Just to be clear I do not have long legs, far from it, it’s a term the Mechanic uses when he’s talking about cycling technique.
A friend of mine once said to me that she was reluctant to take up cycling incase she developed ‘police-lady’ calves. A very good point I thought, whilst later that day I was stood with my back to the bedroom mirror, craning my neck over my shoulder to study the shape of my legs in the reflection.
On a few occasions when cycling with the Mechanic, he has caught me grinding away up a hill, and he has murmured the name Anna Mears to me, suggesting I will get legs like her if I don’t change up to an easier gear. (Anna Mears is an Australian track cyclist, who has unfeasibly massive thighs).
So fearing for the future of my legs has encouraged me to think about my cycling technique. Pedalling and cadence are obviously directly linked to the choice of gears. I’ve had to learn to use the full range of my gears, if I don’t want my legs to do all the work. It sounds so simple, but it takes practice to cycle efficiently, I have found that I need to make a conscious effort to ride at a constant tempo, and to pedal smoothly. I also know it’s key if I’m to do endurance cycling.
I’ve learnt a lot from observing other cyclists, when I’ve had the opportunity to cycle within an experienced group. Some riders make it look effortless, and I believe it’s all about keeping a steady rhythm, reading the road ahead, and working through the gears appropriately, so that their pace does not dramatically change with the varying terrain. This is the rider whose wheel I like to sit on, and learn from.
The first step for me was ’clippy-in’ shoes, although I was initially nervous about proper cycling shoes, I got used to them very quickly. Clipped-in to pedals allows you to pull as well as push, which to begin with takes some thinking about. Mr M uses ‘long-legs’ as his mantra to remind himself to use the full length of his legs in a fluid motion, a mantra I’ve embraced.