Cycling Drills Are Key To Race Day Success
Practice cycling drills to improve your bike handling skills and access your full fitness come race day.
By Scott Wrigley, MSc, CSCS, CPT, FNS, PN1, USAT Level 1 Coach, USA Cycling Level 3 Coach, US Masters Swimming Level 2 Coach
You can develop all the cycling fitness in the world, but if you don’t have the bike handling skills to relax and ride confidently you may fall short of your goals. Or worse, you may crash and potentially injure yourself.
Instead of just focusing solely on fitness, during one to two training sessions a week set aside time to practice cycling drills. Adding drills before or after training can increase your comfort and confidence on the bike, and enable you to fully express your hard-earned fitness. Also, they are fun!
I recommend that when you first start drills, you use regular tennis shoes instead of clipless cycling shoes so that if you start to tip over you can quickly put your foot down.
I recommend doing drills on grass, especially when first starting out. That way if you tip over, you and your bike have a soft landing.
Cycling drills to improve your bike handling:
1) Slow ride: ride as slow as you can in a straight line. If on grass you can lay down twine or string to follow. Football fields, soccer fields, and tracks are great options if pre-marked similar to the image below. You can also find an empty parking lot or low-traffic road.
2) Stop n Go: after you have the slow ride down, without removing your feet from the pedals come to a complete stop. Once stopped, start riding again.
3) Track stand: practice your track stand on a slight uphill. Point your bike at a 45-degree angle to the top of the hill. With both pedals at 90 degrees and your best foot forward, turn your front wheel into the hill and balance.
4) Slalom: place objects in a straight line approximately 2-3 feet apart. The closer the objects the more difficult the drill. Ride forward weaving in and out of the objects slalom style without hitting the objects.
5) Figure 8: place two objects approximately 10 feet apart. ride a figure 8 around the objects. The closer together you place the objects, the harder the drill.
6) Object pickup: Place an object on the ground, such as a sports bottle, approximately 20 feet in front of you. As you ride by, reach down and pick the object up. Practice on both sides. If an object on the ground is too difficult, you can start by touching your feet. Start by touching your foot at the top of the peddle stroke. As you get comfortable, move around the peddle stroke until you touch your foot at the bottom. Then you can move to picking objects off of the ground.
Cycling drills are fun and a great way to improve your bike handling skills. Adding some of the above cycling drills to your training one to two times a week can increase your comfort and confidence on the bike and allow you to utilize your hard-earned fitness fully.