By Head ALP Coach and 5-time National Champion Alison Powers
If there was one magic training tool that you could do to become a better, faster, and more confident cyclist, would you do it? For most of us, the answer would be 'yes". Unfortunately, not very many people do this one thing. What is this one magic ticket? Improve your bike handling skills. While training, most people are focused on how many watts they are pushing instead of how many times they brake through a corner. Being able to carry speed through a corner or sit in the draft of a peloton is free speed. No intervals or recovery days are needed for free speed.
30 minutes, once a week is all it takes to vastly improve your skills and gain free speed through corners, in a pack, on single track, etc. With good bike handling skills, you will be relaxed, confident, and recovering, while others struggle, slow down, and lose valuable speed.
Here are 6 drills you can do, on your own, to improve your bike handling skills.
The Slow Race
- Pick a start and finish line about 30 meters apart and go as slow as possible from start to finish. Practice this drill standing and seated.- Goal- work on balance
- Place a cone or water bottle on the ground and slowly ride by and pick it up off the ground. Goal- balance, body/ bike separation, and the basic beginnings of proper cornering.
- set a cone (or water bottle) slalom and ride through the cones while standing and seated. Goal- dynamic movements, bike/body separation, looking ahead, balance.
Off Set Slalom
- set a cone (or water bottle) slalom with direction changes and ride through the cones while standing and seated. Goal- dynamic movements, bike/body separation, looking ahead, balance, working the bike and creating speed.
- set two cones or a water bottle on the ground and practice jumping over it while riding. Goal- learn to avoid holes, crubs, debris, rocks, etc. Timing, looking ahead, anticipating.
Parking Space Figure-8's
- Find a parking space, or two, and ride figure 8's within the space. Goal- balance, steering your bike, looking ahead, feathering brakes.
This is just a sampling of the many bike handling skills and drills that can be done to make yourself a better and more confident cyclist.