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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    195

    Bouncing in the saddle

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    How does one stop bouncing in the saddle? I tend to bounce and not "spin" which I'm sure is not very attractive. Or maybe the question is how does one spin without bouncing?? In theory It seems like it should be a fairly easy skill, but I struggle daily with the whole spin thing. My legs are quite strong and I tend to power thru vrs spinning, but I would really like to learn how to spin properly.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    If you're bouncing, you might be trying to spin too easy of a gear. There should be some tension on your pedals, even when you're "spinning." So, the next time you start bouncing, shift into a slightly harder gear and keep shifting until you stop bouncing. If you can't maintain a fast(er) cadence in that gear, it is likely something you'll have to train into.

    And keep in mind that not all of us are spinners. I can maintain a cadence of 90+ rpm, but I often prefer to pedal slightly slower in a slightly harder gear. So, there's no one right cadence for everyone.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Marin County CA
    Posts
    5,958
    Lots of times people bounce or rock in the saddle because the seat is too high. Have you been fit correctly? Just a thought....
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Saint Paul, MN
    Posts
    42
    I believe it will also help if you focus on a smooth, even pedal stroke all the way around. When there's very little resistance on the pedals, I find that it helps me to focus on the "back and forth" part instead of the "up and down" part of the stroke.
    "There are only two ways to live your life: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle" - Albert Einstein

    2012 Cinelli Gazzetta della Strada
    2011 Scott Contessa Speedster 15
    1993 Cannondale H600
    1970s Western Flyer Cruiser

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Practice, practice, practice (assuming your seat isn't too high, which would also make your hips rock from side to side besides bouncing). Ride rollers when the weather's bad. Do downhill intervals - climb the hill, then ride down it in the same gear you climbed in, spinning as fast as you can to barely keep tension on the chain. Visualize your feet pedaling in circles, not squares. Do cadence intervals on the road - ride one minute at 90 rpm, then rest, then one minute at 100 rpm, then one minute at 110, and keep building until you can't maintain the minute without bouncing ... then go back down the ladder again.

    There isn't necessarily one cadence that's the most efficient for everyone, but you ought to be able to spin with good form at any cadence. High RPM work helps build that form, because it unmasks the flaws in your pedal stroke.

    And make sure your crankarms aren't too long for you.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Katy, Texas
    Posts
    1,828
    Assuming the rocking is not from an incorrect saddle height, practice using only one leg at a time when on the trainer- this is the best method I have found for training the brain and muscles to think circles. do a two leg interval and then unclip and do an equal amount of time single legged (hint start with a really simple 1 minute, you'll be surprised how many different muscles speak up especially on the single leg section. Do another two legged session and then unclip the other leg. start with moderate easily resistance and then as your stroke starts to become predictably round, drop the resistance and lengthen the intervals. If the resistance is too low, you will rock.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
    Trek Madone 6.5- "Red"
    Trek Pilot 5.2- " Bebe"


    "easily outrun by a chihuahua."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    195
    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    If you're bouncing, you might be trying to spin too easy of a gear. There should be some tension on your pedals, even when you're "spinning." So, the next time you start bouncing, shift into a slightly harder gear and keep shifting until you stop bouncing. If you can't maintain a fast(er) cadence in that gear, it is likely something you'll have to train into.

    And keep in mind that not all of us are spinners. I can maintain a cadence of 90+ rpm, but I often prefer to pedal slightly slower in a slightly harder gear. So, there's no one right cadence for everyone.
    I took your advise and used a harder gear. Worked out quite well on the smaller hills, but I kinda tanked on larger ones. I don't know if I will ever hit 90+rpm. I seem to like riding at a lower cadence

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    195
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    Practice, practice, practice (assuming your seat isn't too high, which would also make your hips rock from side to side besides bouncing). Ride rollers when the weather's bad. Do downhill intervals - climb the hill, then ride down it in the same gear you climbed in, spinning as fast as you can to barely keep tension on the chain. Visualize your feet pedaling in circles, not squares. Do cadence intervals on the road - ride one minute at 90 rpm, then rest, then one minute at 100 rpm, then one minute at 110, and keep building until you can't maintain the minute without bouncing ... then go back down the ladder again.

    There isn't necessarily one cadence that's the most efficient for everyone, but you ought to be able to spin with good form at any cadence. High RPM work helps build that form, because it unmasks the flaws in your pedal stroke.

    And make sure your crankarms aren't too long for you.

