I recently started using power cranks. Power Cranks are simply bicycle cranks that are independent of one another. When I pedal on power cranks, one leg can not rely on the other to finish the pedal stroke. If you ever have ever pedalled a bike with just one leg, you know how hard it is. Now, imagine pedalling with one leg for your entire ride but with both legs. Voila! You have power cranks. They are simply brutal.
On my very first power cranks ride, I lasted an hour. This was pretty good since I thought I'd only make it thirty minutes. The next ride I rode for two, easy hours. The third ride I could only do fifteen minutes. I could barely walk the following day.
Power cranks make you feel like a duck out of water. For the first time in a long time, I had the fear of falling when I started or stopped. This is simply because the cranks does not come up when you start to roll - it just hangs there, looking for some attention. You have to try to clip in while the other leg stokes the engine. A bizarre sensation.
This unusual sensation has one beneficial side affect. When I roll from a stop sign or light, motorist seem to pause. Too often, the rednecks throw beer cans. The hilarity of a cyclist with an apparently broken pedal causes a certain cease fire from the revving machines of steel. That is nice.
I was also amazed to discover that my pedal strokes were lame. About every eighth stroke, my kick over the top just sort of petered out. Power cranks are unforgiving. If your stroke falters, the bike will sputter. You realize that each stroke is part of the engine and if one of two pistons stops, the machine backfires.
This, of course, is the point. I have heard the experts talk about "pedal efficiency." It is hard to understand that concept with normal cranks because one leg can so easily depend on the down stroke of the other to help it over. With power cranks, one learns immediately what is meant by pedal efficiency.
There is also a balance thing going on. I have not quite figured it out. I will report back but I noticed that the power required to stroke with power cranks sometimes causes my knees to go in a weird direction. Not every stroke but when I am fatigued.
The best thing of all is that power cranks is time efficient. Training is the cold and rainy weather sucks. A two hour ride feels like a three hour ride or more. Makes sense. Candidly, I would much rather suffer like an animal on cranks in the rain for two hours than spend fifteen seconds on the trainer indoors. Just me.
In any event, check out power cranks. Here is the site.