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Skill Builder: Right Pedal, Wrong Pedal

Mountain Bike Pedals

Today we’re focusing our tip for the off-road riders (MTB and cyclocross). This one is an easy concept that with a little practice will have you riding faster and more relaxed.

OK, so here’s the question - when you ride off road with your pedals level, which foot do you usually put forward? If you answered either ‘left’ or ‘right’, this tip is for you. Basically, if you’re always needing to rotate your pedals into that comfortable one-foot-forward position it means you need to spend some amount of time and focus to get it there. As you’re flying into technical terrain that time and focus becomes precious. This might mean having to rotate your pedals up to 270 degrees to get in position - or consciously stopping your last pedal stroke a little early to get into position.

Great, so how do we fix this? Easy; We just have to break the habit with some repetition. If you’re a right-foot-forward rider, just force yourself to ride with the left foot forward for a few weeks, and vice-versa. After the first few awkward times, I think you’ll be surprised how quickly the “opposite” position starts to feel comfortable. Make sure you’re learning to clear logs and other obstacles that way, too. After a bunch of rides that way, start letting yourself choose either. What you’ll find is that the terrain and/or timing of your last pedal stroke will dictate which foot stops in front. No longer will you have to get set up for what’s coming.

This may sound like a small improvement, but it’s one of those icing on the cake sort of changes we can all make that will compliment other skills improvements. I rode for the better part of twenty years off-road strictly with my right foot forward. But as I focused on improving my skills and top-end speed, it was definitely holding me back. No matter where you’re at with your riding, it’s always the right time to break this habit. Try it and let me know how you make out.

As always, remember ‘You don’t need to be a pro to ride like one.’

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