What's Cool In Road Cycling

PezCranking: Readers Respond

As part of our continuing long-term look at PowerCranks, we’ve received lots of great stories from Pez readers about their own experiences. Readers have run the gamut from new users to veterans, so let’s take a look at what their experiences have been…

To the best of our knowledge, none of the letters below come from readers with any financial stakes in PowerCranks or PezCycling News – they’re all just actual readers who use PowerCranks. – ed.

Getting Started with PowerCranks
Climbing is really fun once you get the hang of it. The best way to do it is to start over geared so you can jump out of the saddle without your first leg falling through to the bottom instantly. At first you have to put a little extra weight on the handle bars, because you really have to unweight the recovering leg. It is like jumping from one pedal to the other. It seems pretty violent at first but then it smoothes out. You will notice the extra power as your bike will accelerate right out from under you. There is a high energy cost to this. You may have to increase your gear to stay on top of the pedals and not blow up.

Once you get so that you can climb for a few stroke at a time, try to get your weight off of the bars and back onto your legs. I did a lot of climbing last year and finally was able to climb for almost 2 miles out of the saddle at a shot. When you get it down, find a video clip of Lance or Roberto H. This is exactly what these guys are doing. One little warning about climbing big hills or mountains, getting back down is a real trick. Standing with both feet at the bottom of the stroke makes the bike handle very poorly. Do not freefall any big hills to start, your bike will not turn as well because it is really hard to lean into curves.

One last PC hint. You need to ride the cranks frequently to get the neurological response to become automatic. However, all of this riding puts a lot of stress on muscles that have been going along for the ride for years. They recover slowly and may utilize a lot of energy repairing rather than growing. I am getting a lot more muscle growth this year because I have mastered the neurological issues and am overall riding less due to your MAP training articles.
– from Phil Heubner, who has used PC for a year now, but he was kind enough to give me some advice as I was starting out with them

New User Adaptation
I live in Whistler, BC and have been training exclusively with Powercranks on my cyclocross winter bike on the road since late October with a short break of about 5 weeks when the weather got really nasty in December/early January.

After about 3-4 weeks of intense initial pain, I am now very comfortable with them and able to ride for 2 hours on flats with no breaks. My heart rate sits around the 155-165 range for most of my flat rides which is a full zone or two higher than my coach prescribes on these zone 2 base building months. However, the heartrate is slowly coming down with each ride and I think it will get to zone 2 eventually. Also, when first using the Powercranks my cadence used to be around 75-80 rpm and now it’s back to its normal 90 rpm for these rides.

I’m definitely much stronger at this time of year than I ever have been in the past and I can’t even contemplate anything other than pedaling in full circles anymore. Also, when I go on a group ride, everyone comments on how fluid my stroke looks and how much faster the tempo of my riding is. A normal flat zone 2 ride would be normally around the 28-32 km/hr range and now I’m usually riding 32-35 km/hr.
– from Dean Linnell

New User Part 2
I am a Cat 3 racer and have been riding PowerCranks since November, along with a little fixed gear and a winter weight/gym routine. Last weekend I dusted off the road bike for the first ride of the year without PowerCranks. I went for a hard 85 mile group ride with a number of Cat 1/2 -caliber riders. We really pushed the envelope on the rollers and climbs and for the most part we simply drilled it on the flats. Let me tell you there is no doubt that I am a better cyclist because of the PowerCranks. I don’t have power statistics to back up my claim, but it’s very clear to me that I am a stronger rider now, a much stronger rider.

I did notice that at times I “forgot” to pedal as I would with the PowerCranks. When I “corrected” my pedal stroke (that is, consciously focused on the up-stroke), I noticed a sudden uptick in my speed. On the flats I could raise my speed around 3 mph by focusing on the whole pedal stroke.

I do think it takes more than a month to develop noticeable overall leg strength with PowerCranks. At times this winter I truly suffered on some of the group rides. I recall that on my first “big” ride (all of 2 hrs) I barely made it home before collapsing due to exhaustion. But now I can do 4-5 hours on them on quite hilly terrain. With the first race of the year less than a week away, I am excited to reap the reward of all the hours I spent riding these crazy things.
– from Clark Ritchie

Two Years and Still Loving It
I have been on the cranks for a little under 2 years… It will be 2 years in June of this year… How can you explain to someone the gains that can be made in simple terms. They will make you FASTER AND STRONGER.

I have let several people borrow my training bike in hopes that they will see the light about the cranks. Usually, the response is the same: it hurts but I am afraid it will change my pedaling stroke (true it will); I am in my peak training and they will wear me out (yep you’re right); man how do you ride those things (I ride them because I want to be faster), or the riders in the pace line complain because they look funny (why are you watching my pedals anyway?).

Cyclists are an amazing group. They will take supplements, suck gels, and do anything legal or otherwise to gain “the edge.” Guess what guys, you will increase power by 40% on a 20 k time trial in 6 months or money back. Let me think, to me, what’s 40%? My sprint is in the high 30s consistently. When I do speed work I stay in the high 30s low 40’s. Top speed last year was 45.6 mph, this year I shoot for 50’s and that’s on the flats riding behind a car. By the way I will be 47 years old in August of this year. You have to ride them, and it won’t happen over night but the change will come. Let me put it in a way everyone can understand – I would pay almost any price of them; they are worth every penny, believe it.
– from Kitchell Snow

Wow! 40% increase! Those are some big numbers and we’re pretty sure it goes without saying but actual results may vary, and as far as we know that is not an official PowerCranks claim. – ed.

PezCranking: PowerCranks Baseline

PowerCranks Training Diary #3

PowerCranks Training Diary #2

PowerCranks Training Diary #1

PowerCranks Tech Review

PowerCranks Website

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