|How the pedalling motion feels|
Before this goes global (not) as the very latest in pedalling science, word of caution, It's purely anecdotal with no science behind it, other than trying to visualise the feeling in my legs and feet whilst aligning that with the pedalling output data from the wattbike display to improve my efficiency.
If you imagine the red oval in your head when your cycling, with the large part of the oval being focussed towards the rear of your crank, that's how it should feel in terms of what your feet are doing. As you come feet move down with the push of the pedal, you should focus on scraping them through the point after 5 'o' clock (if your crank was a clock) as if the bottom bit of the stroke were flat.
By doing this, you are ensuring that the energy within the stroke stays fluid and constant. You are effectively keeping the power applied all the way down, through and up the stroke, rather than relying on just the push downwards of the pedal either side (effectively losing momentum). As you exit the scrape phase you are then using your uplift to move the pedals between around 9 and 2 on the clock when you're back into power through.
You have to concentrate to get it right. I'm still jumping on the wattbike and warming up and not really thinking about pedal stroke it, when I look at the data chart there is total power fade in the scrape through phase.
By becoming more aware, I think on the upstroke and downstroke "big smooth circle" - as if I need to optimise its circumference - and when scraping through I imagine the oval out of the back of the stroke. By doing this, my screen data dramatically improves and consistent power comes back through the stroke.
It should be easy riding a bike. Sit in the saddle, turn the pedals and go. If you're a leisure rider, then keep doing what you're doing - just enjoy being in the saddle. However, if you want to master road cycling and do some longer rides, then your pedalling efficiency will help considerably as you will ultimately put more watts through your stroke and be as energy efficient as possible.
One other tip I can give you is to ride one-legged, either on a turbo trainer or out on a ride (where it's safe to do so). You'll really feel the importance of scraping through and pulling up with your knees. If you can repeat that feeling with both legs, you're technique will improve significantly.