    How do I measure the crankarms?
    I don't think the seat is to high, as the bike was fitted to me when I bought it in June. I think your dead on when you mention practice practice practice. My usual ride is pretty flat, with only 3 smallish hills. I need to find some decent hills to practice on.
    I just got my first road bike this summer, so I still have a huge amount to learn
    Thank you for the great advise

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    195
    Quote Originally Posted by marni View Post
    Assuming the rocking is not from an incorrect saddle height, practice using only one leg at a time when on the trainer- this is the best method I have found for training the brain and muscles to think circles. do a two leg interval and then unclip and do an equal amount of time single legged (hint start with a really simple 1 minute, you'll be surprised how many different muscles speak up especially on the single leg section. Do another two legged session and then unclip the other leg. start with moderate easily resistance and then as your stroke starts to become predictably round, drop the resistance and lengthen the intervals. If the resistance is too low, you will rock.
    I will give it a shot. It sounds like a tough workout!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    371
    Quote Originally Posted by Wasp View Post
    How do I measure the crankarms?
    If you want to know what length they are, just look at the backside - almost all cranks have the length stamped/cast into the back side (aka inner side) somewhere. It'll be a number like 165, 170, 175, etc. This is the distance in mm center to center between the crank spindle and the pedal spindle.

    However, I suspect you're asking how to measure for your correct size. Start by adjusting the saddle height to get good leg extension at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Your knee should remain slightly bent and you shouldn't need to "ankle" (tilt your foot) to reach the pedal. Now position the crank to check the top of the pedal stroke. Check the angle made by your knee. If this angle is too small, you can't make power at the start of the pedal stroke. This means the cranks are too long. If the angle is too large, you're giving up the potential leverage of a longer crank, and you're not using your muscles to their fullest. If you search the web, you'll find some recommended knee angles (for the top of the stroke). However, there's a significant personal preference issue here. You might simply prefer using a particular range of knee motion. And this might even change as your fitness level changes.
    Laura

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    Are we talking about spinning on hills or on the flats? It's perfectly normal for your cadence to slow down when you climb. If I tried to maintain 90 rpms when I climbed, my heart rate would go through the roof.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    195
    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    Are we talking about spinning on hills or on the flats? It's perfectly normal for your cadence to slow down when you climb. If I tried to maintain 90 rpms when I climbed, my heart rate would go through the roof.
    Spinning on flats. The hills I'm just grateful to pedal to the top, I have no idea what the uphill cadence is.
    I think part of my problem is when I'm in the hardest gear on the small chainring I tend to bounce. But the easiest gear on the large chainring, causes knee pain after awhile. It seems like i need a in between gear, and im guessing thats something i need to train into?.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    195
    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    Are we talking about spinning on hills or on the flats? It's perfectly normal for your cadence to slow down when you climb. If I tried to maintain 90 rpms when I climbed, my heart rate would go through the roof.
    Spinning on flats. The hills I'm just grateful to pedal to the top, I have no idea what the uphill cadence is.
    I think part of my problem is when I'm in the hardest gear on the small chainring I tend to bounce. But the easiest gear on the large chainring, causes knee pain after awhile. It seems like i need a in between gear, and im guessing thats something i need to train into?.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    I assume you have a compact crank on your bike. Unfortunately, I think compacts can make it hard to find the perfect gear on the flats because there are bigger jumps in the gears. Do you happen to know the specs for your cassette? Or just tell me what bike model and year you have. I might be able to look it up.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    Quote Originally Posted by Wasp View Post
    I think part of my problem is when I'm in the hardest gear on the small chainring I tend to bounce. But the easiest gear on the large chainring, causes knee pain after awhile. It seems like i need a in between gear, and im guessing thats something i need to train into?.
    After rereading this and looking at Sheldon Brown's gear calculator, I'm wondering if you're confused as to the difference between front and rear gearing. If your gearing is similar to mine, your big ring/big cog combination should be easier, not harder, than your little ring/litte cog combination. So, it doesn't make sense to me why you would be bouncing in your hardest little ring gear combination but experiencing knee pain with your easiest big ring gear combination.

    Remember that the bigger the rear cog, the easier the gear. It's just the opposite in the front in that the bigger the chainring, the harder the gear.

    Little chaingring + littlest cog = your biggest gear when you're using your little chainring.
    Little chainring + biggest cog = your smallest gear of any front/rear combination.
    Big chainring + littlest cog = your hardest gear of any front/rear combination.
    Big chainring + biggest cog = your easiest gear when you're using the big chainring.

    And if I'm way off track, I apologize. It's just that it's not uncommon for relatively new riders to think that the bigger the cog, the harder the gear.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

 

 

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