Triathletes are notoriously bad for bike handling skills. A phrase often thrown around in pure cycling circles is “riding like a triathlete”. If your bike handling skills are not up to scratch, then I’m afraid you’re losing time and wasting effort. You can spend hours and hours each week training on the bike to be faster, however, if in a race you come screeching to a halt to take a corner or descend down a hill then your efforts are wasted. As courses become more technical, the importance of bike handling skills increases massively. When racing, your aim should be to keep as much “free speed” as possible. This means descending, cornering and taking dead turns as fast as safely possible. The more “free speed” you maintain, the less fatigued and faster you’ll go.
Bike handling skills keep you safe
Having good bike handling skills doesn’t just make you faster in races, it keeps you safe too. If you wobble/swerve when you take your hands off the bars to signal or to take a drink from your bottle, you’re not safe. Despite the highway code stating that cyclists are perfectly legal to ride two abreast, you should still consider other road users. If you can park a bus in the gap between you and the person next to you, you’re not safe. When riding in a group, you should be comfortable riding with as small a gap as possible to the person next to you, this means you’re sharing the road and not taking up unnecessary space.
With all of this in mind, today I want to share 4 easy ways to improve your bike handling skills.
Riding with a group
This is rather obvious, but to get better at something you actually have to do it. If you want to get more confident riding in a group, ride in one as much as possible! Have a look online for your nearest cycling club, they’ll have rides specifically for beginners, designed to get your group riding confidence up.
In addition, here are a few drills you can try with your buddies. First find a quiet road or empty car park. As you ride, one of you should take one arm off the bars and place it on the other’s shoulder. Try this a few times, swapping arms as you go along.
When you can do that comfortably, ride on the drops and both of you stick your elbows out. The aim here is to knock each other with your elbows.
Train on rollers
During the winter months many of us dive indoors and jump on turbo trainers, ditch the turbo trainer this winter for a set of rollers. Riding on rollers is as close to riding out doors as you can get (unless you actually venture outdoors). Rollers force you balance properly and ride in a straight line. So not only will you train your heart and lungs, you’ll be keeping up skills needed on the road.
Have a watch of pro cyclist Rochelle Gilmore – rollers level – EXPERT!
Grab the bottle
Find yourself a side street or car park, place a water bottle on the ground standing upright. The aim of this drill is to ride towards the bottle, passing it on your left hand side. As you ride past the bottle, lean over and pick it up off the ground.
After pedalling for a few strokes, with the same arm, reach down and place it back on the ground carefully so it stays upright – Then turn around and ride towards the bottle, repeating the drill with the other arm.
Here’s a great but quick video that sums up all you need to know
So there you have it, 4 easy ways to improve your bike handling skills. Like I said previously, bike handling skills are vital if you want to go fast and stay safe.
If you’ve got any drills, tips or tricks that could help others improve their bike handling skills – leave a comment in the comments section below!