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The power in your cycling comes from your lower body. Your upper body should be relaxed with very little movement. If your upper body is not relaxed, you'll feel pain in your shoulders, neck, and wrists.

To prevent this, bend your elbows and keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Maintain a neutral or flat spine, and avoid hunching over. As you lean slightly forward, you should be carrying most of your upper-body weight with your lower back, not resting it all on your arms. If you are locking your elbows as you ride, this is an indication that you may be relying on your hands and arms to take your weight. Consider having your seat adjusted for a more comfortable riding position.

Lean forward from the hips and keep your shoulders square. This helps to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders and also opens up your lungs and sends more oxygen to working muscles.

Position your hands on the hoods of your handlebars, where you can reach your gear levers and your brakes (as shown in Figure 6-1). Maintain a light grip with two fingers on your brakes at all times. Change positions often, especially during long rides (resting your hands on the tops of your handlebars to give your upper body a rest and to relieve the pressure on your hands) or on your drops when you descend a hill or are looking for an aerodynamic advantage.

If you find that your hips are rocking from side to side when you pedal, you may need to adjust your seat height, or you may just be pedaling in a gear that's too low to maintain the proper pedal strokes.

As you reach the bottom of your pedal stroke, your knee should be slightly bent, just shy of straight. If your knee is bent, your seat is too low. Raise your seat to give you full extension on the down stroke of your pedaling for maximum power.

Figure 6-1:

You'll ride most often with your hands on the hoods of your handlebars.

Figure 6-1:

You'll ride most often with your hands on the hoods of your handlebars.

Photo by Ed Pagliarini

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