The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 10: Up yanking

January 27, 2015 § 46 Comments

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:

Cheaper than a set of good wheels!

Cheaper than a set of good wheels!

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:

Up yanking

Up yanking

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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§ 46 Responses to The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 10: Up yanking

  • sibex9591 says:

    It wasn’t until I started going to spin classes a couple of years ago, that I developed the ability to stand out of the saddle for longer and longer periods of time. When I hit the road again, I found that applying that same technique on climbs actually had me climbing better and faster, and I was already a pretty strong climber even if I am a big guy.

    So, there is a lot behind the up-yanking and I would like to second it. I managed a few Strava transparent awards because of it, and if that isn’t enough of a validation of principle, then I don’t know what else could be!

    The other two techniques I brought from spin class were the 4 strokes seated, 4 strokes up alternations, and then the not-quite-seated keep-your-body-still and sit back over the seat power climb.

    Of course it could all just be in my head, and all my friends cry “Byrd! Sit your fuggin ass down and stay there!”

    • fsethd says:

      I owe to up-yanking all that I am. And yes, it’s all in your head, but that’s a lot better than other places I can think of.

      • Serge Issakov says:

        You come up with nuggets even in your comments. “And yes, it’s all in your head, but that’s a lot better than other places I can think of.” That’s a keeper!

  • EA says:

    This may be the best tip you have ever published. When I climb hard I usually stand, rocking my frame side to side, while trying to jerk the brake levers off the bars. I think up yanking sounds like a more powerful and aerodynamic climbing position, although it probably won’t be as comfortable as my jerking off technique.

    • fsethd says:

      I think the transferability of this technique to other hand-grip activities is obvious and beneficial.

  • Brian in VA says:

    As a fuggin horrible climber, I know I’ve got to try this… soon as the snow melts. Oh wait! I can practice it on the trainer, first.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    I believe!

  • DangerStu says:

    Position doping, will our exposure to the depths of your depravity never end?!?

  • Winemaker says:

    Climbing on the drops is the old school sign of tri-dorkiness, of course before that head-banging-against-the-wall-for-nine-or-ten-hours was even thought of as being a “sport” (?). There were always a few who could do it (like Marco) but I remember going on a ride with Van Impe (must have been ’88 because he had retired by then) and over a beer afterwards he said that Bahamontes would never have climbed in the drops, out of the embarrassment of even being seen that way by some ama de casa doing her laundry. I thought that was funny, and if the eagle of Toledo wouldn’t climb in the drops, well, that was good enuf fo me.

  • Greg says:

    I thought this was going to be about a wanking technique.

  • Worldchamp says:

    Labia got clenchier! hahahahaha! I say climb in aerobars if you want to be REALLY fast.

    • fsethd says:

      And of course there’s always climbing from the skids of a helicopter to really give you wings.

  • Crashgybe says:

    If you change the word “plan” to “technique” then you get to call it Up Yanking Addendum to the Wanky Training Technique, (UYAttWTT) or You a Twit. Which is one better than You a Twat. Just saying’

    I was too tired to add the g, ‘coz of NPR.

  • LesB says:

    Since in the drops is a compromise position for breathing, I’d think that training this way might eventually boost one’s aerobic condition.

  • Joe C says:

    So if someone standing in the drops passes you on a climb, have you been “Pantinied”?

  • Wow you hit the nail on the head! If there’s anything I like better than CX stories it’s stories of old racing bikes! I have an old Fuso racing bike that I’m still claiming it’s my best riding bike! ~20 lbs and all early DA. Not bad for a late 80s, 63cm bike.

  • Liz says:

    Is that why all those guys were drafting you? Not because you’re fast but because they are hypnotized by the labia on your back. Pray your jersey doesn’t get camel toe.

    • fsethd says:

      It’s taken me 30 years to get called a doper. It will be another 30 before they call me camel(toe)back.

  • Jah Slim says:

    “…you eventually flummox back onto your seat with a weighty thud”. It is at this point that I stubbornly refuse to admit defeat and so prolong the flagellation by shifting into a bigger gear.

  • dan martin says:

    I’ll take 2 Dianabols, a Clenbuterol, and for my freebe, 1 HGH….and can we make that To Go?…and thanks!

  • Wily says:

    I’ve been looking for most of my adult life but I still can’t find the labia.

  • pablo maida says:

    I started doing this up yanking not too long ago. Also climbing in the drops.

  • 900aero says:

    Combined with pushing harder on the pedals, it really works!

  • “Mongo only pawn…”

    That Mongo?

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