Sunday rides, such a good time to go out for a nice long spin with buddies. Spinning spokes and telling jokes, but not all the time though. When words dry up, spokes start to spin faster than you can blink, and that’s when confidence can go in the other direction. For road riding in groups you’ll be able to notice the more confident riders are at the front. Mostly because of their abilities, they have the confidence to be at the front of the peloton.
What makes a person confident on a bike? Hopefully you’ve read the last article on cycling confidence. In this article we’re giving you some pointers on improving your control on the bicycle. Do you know pros work on their bike handling skills with drills to keep them sharp and in full control? Knowing how to handle your bike in difficult situations gives you the confidence and knowledge to avoid crashes or injuries. So instead of focusing on improving your fitness, spending a few minutes each week on drills will certainly be worth the time and it’ll make you more comfortable and confident on your bike.
GO PRO WITH THESE DRILLS:
1. STRAIGHT LINE RIDING
Goal: Improve Balance and Braking Sensitivity
Start on straight white/yellow line on the road or any place where you have a straight line marker. Try riding on it at a comfortable speed, around 10km/h, and do your best to stay on the line. As you progress you should be able to ride slower at around 2 km/h, roughly slower than walking. For most beginners you’ll notice that at the first attempt you will feel wobbly. That’s your body working its balance muscles. Another secret that not many know of is that while performing this drill, you can use the brakes, both back and front. Use around 50% of braking pressure and cycle against the brakes. That will help you maintain the speed and help to stabilize the bike. The reason for practicing this drill is to improve balance & braking sensitivity. This will enable you to ride with confidence in tight situations during heavy traffic and large groups.
2. 3 POINT TOUCH
Goal: Improve Balance
Ride in a large circle, use either hand and touch your bottle cage. If your bike doesn’t have one then you can reach for the bottom tube of the bike. While performing this drill keep your eyes on the road and not on your hands. Begin with your hands on the handlebar grips, secondly reach for the bottle cage or bottom tube and lastly back again to the handle bar grips. The better you get the further you can reach away from the Ride in a large circle, use either hand and touch your bottle cage. If your bike doesn’t have one then you can reach for the bottom tube of the bike. While performing this drill keep your eyes on the road and not on your hands. Begin with your hands on the handlebar grips, secondly reach for the bottle cage or bottom tube and lastly back again to the handle bar grips. The better you get the further you can reach away from the grips. If you are not confident enough you can try releasing any side of the grip and then grab it again, as you feel more comfortable you can start to go further away from the grip and reaching towards places like the stem or top tube.
This drill is to help you learn how to balance your bike while drinking or just maybe it’ll help when you want to scratch your nose or adjust your sunglass.
3. START – STOP
Goal: Braking Control
Start with riding around at a comfort fast pace. Then hit the brakes to slow down gradually, by applying a braking pressure of around 50% – 60% and you’ll find yourself slowing down gradually, just like while driving a car when you’re about to decrease your speed to stop at a traffic light. Do not pump the brakes or intermittently brake. When you are about to slow to a halt, ready your foot at the 2 o’clock position on the crank and then pedal off to regain back your speed and repeat the process. Keep your movements smooth to ensure that you have good timing and, mentally speed through the steps.
This drill will help you regulate your braking strength, braking pressure of around 50% – 60% especially during emergencies when you need to slow down abruptly. You can actually decrease speed drastically without locking the wheels, like a finger activated Anti-skid Braking System controlled by your brain.
Goal: Improve Corner and Corner Exit Speed
Choose your line through each corner. If you corner correctly, you should clip the apex of the turn. Make sure your inside crank arm is in the vertical position so that your pedal doesn’t touch the ground. Also keep pressure on the outer foot and hands when entering a corner. Always keep sighting far ahead to locate your targeted line. Leaning into the corners also will help you counter the inertia on the bike, exactly like how motorbikes go through the turns. Practice cornering on the inside and outside in both directions and try accelerate each time you exit the corner. Set up a slalom course and also practice 180-degree turns. Also be cautious and look out to avoid sand and potholes.
5. SPEED CONTROL
Goal: Control Speed and Momentum
You can practice this with a partner. Ride behind your partner and when he or she slows down slightly, decrease your cadence and let the bike slow down by itself.
This drill is very handy when you ride in a group as the speed fluctuates up and down slightly so you won’t need to hit the brakes all the time. But do keep your fingers on the brakes just in case, especially when you are drafting someone.
Remember when you are out there practicing and riding with your buddies always remember to stay relaxed and confident. The more relaxed you are, the more in control you are.
Cycling & Fitness Coach
Jessen Lee is a Level 2 Sports Science Coach, specializing in cycling skills and performance, triathlon and general physical fitness. Certified by Majlis Sukan Negara, PMBIA, and ITU, he also conducts group and personal coaching sessions under The Ride School for road, off-road cycling, and triathlon for all levels. With 20 years of training, racing, and coaching experience, he passionately shares his love for sports with the community.