Submitted by Adam Redmond, Speed Matrix Calgary
In cycling as in most sports every individual develops a unique style or way of doing things that is natural to the specific person. Even though it's natural to have variation between cyclists there are fundamentals which everyone can base their riding technique off of.
1. Smooth circular pedal stroke vs. "Pedal mashing."
A smooth circular pedal stroke is generally considered more efficient then one where a person concentrates force only to the down stroke. This spinning style of pedalling usually leads to a higher cadence which puts less strain on the joints and muscles.
Over the years there have been many opinions on ankling patterns while cycling. Current trends are to maintain a relatively flat foot throughout the pedal stroke. That's not to say that your ankle shouldn't move at all, but minimizing movement to about 15-30 degree range is a good general guideline.
3. Cornering technique
How you corner can depend if you are riding single file or embedding in the middle of a peleton. Within a peleton you will have to flow around the corner with the people around you, ie. if you start on the wide side of the corner you will have to hold that line through the entire corner so as not to take out other riders. In a single file line you can "sweep" through the corner going from outside to inside taking the most efficient line throughout. It's best to brake and gear down before the corner so you are going the appropriate speed and are able to accelerate out the backside and thus maintainas much speed as possible. Your eyes should be scanning the road ahead of you so you notice any obstacle in your path.
Smooth shifting depends a lot on anticipation ie. looking ahead and reading the road so you can plan your shifts appropriately so as to prevent errors and thus loss of efficiency. Pedal pressure can also have a huge impact on shift smoothness, especially while climbing. As you shift on a hill it helps to give a slight boost to increase momentum pre-shift then ease off pedal pressure while shifting to allow for a smoother shift.
5. Choose a line and follow it.
Whether you're in the middle of a peleton, in traffic, or on a bike path holding a line is an important part of cycling. It allows other cyclists and/or drivers to confidently judge where you're going as you're riding. While riding in a group this is even more important because like a school of fish, cyclists need to flow together to avoid crashing. That task is made easier as everyone holds their line and flows with the pack.