Is A Noseless Saddle Right For You?

In the last ten years, we have seen an increasing trend in saddle manufacturers to create a short or no nose saddle.  These saddles originated in Pro Tour TTs as athletes began cutting the nose of saddles off to make their seat fore/aft position meet UCI regulations. It later caught traction in triathlon due to the improved comfort and is now prominent in the road and off-road scenes.

Many cyclists wonder, “Will a noseless saddle work for me?” Here are some changes you might see if you switch to this saddle style.

Aggressive position

In this situation, the wider front of a noseless saddle provides greater support of the ischial rami and helps to alleviate numbness in many circumstances.

Further forward saddle position

Most riders sit further forward on a noseless saddle. This naturally moves the rider forward in relation to the saddle rails and provides an increased forward placement of the rider.

No more irritation from the saddle nose

For some cyclists the longer nose of a traditional saddle has a tendency to get in the way. By switching to a noseless saddle you can reduce chaffing in both the thigh and groin.

Curious about your bike saddle and how it affects the way you ride your bike? Learn more about our bike fitting services where we can dial in your saddle, cleats and cockpit for the ultimate riding experience.

Take A Seat

As the Science of Speed team guides athletes with custom coaching and when we provide professional bike fits, one of the most frequent questions asked is, “Where should I be sitting on the bike saddle?”

The short answer: there is no one right place for a rider to sit on their bike saddle.

Why? To achieve the best performance and comfort, you’ll find that your position on the bike seat changes throughout each and every ride. It’s all about adaptability. Your riding style, your bike’s saddle, and your own body will determine how your posterior meets the seat. Understanding how these affect placement will help you find the sweet spot.

First, consider the way that you ride. For example, when a road cyclist is riding in the hoods, their pelvis will be rotated more anteriorly or more backward. Due to this, they’re going to gravitate to a wider portion of the saddle as they’re on the ischial tuberosity (AKA the sit bones.) However, as the position becomes more aggressive (as the ride becomes more intense,) that same rider will rotate their pelvis more forward. At that point, the saddle pressure goes to a narrower spot in the ischium causing them to shift forward on the saddle.

Second, take a look at your own saddle! Is it designed to match your riding style? Is it a traditional road bike saddle designed for multiple positions, a noseless saddle geared towards a more “aggressive” riding style, or maybe you are riding a more cushioned saddle designed for fitness riding and a more upright posture?

Finally, listen to your body on the ride. Try out different positions. Get to know what feels more sensitive and what positions offer you more longevity. Do those positions that feel the best support your ability to maintain your desired posture? 

If you’re still struggling, it’s probably time for a professional bike fit. Your saddle is just one element of creating the right angles and positioning for a comfortable and efficient ride. If you’re in North Florida, schedule a fit in person. If you’re anywhere in the US or simply desire a fit at home, enjoy a virtual bike fit experience with Bike Fit Box.

Consider A Summer Transition

Across the world, endurance events are being canceled due to the pandemic. It’s causing more than just heartbreak for athletes who were looking forward to their races. It’s causing athletes to step back and reassess their training for the foreseeable future. While it can be disappointing to see event days put on hold, it doesn’t mean all your training was for nothing. In this unique moment in history, there lies an opportunity for athletes to bank the hard work they’ve been putting in.

Science of Speed coaches create periodized training for our athletes. What is periodization? We’ve got an entire article here to break it down for you. Here’s the Spark Notes version: your training should cycle through periods of building, tapering, racing, and transition on an annual, monthly, and weekly basis.

As racing takes a pause, Science of Speed is recommending this to our athletes: consider taking your transition (aka your recovery) block now. For anywhere from ten days to upwards of four weeks, allow your body to rebuild after these months of high intensity. We often think of rest or recovery as “losing” fitness. This is not the case. In fact, burnout is one of the largest reasons we see athletes stop training and racing altogether.  Training is a time commitment and these transition periods will help you to physically recover but they help to mentally rejuvenate you, which is just as important!! 

So, as you review your entire season during this constantly changing and adapting world, consider how you can also change and adapt. Need help periodizing your training? Our coaches are here to help you create a plan for success — event or no event! Contact us now.

