When we are confident, experienced, and have repeatedly problem solved in real-time, then when it comes to competition we can focus on competing, not on executing simple skills. Beyond the fact that learning skills during competition is near impossible, it is distracting and diverts the energy required to deliver a peak performance.
In both triathlons and cycling competitions the list of bike handling skills is long, yet athletes and coaches often focus on deriving gains and improvement only by training harder instead of smarter. Why? Huge gains, sometimes even strategic gains which lead to personal bests in time, position, or both can be made simply by gaining a wider array of skills, and by mastering those skills. No, you won’t leave the velodrome or a parking lot filled with pylons soaked in adrenalin or endorphins, but you will leave with the ability to hold speed through corners, corner within a pack of riders, perhaps even learning how to use a turnaround, an ascent or a descent to an advantage that forces your competitors to expend vast amounts of energy to either keep up or catch up.
With draft legal triathlon competitions becoming increasingly common, the need to acquire and develop cycling skills should be a top priority for both new and experienced athletes. Perhaps your skills are good, but if you end up in a pack of riders who have poor skills, whether you end up in a crash or not will likely depend on your abilities, not anyone else’s.
One of the best places to learn cycling skills – for both youth and adults – is the National Cycling Centre Velodrome in Milton. Gaining the A & B Certifications required to ride open track sessions is an ideal way for cyclists and triathletes to develop track and road skills, especially since it can be done within a hi-performance training facility. Some of the skills taught in certification which apply directly to road racing and triathlons are:
(a) Track starts teach slow speed riding, acceleration from a standing position, balance, coordination, sprinting posture and technique, and weight shifting:
(b) Pace line riding teaches reading traffic, speed adjustment, shoulder checking for safe lane changes, being able to ride a straight line, hold a line through a corner, pacing, using cadence to finely adjust speed, holding an aero position on the drops, as well as cycling etiquette (skills required for pack riding and drafting):
(c) Drills such as picking up and replacing cones require the skills of one handed steering, balance, flexibility, coordination, agility, spatial awareness, weight shifting, planning and speed management:
The Velodrome is currently closed for the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games; however, once reopened cyclists and triathletes looking to improve their skills should consider the Certification Program. In the meantime, below are links to articles with other drills that will take bike handling skills to a new level…
13 March 2015
By: Luis Varga
Published at lavamagazine.com
- One legged cycling
- Top and bottom drill
- High spinning
- Learning to use the gluteus
15 June 2015
By: Mark Sortino
Published at triathlon.competitor.com