Question: My friend is very strong, but squirrelly. He just can’t hold a good line. He pedals with his toes down, and I believe this may be contributing to his problem. Do you agree? — Bob W.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I can’t think of any physical reason why pedaling on his toes would make him an unstable bike handler.
Some riders naturally pedal with flat feet, others drop their heel slightly at the bottom of the stroke, and some pedal with their toes pointed down all the way around the pedal circle.
One notorious toes-down pedaler was five-time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil. No one ever accused him of being a squirrelly bike handler!
I suspect your friend’s problem is simply poor riding technique, probably due to a tense upper body. You might consider taking him to a grassy field and practicing riding side by side slowly, bumping shoulders and leaning on each other to teach him to relax his arms.
You describe him as strong, so perhaps he lumbers in a big gear that wobbles the bike as he pushes hard on each stroke. If so, have him gear down, spin faster, and concentrate on making circles with his feet.
Two other tips: Be sure he is looking ahead in the paceline rather than at the back of the rider in front. He should keep the pedals turning instead of coasting and pedaling, coasting and pedaling — even if this requires brief periods of soft pedaling when no force is being applied.