When listening to talk of proper pedaling, I often hear the admonition to ‘drop your heels’. Because I’m the kind of guy who takes things quite literally, I imagine a peloton of cyclists rolling along with their toes in the air, and their heels scuffing the pavement.
The advice to ‘drop your heels’ is in keeping with how most of the English world communicates…say it in a way that accomplishes your purposes, even if it isn’t completely accurate.
So what are the purposes to be accomplished?
An efficient pedaling stroke!
Because most of us grew up riding a bike without cleats or toe clips, pedaling became an exercise in pedal mashing, and a good pedal masher often ends the down stroke with the toe pointed toward the pavement.
You overcome this bad habit by…
‘Quit pointing your toes downward, you idiot!’ That’s an honest, direct way of communicating.
But our communication style isn’t one of directness, it’s one of indirectness. This serves us well in being able to get the upper hand over those whose first language isn’t English. Our off-handed way of saying things keeps them off balance, enabling us to take advantage of them, should the need arise.
What advantage would we have over those who take the advice to ‘drop your heels’ literally? Well, how about riding faster than them as they flounder along with their heels lower than their toes. Yes, that’d be good.
So in order to maximize your pedal stroke, quit pointing your toes downward…and ride with your foot parallel to the ground.