, probably both. I’d suggest tightening the pedals/cleats gradually as you get comfortable with them. Gradually enough that you (hopefully) don’t experience the time honored tradition of tipping over sideways at a stop light. Reason being, if you can pull your foot out of the pedal during a single leg drill you probably also could outside when you’re climbing something really steep or starting (quickly) from a standstill.

I’d be surprised if anyone could think fast enough to consider all four of those at even quite low rpm’s. I know I can’t and I can pedal fairly smoothly up into the 160’s ish rpms. Pick a portion of the pedal stroke and focus on that.


Ooooooh… I had never considered that one might be able to pedal that fast… :open_mouth: So it made me curious as to how fast people can pedal. Just found a video of someone on rollers doing apparently 250rmp. Uuuuhhhhhhh, ok. :joy: Don’t worry, I won’t be trying that any time soon.
Thanks also for your ideas about my cleats. I will need to work on that. And I think we are going to try riding outside next weekend. Terrifying. But if I want to try to ride in the Hotter than Hell thing in the summer, I guess I will have to learn to uncleat and ride outside at some point before that.

No worries, pedaling that fast is much closer to a party trick (at, I suppose, the right kind of parties) than a useful skill in itself.

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