One Page Guide to Biking
Body Position: Always maintain a flat back, whether you're on a mountain bike, riding in the drops of a road bike, or in aero position. Keep your core engaged. Ideally, if you were to take your hands off of the handlebars, you would be able to hold your body erect without using your arms for support. Keep your shoulders rotated down and relaxed. Head is aligned with the spine (avoid tucking the chin or arching the head back). Maintain a slight, relaxed bend in the elbows; don't lock out your arms. Relax your grip on the handlebars. Focus on keeping your body engaged, but relaxed.
Bike Fit: Make sure that your bike fits you. Frame, wheels, and handlebars all influence your bike fit, and can all contribute to a poor fit. The best way to make sure your bike fits is to have a professional bike fitting.
Pedaling Technique: Rather than firing your legs up and down like pistons, try to effect a lateral movement. Think of your pedal stroke like the face of a clock: From 11 to 2 o' clock, push forward, as though you're rolling your foot over a barrel; from 2 to 5 o' clock, push down; from 5 to 8 o' clock, pull your foot back as if you're scraping something from the bottom of your shoe; from 8 to 11 o' clock, unweight your foot so that the opposite leg doesn't have to work to push it up. Be sure that your hips, knees, and ankles are aligned. If your knees or toes turn out or in, you'll put extra stress on your hip and knee joints. Also make sure that your legs don't wobble as you turn the pedals.
Cadence: Strive for a cadence between 88-95 RPM, especially if you're a newer cyclist. Optimal cadence is a fairly individual thing; in other words, your optimal cadence is likely different from your training partner's. But 88-95 is a good range to begin with. If you've been training on the bike for a while, you'll probably be comfortable in a wider range of cadences. When riding, always choose a gear that will enable you to maintain this quick, efficient cadence. Turning the pedals more slowly in a higher gear might allow you to achieve the same speed as a high cadence, but it is less efficient, and can put unnecessary stress on the hip and knee joints.
Climbing: Find a gear that will allow you to keep your legs turning quickly and efficiently. It's normal for your cadence to slow, especially on a long, steep hill. The key here is consistency.
Standing: Maintain a relaxed and engaged body. Maintain a flat back and loose, relaxed elbows. If you're climbing a very steep hill, you may need to shift your body weight from side to side, or pull on the handlebars to give yourself enough leverage to keep turning the pedals. With those two exceptions, try to prevent any excessive movement in your upper body. Keep your hips and torso as still as possible.
Sprinting: Maintain proper form throughout a sprint. If you can't maintain proper form, the extra energy you generate for your sprint will be lost to inefficiency, which is usually an uneven trade.