Better bike handling on a road bike helps you avoid crashes, move through the peloton and corner like a pro! And, the only way to get better is by practicing. By getting out of your comfort zone and being playful on your bike, you can become a better rider and have more fun!
1) Learn to Unclip on Both Sides
Learning to unclip with both feet is a super important skill to practice, so you are ready to put a foot down at any given moment.
2) Ride in a Straight Line
It might sound basic, but riding in a straight line is harder than you think. When you are out on your next ride, hug the line on the side of the road. Practice looking over your shoulder and NOT veering off the line. Stay relaxed and bend your elbows. This skill will help you better control your bike when you are riding in a group.
3) Get Close!
Whether you are racing or participating in a sportive, getting close to the riders around you is inevitable. So, practice riding close when you are out on your next ride with a buddy. When you’re working on this skill, it’s best to use a vacant road without traffic or a parking lot. First, start by taking one hand off the bars and touching the shoulder of the rider next to you. Next, stick your elbows out. Practice bumping into the elbow of the rider next to you. Make sure your hands are in the drops when you are working on this skill, to avoid locking bars with your neighbor. Then, get even closer! Lean into the rider next to you, and tell your friend to lean back. Lean harder, try to not to lose control.
4) Learn to Track Stand
Track stands help you work on your balance and control. Practice track stands before and/or after your next ride when you are in a parking lot, or even on the grass (just in case you fall over). If you have flat pedals, it doesn’t hurt to put them on while you practice. With your hands on the hoods of the bars and your fingers on the brakes, come to a slow stop. Keep your pedals level to the ground. Your weight should be in your feet. Turn your front wheel for added balance. Look ahead, not at your front wheel. Try letting off the brakes and rocking back and forth. You’ve got it!
5) Grab a Water Bottle!
Working on dynamic movements on the bike can help you become more confident and increase your awareness of what’s around you. Practice this drill in an open parking lot. Start by putting a water bottle on the ground. Then, get on your bike and ride toward the water bottle. Bend down and try to pick it up. Did you get it? Cool! Now, practice picking it up with the other hand. Got it? Now try to go faster!
6) Learn to Bunny Hop
The bunny hop is the ultimate bike skill to learn. It is a complicated movement, but it can really help you out on the road to avoid obstacles or pot holes. Plus, it’s fun! Practice this drill in an open parking lot before trying it on the road. First, stand up on your pedals. Lift your front wheel by moving down and then springing up and slightly back, bringing your front wheel with you. Then, try lifting just your rear wheel by moving down and then springing up while scooping your feet. Next, try lifting both wheels at the same time.
Now get out and practice! Your technical road riding – from corners to cobbles and navigating the road in adverse weather conditions – will improve immensely!