SoS Uses Retül Technology for Your Best Fit

Bike fits are one the most popular offerings provided by Science of Speed alongside our custom coaching and other fitness analysis services. For cyclists, we cannot say enough about the importance of a proper bike fit and educate you often on when to seek out a fit.

Science of Speed utilizes Retül to provide our cyclists with the best bike fit possible. Retül recently shared this video about the importance of bike fit and how to not only adjust the bike to the rider, but what the rider can also do to improve their mobility to help with proper positioning on the bike. Watch it now by clicking on the play button below.

Ready for your best ride ever? Book your bike fit with Science of Speed today.

How To Be A Better Hill Climber

Hills are often something that is misconstrued on the bike. Unlike running, where biomechanics and force vectors change, seated cycling biomechanics stay very similar. There are some changes like scooting back in the saddle and utilizing more hamstring and glute muscles, but they are less significant. 

Climbing on the bike comes down to one thing:  Power to weight.  Gravity is pushing our behinds down and we have to constantly overcome that force.  So, there are two ways to climb faster: lose weight and/or increase your power to overcome gravity. 

When we see or hear people saying they are doing hill repeats on the bike to prepare for a climbing race/event like Six Gap, we scratch our heads. Unless they have a 10+ minute climb to do intervals on or are practicing positioning and climbing out of the saddle, they are not testing and building the physiological systems that they are going to need to be at top form.  Climbing for 20-60 minutes is a highly aerobic effort and a 1-3 minute climb is not the trick to attain the goal.  By improving FTP you will go uphill faster. 

During a specialization phase, the one variance that our coaches can add into longer sustained efforts (tempo, threshold, under overs) that helps people when they go to the mountains is lower cadence work.  

Climbing often forces you to have a lower cadence and if athletes are used to spinning at 90-100 RPM, being force to spin 50-70RPM for extended periods of time will blow them up neuromuscularly.  Adding in intermittent portions in a workout at 70rpm will help them to be prepared for that.

Curious how you can build the skills and strength you need for your unique event or goals? Our coaches are ready to help. Learn more about custom coaching!

Drawing By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (See “Book” section below)Bartleby.com: Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 235, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/…

If you ever have a question about training advice, technical specs, or the athlete’s body you see online, your Science of Speed coaches are here to confirm or debunk! Science is the first word in our brand name and we take that very seriously. It’s why our team is comprised of people with the highest level of education, experience, and expertise. We looking forward to hearing from you soon!

MythBusters: Sport Edition

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln

If you didn’t just chuckle out loud, read that first line again. It’s so easy to trust the quotes, articles, and images that are served up to us online, including those about sport! As we scroll through our social media apps and click through our emails, you might see something and think, “Is that for real?” 

You’re not alone! Coach Brady spotted this social media ad last week and it made him say, “Huh?” 

He sat down to fact check this social media ad. Here’s his feedback:

“In the image and the description, the company states that pressure is put on the ‘pubis bone’ due to the necessary rotation of the pelvis for an aero/triathlon position. 

It is true that we do have to rotate our pelvis forward in the aero position. It is also true that certain saddles and a bike fit that includes that saddle can help you avoid discomfort.

What’s misleading here is the idea that your rotation would be extreme enough that your weight and pressure is supported by the pubic symphysis (pubic bone.) That would result in a contact point in front of your genitals. This would not only be uncomfortable but very awkward from a positional standpoint. Ouch! 

The change that actually occurs when we move to this position is from our ischial tuberosity on to the inferior rami of the ischium.”


 

Drawing By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (See “Book” section below)Bartleby.com: Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 235, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/…

If you ever have a question about training advice, technical specs, or the athlete’s body you see online, your Science of Speed coaches are here to confirm or debunk! Science is the first word in our brand name and we take that very seriously. It’s why our team is comprised of people with the highest level of education, experience, and expertise. We looking forward to hearing from you soon!

5 Reasons You Need A Bicycle Fit

Schedule a Static Bike Fit

Too often, we hear stories of athletes who have been dealing with debilitating pain, recurring injuries, or other symptoms that sound more like they are riding a medieval torture device than a bicycle.

