Last July I realized that my racing season, which was almost over, hadn’t gone so well. I had a bunch of DNF’s and 47th’s, which in and of itself was a step up from the year before, but I could tell that my power had dropped.
Since I don’t use a power meter except for my right lung and left lung, I noticed that they would quickly start to burn and hurt relatively early in the race, usually around sign-in. I checked the Internet to find out the best way to increase my power and every road seemed to lead here:
However, after doing a bit more research I learned that in order to properly dope you would have to have a training plan, and what’s worse, you’d have to follow it. For someone who has trouble remembering to put water in his bottle, the thought of all those needles, pills, feeding tubes, home transfusion kits, and cranial catheters was a bit overwhelming.
So I kept cruising the Internet and I found this:
Yep, it struck me that every time I’d ever seen Marco Pantani climbing, he did it on the drops. So on a fateful day in July I tried it out myself, and learned a lot, which I’m going to share with you now.
- First, when you climb in the drops you are effectively yanking up on the bars. This up-yanking engages your arms, even when they are skinny, tweezly little twigs like mine and Marco’s.
- Second, when you are hunched over like that you can’t breathe, which can be problematic since breathing is somewhat important for bicycle riders and people in general who are not dead.
- Third, by hunching over the bars and up yanking, it pretty much tears out all of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs, carbon spacers, and labia in your lower back so that when you get off your bike you can’t walk upright anymore.
- Fourth, you eventually flummox back onto your seat with a weighty thud because it’s impossible to hold yourself in that position for more than about two minutes.
When I got out of bed after that ride a few days later, I realized that this technique had real potential aside from the excruciating pain, breathing obstructions, and inability to hold the pose. If it was good enough for Marco Pantani, a disgraced drug cheat who died alone in a filthy hotel room surrounded by empty syringes, it was certainly good enough for me.
My new Up Yanking Addendum to the Wanky Training Plan (UYAttWTP, pronounced “You a Twip”) had begun. Every time I came to an incline I got out of the saddle in the drops. At first I could only do it for a few minutes, but as my arms got stronger and the labia in my back got clenchier, I could hold the position for longer. By late August I was able to do the entire Latigo climb in the drops — it’s a 41-minute climb that I can cram into an hour or so.
The benefits to up yanking have been huge. By throwing most of my weight over the front wheel, the bike becomes quite unstable and frightens people, which is a plus. More importantly, when you grip tightly on the bars you can really feel the extra power in the downstroke, as well as the rapid exhaustion and collapse of your arms and shoulders from squeezing so hard.
The real benefit to climbing in the drops is that you get to leverage the weight of your entire upper body over the pedal, and when you’re hunched over like Marco you are creating a very low aero profile as opposed to climbing while standing and gripping the hoods. In that position you are standing upright, creating the aero profile of a sail or, if you’re one of the guys I ride with, a hippo.
Anyway, I hope you will integrate up yanking into your training plans. It may turn you too into the next Marco Pantani, minus the hotel room and used syringes.
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