By Sarah Bonner
As base training season rolls around, so does the opportunity to practice and learn new bike skills. Long, slow base rides are the perfect time to devote your attention to skills practice. Whether you’ve been on an indoor trainer for a few months and need a refresher, or you’re trying to increase your skill set, these quick skill sessions will not only help break up long base rides but they’ll increase your bike handling confidence.
Drinking: Being able to drink on the bike is essential, so you need to know how to do it safely. To practice drinking on the move, find a line on a quiet road and ride along it while you reach down and remove your bottle, sit up, and replace it. Use the line as a guide to see how straight you can ride while you practice. If you’re new to the skill, start while gliding and gradually incorporate pedalling when you feel stable. Repeat this exercise 5-6 times in a row during your base rides until you can keep your bike in a straight line and pedal while drinking.
Looking over your shoulder: Whether you’re checking for vehicles or looking for a teammate in a race, cyclists have to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Looking over your shoulder without swerving is tougher than it seems so it’s a good skill for everyone to practice. Find a line on a quiet road and ride along it. Practice looking over each shoulder, checking where your bike is in reference to the line. If you are swerving, be conscious of your hands as they move when your shoulders pivot. Practice both sides 3-6 times in a row during base rides until you can shoulder check on both sides while riding in a straight line.
Once you’ve mastered riding with only one hand on the bars, find a quiet empty road or a parking lot. (Don’t try this in traffic.) Keeping some speed—as it will add stability—activate your core muscles, and take one hand off the bars. Then, lean back slightly as you take your second hand off, shifting your weight slightly more onto your glutes. Start with your hands close to the bars and gradually increase the amount you sit up. Don’t worry if you wobble, all you have to do is reach down and grab your bars! Remember, this skill is all about confidence! Practice for 5-10 minutes every ride until you master it.
Sarah Bonner the author of a new e-article, The Clean Girl’s Guide to Cycling: How to Clean Everything from Bar Tape to Sports Bras, has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion for cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com
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