Our goal at Science of Speed (and Bike Fit Box) is to provide athletes with the training, fits, and testing they need to enjoy a lifetime of cycling.  Here are five signs that it’s time to see how a bike fit can be beneficial to your cycling longevity:

Joint Pain

Cycling is a minimal weight-bearing form of exercise and any joint pain should be immediately assessed. If you’re feeling discomfort in your joints during and after your ride, it’s time to schedule a fit.

Saddle Pain

Saddle sores, excessive soft tissue pressure, and numbness are all factors that are indicative of an improper fitting.  These symptoms quite often immediately lead to the assumption that the incorrect saddle has been picked. This however is not always correct and saddle comfort can be improved by bicycle fit!

Numbness 

When you hear the two words “cycling” and “numbness” in the same sentence, what comes to mind? More than likely, you thought of groin numbness.  That can be a terrible sensation, and it is a concerning one. Numbness can arise is the hands and feet as well. No matter where you may experience numbness, it is indicative of nerve trauma and should be resolved as quickly as possible. A bike fit can help you avoid irreparable damage.

Tendonitis

Cycling is a repetitive sport that occurs predominantly in one plane of motion.  At 90 RPM, you are asking your body to repeat the same motion 5,400 times in an hour of cycling.  That repetitive movement is asking a lot of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If your bicycle fit is not correct, you are placing the tendons, which connect your muscles to your bones and provide the needed leverage to pedal, under greater strain than necessary.

Cycling Economy

The body is a series of levers and hinges. In order to make them function effectively and efficiently, each of those hinges needs to perform in optimal ranges.  A fit is the optimization of these movements to improve your efficiency. It is an amazing sensation when your bike fit is perfected. You can’t beat the feel of the wind in your face and the smoothness in your pedal stroke as you glide with less effort!

Ready to schedule your bike fit? If you’re in the North Florida area and desire an in-person professional fitting, visit this page to book your appointment now. If you desire an at-home fitting anywhere in the US, try Bike Fit Box!

A Different Spin on Fast Pedal Drills

The early season, for many athletes, is a time to build aerobic capacity, improve inefficiencies or fine tune form.  One, very common method of improvement that cyclists and triathletes use is fast pedal drills. I am certain the vast majority of you reading right now are, not only familiar with these drills, but have more than likely done them yourself.

Fast-Pedal-Drills.png#asset:435

Fast pedals often consist of very high cadence, 120+rpm pedaling, for 30-120 seconds.  In these drills it is usually recommended that athletes pedal up to a cadence where they begin to bounce in the saddle and then slightly lower pedaling cadence down until bouncing stops.

“Why do this?” you may ask. The most common goal is to help athletes increase average cadence and smooth out the biomechanics of the pedal stroke.

Getting nerdy:

Ultimately the factor in improving pedaling biomechanics is to improve neuromuscular efficiency.  This increase in efficiency is caused by an improved synchronization of motor unit firing (think muscles working in unison) and an improved ability to recruit motor units (think force production).  In the end this leads to more efficient muscular contractions and more forceful contractions when needed.  

With this goal in mind, I believe that it may be time you rethink your fast pedal approach.  Instead of what you have done previously I recommend you try high cadence pedaling intervals.  Where cadence is a factor as well as load. These intervals would be as follows:

5×6 minutes @ 88-90% of FTP

10RPM above your “comfortable” cadence

To properly train the body we are looking at not only the neuromuscular level but the entire system must be working in unison.  My concern for many is that as cadence increases to the extremes biomechanics deteriorates and therefore muscle recruitment is not optimal.. If we go back to the old Vince Lombardi quote that “Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect” then fast pedals may be going about it all wrong. 

Intervals with Others – Don’t Impact the Efficacy of your Intervals

Cycling is a sport that is founded on camaraderie and social atmosphere. It usually begins with a friend or family member, who has a passion for the sport, decides to share the joy that riding a bike can bring and it quickly grows to a larger passion for many.  Quickly filled with group rides, cycling events and coffee/donut rides. 

For some, this passion turns into a desire to push physiological limits and once believed physical peaks. If you fall into this category we suggest you assess your rides and determine if all of your rides end up as group rides or if you have one or two weekly structured rides.  

