Top 5 Essential Cycling Skills Every Cyclist Should Learn
In this article, we are gonna show you five essential Cycling Skills that will help make you more confident on the bike. These skills do take practice, but they will make you become a more all-rounded rider. The good news is that they are not too difficult to master but it is really important to work on them. If you’re just starting out on the bike, particularly if you’re going to be riding out on the open road or in groups.
5 Essential Cycling Skills You Need to Know
The first Cycling Skills we feel is important to get started is braking. Now, this could give you sleepless nights of images of you flying over the handlebars in a very unflattering manner. But you should not be losing sleep over this very simple skill. We’re going to tell you some very easy-to-learn tips on how to make sure your braking is controlled, effective, and also safe.
The first thing to remember when braking is that it’s your front brake that’s by far the most effective, so you want to progressively apply pressure to the front brake whilst feathering the rear. Although don’t squeeze so hard that your rear wheel is lifting or that you’re losing grip on the road or locking up. It’s your body position that’s really key to this, and if you have it towards the rear of the bike there’s almost no chance of going over the bars.
The more pressure you apply on the front brake, the more you will need to move your weight backward. This stops your rear wheel from wanting to lift off, and by keeping your weight low and over the back of the bike you will also prevent the rear wheel from locking up.
So now we are going to demonstrate the emergency brake. Now hopefully this is not a skill you’re going to have to use too often, but nevertheless it’s still important to learn for when you do need to use it, plus it’s going to give you more confidence and control over your bike.
When you’re trying it out though, make sure you do it on a really good road surface and on a road that’s very quiet too. And what you’ll find is that very quickly your stopping distances get a lot shorter. With practice, will become second nature. Being able to stop fast is a really important skill, but it is something that you want to avoid out on course if you’re in a group like this.
There are times when you are going to need to do it, but in general in a group, especially with modern brakes, you really need to feather with one or two fingers just on the front brake, and that’s another skill that’s worth working on, making sure that you can adjust your speed really minutely.
Out of The Saddle
Riding out of the saddle is a Cycling Skills you want to become well-accustomed to. Not only does it give you respite from those long riders in the saddle, but it also helps you get maximum power. Whether you’re sprinting, climbing, or descending, by getting out of the saddle you’re able to use your body weight to drive down through the pedals.
The first thing you want to think about is hand position. The most comfortable place to put your hands is on the hood if you’re on a road bike. Try this with other hand positions. For example, leave your hands in the drops and follow the same steps. And the more and more comfortable you get with getting out the saddle, the more pressure you can put on the pedals. It is also worth saying use your arms to lever the bike across and that will help you get maximum power out of yourself.
The next thing that you’re going to want to concentrate on is your gears because if you get out of the saddle in the same gear that you were in when you were in the saddle, you’re going to be spinning uncomfortably fast.
So what you want to do is prepare for that, knock it down a couple of gears harder on the rear cassette like so, then get out the saddle and you should be in just the right gear.
In terms of the technique, you want to get out of the saddle just at the very top of the pedal stroke, and you’re probably going to have a favored leg. Say, for example, if you’re right-handed, you might find that you like to get out of the saddle when your right foot is at the top of the pedal stroke.
Then when you’re out of the saddle you can drive down through the pedals and what you’ll find is that the bike leans slightly in the opposite direction. So when your right leg pushes down, your bike leans to the left.
Cornering is one of those Cycling Skills that will not only give you confidence when you start to get it right, but it’s also, quite frankly, blooming enjoyable when you get it right too. And it doesn’t matter where you are in the world either.
If you’re descending down a mountain, or if you’re in the city, or if you’re in some quiet country lanes like we are today, you’re always going to come across a few corners. It’s a super simple skill to learn but it’s easy to get wrong.
The key thing to really concentrate on is looking way ahead. By focusing on where you want to go you’re able to scan the road ahead for holes and rough surfaces. But most importantly, where you look is where your bike and body will go. The other really important consideration when it comes to cornering is your pedal position. So when you’re going through a left-hand turn such as this one, you want to make sure that your right-hand crank is at the very bottom of the pedal stroke, and vice verse if you’re going around an opposite corner.
Just as they’ve ably demonstrated now. The first reason for this is that it will prevent you from clipping your inside pedal on the tarmac and bringing your back wheel off the ground.
The second reason is that by putting weight through that outside pedal you should be increasing your grip on the surface of the road. And lastly, it’s also going to help you balance and distribute your weight through your bike as you lean it into the corner.
If you can, try to find a quiet piece of road with a gentle corner. Concentrate on these few points and you will find yourself gaining more and more confidence in taking corners at speed.
Riding one-handed is a Cycling Skills every cyclist should have. Not only is it essential when you want to eat and drink on the bike without stopping, but it’s also really useful for being able to signal to other road users. Of all of the basic skills that we are teaching you today, this is probably the easiest one to practice.
One again, you just need to find a nice, straight, fairly quiet piece of road, get up to comfortable cruising speed, at which point when you’re ready just take one hand, slide off the bars for a short period of time. Now as you get a bit more confident, take your hands a bit further off the bar for a slightly longer period of time. As you get more and more comfortable, practice drinking from your bottle, taking a bar out from your back pocket, or pointing out road furniture to all of us to avoid.
One of the things with riding one-handed is that when you first get into cycling it doesn’t feel like a skill that you’re going to need an awful lot, but the more cycling you do, the more you’ll realize that you need it.
And lastly, another important skill we feel you should master is observation. Whether you’re training, racing, or even just going out on a ride in your local roads, it’s important to look out for those unexpected surprises.
And this applies no matter what type of cyclist you are, whether you’re a mountain biker or a road rider, but since we’re the latter we’ll talk about that. What we mean is scanning the road for anything that could pose you a danger, whether that’s something actually on the road or it might be that it is other road users, because the more you cycle, the more you can begin to predict the movement of those other road users.
And once you’ve mastered this skill of observation, what you’ll find is that your rides are both safer and more enjoyable. So look out for those potholes, loose gravel on the road, manhole covers, or even oil that can be really slippery. Yep, and when you do master the art of finding all those hazards on the road, if you’re on a group ride, point them out to the others on there as well and you could avoid a lot of accidents.
We hope this article will help you to feel more at ease when you are out on your bike. Be sure to keep practicing these Cycling Skills and they will become second nature. At least they should, and if you do perfect all of these skills and you’d like to take one of them one step further, just down here we have got a video dedicated to all things cornering. If you have any question please let us know through the comment.