Bike Handling Skills

Timid in cornering, not confident while biking?

26 May 2015
By: Carolyn Murray
Published at triathlonmagazine.ca

“Improving your confidence starts with improving your skills.  There are several ways to work on improving cycling skill level, I would suggest approaching it in a progression of five stages.”

“Learn a skill under low pressure: this means you are either by yourself or in a clinic with your peers and the skills are practiced at low to moderate speeds.”

Read the full story here.

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Phenomenal bike handling skills in action during the 2014 UCI Track World Championships:

Check out time periods of: 1:10-1:45, and from 2:10 onwards when the sprinting in the first race begins. Remember that in track cycling the bikes have one fixed gear, all adjustments to speed including braking occurs through the pedals as the rider cannot stop pedaling at any point (there is no freewheeling).

Notice how straight is the line both sprinters hold while at top speed, even in the corners. While cycling at 70+ km/h , riding shoulder to shoulder, at their absolute limit, both hold a straight line to cover the least amount of distance allowing them to hold top speed.  When peak performance comes down to thousandths of a second the importance of technique, skill, and form is clearly visible.

Nothing changes when speeds are slower and distances longer…

Cyclists and triathletes seeking improvements in race results typically train exclusively focused on riding faster, pushing more power, yet many lack the basic skill of being able to ride a straight line.  In watching televised triathlons, it appears many pros lack this basic skill as well.

The shortest – thus fastest – distance between two points is: a straight line.

What is the point of training higher and higher top end speeds, when technique falls apart leaving the rider meandering down the road covering as much distance left and right as they do forwards?  No difference in swimming: when swimmers who lack the technique to sustain body position train hard to swim faster, they end up fishtailing through the water.  Swimming harder doesn’t lead to faster swimming when you lack form, it results in wandering across the lane, covering more distance than necessary, expending more energy than necessary, ending up fatigued and without meaningful improvement.

Training technique, skill, and form may not seem like “training” to many athletes as the effort of this type of training doesn’t match that of competition… but that’s the difference between hard and smart training.  Hard training is like banging your head against the wall hoping that if you only bang hard and long enough eventually you will break through.  Smart training evaluates the wall, assesses its structure, its strong points and weak points, and then focuses in on that singular area which requires only one hit for the entire wall to come down.

All athletes have the exact same 24 hrs…it’s not what you do that matters, it’s how you do it.

Train smart: be focused, efficient, and effective in all efforts.

 

Another lesson from the video…

The sportsmanlike conduct demonstrated by both athletes at the conclusion of the final sprint reveals a level of character often unseen in sport (at least publicly)… humility in victory and respect for one’s opponent in victory and in defeat.  It is this conduct which should be synonymous across all sports and mirrored in life outside of sport.  Unfortunately, today’s ‘in your face’ competitive environment lacks the chivalry which these two competitors have in spades and which makes watching their duel only that more captivating.