Several weeks ago a group of athletes set out to perform intervals together.  What came from this workout proved to be a great example of how training with others can be of detriment to your ride.  The workout was quite simple, it was four threshold intervals, each eight minutes in length with four minutes of active rest between intervals (ignore that 4th interval, the cold temps increased desire for coffee).  During these intervals two of the athletes stayed together, averaging a faster pace where the 3rd rider rode the intervals solo. Rider’s 1 and 2 covered, on average, more ground than rider one and both felt that perceived exertion was an 8/10 intensity.  Where as our 3rd rider rode slower but also stated his perceived effort was the same 8/10. The ride results in the following power profiles:

Cycling-Intervals-with-others.png#asset:420

One detail to keep in mind is that, although weights vary between these riders by approximately 10lbs from the heaviest to the lightest, their power at threshold is the same which means that interval ranges are also the same.

From the data you can see that rider 1 & 2 both had a more stochastic power profile for their intervals whereas rider 3 had a more plateaued effort throughout each interval.  Rider 3 also had significantly higher average powers that fell within the goal range. Riders 1 & 2, on the other hand, spent less than 60% of their intervals in their power ranges and averages fall well below the prescribed goal.

This may not seem like that much of an issue, but if you are working with 3-8 hours a week to train and your workouts look like this you are not only focusing on a completely different effort and potentially different energy system, you are decreasing your potential results because the overload/stress that has been created is less than desired.

Buck the trend and be the lone wolf if you have intervals scheduled.  You can either take your turn on the front, or drift off the back to get the work done that you need to accomplish, but don’t do like riders 1 & 2 did in this circumstance and negatively impact the goal in mind.

Group Riding 301

When executed perfectly a paceline is not only a thing of beauty but a system of efficiency.  Creating added speed when compared to any single rider and potentially less energy exertion. In group riding 101 and 201 we covered many of the key elements that make up the basic paceline and allow it to be fast and efficient.

In this article we are going to take it up another level in complexity as well as touch on one key adjustment made to the rotating paceline in a race situation.

The Kick Back

First thing is first. So, let’s touch on a key area that sounds so simple but can, and does, lead to many close calls and accidents in the group.  Standing up! Yep, the simple act of getting out of the saddle, if improperly executed, in close quarters can lead to a pile of mangled bikes and bodies.  When you stand up your body accelerates forward and the bicycle moves back up to a foot. Alone this is not a problem, but with another cyclists one to two inches off of your back wheel it is another story.  Overcoming this is simple though. To help reduce the amount of kick back you have simply shift 1-2 gears hard and as you stand you will press down on the pedal. This will help to accelerate the bicycle forward with your effort.  “What else?” you ask. That is it. If you execute this properly, your bicycle will barely go backwards and may even accelerate a bit. If you watch the pro peloton you will occasionally catch another action to make the rider behind you aware.  It is a double elbow flick. Flick both elbows at the same time, give it a few pedal strokes and then stand. That alerts the rider behind you that you are standing and gives them a moment to give you a bit of space.  

The Echelon

CYCLING-ECHELON.png#asset:407

An echelon is a fancy word for an angled rotating paceline.  Echelons are used when there is a cross wind and riders are trying to seek shelter from the wind, and more importantly the added work.  In an echelon the front lane is the “fast lane” and the back row is the “slow lane.” the rider furthest to the front is taking most of the burden in the wind and the riders at the back have the greatest amount of shelter.  This works nearly identical to a rotating paceline but caution must be used due to the high likelihood of wheel overlap. *This is best used in race settings where there is vehicle support and protection from traffic because it can take the entire width of the road.

Double Pacelines

ROTATING-PACELINE.png#asset:409

These pacelines are great on more social rides where traffic is light to non existent.  The double paceline allows riders to be 2 abreast and talk to one another, but still provide draft for riders behind them.  Once a rider is done “pulling” on the front of the group they peel off to the outside of their lane and drift back. Pulls on the front are typically longer 3-10 minutes and near tempo effort.  Personally we like this best on long training rides, however it is important to be aware of your surroundings and attentive to traffic. When rotating to the back you not make the group four riders wide and on busy roads this is not a good option.

All of these approaches in group rides have their own place and their own purpose.  The biggest thing to remember is that the safety of the group is priority number one and that communication is the best way to keep you and your group safe.  If something unsafe is occuring, do not be afraid to bring this up to the individual or the group and try to resolve the issue.