The Performance Movement Patterns  have not been described, up to now, much less taught. There is no evidence that the biomechanics folks are looking at these issues. The operating assumption is that the pelvis in fixed on the saddle for the sake of efficiency, and the premise of the “power-based” approach is grounded on the length-tension relationship, neuromuscular control being relegated to track events. Think about that for a moment. There is no room to ask more probing questions when the sport limits itself in this manner. You should be aware that the simplest motion requires a very involved and complicated neuromuscular control. Those assumptions leave no room for relevant research questions. You see tradition all over in the performances of the elite athletes, but go unrecognized, and this sport needs to advance. I have spent over 10 years of work on this, these are fundamental issues, and it proves that the best ideas don’t have to come from research institutions but from innovation that takes place in garages and from real life observations. I have all the evidence and demonstrations for my conclusions. Based on athlete experiences for most, I have no doubt that you have seen, at some level, the performance features that I am highlighting.

Weight Shifting

Very hard to describe the task of weight shifting to the athlete, so you are left with 2 options. The first is to get them on the indoor trainer (not rollers) and demonstrate 2 types of contact with the handlebar, the first is contact almost exclusively with the heel of the hand (fingers extended), perform crisp weight shifting (be safe). Then overlay the grip and demonstrate that you can still weight shift with a grip, but the tasks are separable. This can be done in any position, but first on the trainer. Use video to demonstrate.

Where is the info? I have published a book on the movement patterns and the video collection may give you an inkling of weight shifting. Side to side weight of the trunk is readily apparent, the hand contact appears quite relaxed and at times you will catch the fingers wiggling around on a very steep incline. I can see it, but cannot describe it very well verbally (seeing is believing). As Yogi Berra once said, “You can see a lot just by watching”.

Take a look at all other sports; they coach to the quality of movement which includes torso and pelvis, and details thereof, which cycling has ignored so far. From what I see, the current level of instruction leaves much to be desired, at all levels, and certainly not at the level of quality of other sports. Having said that, there is a good grasp of the physiology yet that is blind to the actual, on the bike movement pattern.

The only conclusion to be had is that well performed movement patterns lead to superior performance. The end result of the movement pattern is efficiency. The focus is on the athleticism of these athletes and the rhythm of athletic movement. This is all demonstrable from the performances at the Tours as well as all the cycling disciplines at the Olympic Games.

The Sidebend Hip Hike

Thanks for your question regarding the Sidebend Hip Hike. Briefly, and verbal descriptions are very hard to do; basically, the movement begins with weight shifting on the L-handlebar, sidebending left and hiking the right hip well timed with mid upstroke and forward sweep. Then reverse in the other direction. This is a reciprocal sequence of movements which can be applied in off saddle or seated climbing, tempo riding and time trials. If you have a chance to watch some of the remaining races this year Vuelta and the World championships what to look for: from an elevated position and from behind or to the side as the athletes climb or time trial. Focus your sights solely on the torso and pelvis. Who to look at: Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin, Taylor Phinney and of course Alberto Contador, to mention a few notables. Certainly, all athletes in these teams deliver sound movement patterns, as you head into the amateur ranks the quality of performance drops off significantly all the way to unstable.

Positioning and Perineal Contact

Comment regarding the review of “Does handlebar level damage the pelvic floor in female cyclists?” Posted on a LinkedIn discussion group 080112.

If you had a look at the Women’s time trial in London 2012, everybody seemed to be at the tip of the saddle. The considerations are clearly aerodynamic; however, each and every one of these athletes performed a distinct and effective movement pattern, ie. the Sidebend Hip Hike for the most part. The perineum is the likely area loaded when at the tip of the saddle. On the road bike, the pelvis will be set further back on the saddle, the trunk and the handlebars elevated. Presumably the ischial tuberosites are now loaded (tolerable at any rate) on the road bike, and most of the training time is spent in that position.

Amateurs are automatically positioned (or self-positioned) in the “aerodynamic” position, imitating elite athletes’ position. It’s quite understandable. The operating assumption is that the legs are all that matters as far as propulsion is concerned. The process is one size fits all, if it works for the elite then it works for the amateur.

Unfortunately, this process fails on two counts. The first is it does not take into account anatomy and flexibility. Meaning that the flexibility of the trunk and pelvis are interconnected, when trunk flexion reaches its limit, then any further forward bend leads to a significant forward tilt of the pelvis. So the pelvis pivots on the saddle, ischial tuberosity contact becomes perineal and perhaps pubic ramus (if I remember correctly). This is likely taking place in the sequence from hands on the hoods to the drops and finally aero pads. The result is numbness, discomfort and pain. In the attempt to relieve symptoms, the pelvis slides to the tip of the saddle, and under the backdrop of numbness the athlete is not likely to want to move the pelvis further.

In all likelihood, these circumstances are less than ideal to learn and improve their movement pattern. Quite simply the amateur athlete is not likely to improve when at the tip of the saddle if their movement pattern was not well developed in the first place.

The fact is that the movement pattern is of primary importance, and that should have been established and monitored throughout the process of positioning; to allow for further improvement in the best possible position (handlebars elevated), build up the physiology and neuro coordination, and finally test the waters with aerodynamic positioning. After all most people do this for the enjoyment and personal goals.

The argument is made regarding the need to be aerodynamic, I do think that should be a secondary consideration, developing the athlete’s movement pattern should come first.