As an endurance athlete, you are always looking for that little bit extra speed, comfort, safety and/or power. You want to get faster at cycling. While huge changes, fad diets, and crash-cycles of superhard intervals are tempting, it is often the small changes done over time that elicit the results we want. These 5 areas are relatively simple to change and make improvements, especially if you use them for long periods so that the small benefits can compound. This compounding concept is important to understand when looking at your habits and training. Not every interval will register its benefit immediately today. Often it is the consistent practice at a relatively low and manageable level that gives us results, not one hero day or super strict week of dieting.
This post will provide you with 3 drills to improve your cycling skills and balance. While they are not presented in the order I would always use and certainly a step (or three) beyond what a beginner may be comfortable doing they do provide you with some ideas and variations to scale back from, work towards or challenge yourself with today!
1) The Outrigger – Putting a Foot Out for balance and to ‘dab’ versus falling over or putting out your arm
2) Ratcheting – use a partial pedal stroke and move your body around while STANDING
3) The bump and run – a fun challenge that progresses your ratchets and moves you towards the track stand
Let me know what you think of these 3 drills!
When I hear that bike riding is causing pain, I think of these few things first.
- You brake with any finger except your index finger – modern brakes do not require multiple fingers or middle fingers. Use your index finger. Many wrist, forearm and shoulder pain is aggravated, if not caused by this. At best you are using a lever in a different way than it was designed. Use all the fingers you can to hold onto the bar!
- Your cleats are not jiggly – replace cleats at least once a season (more if you ride more or dismount a lot, or only ride one bike/set of shoes). Watch for them to click, or feel jiggly during higher rpm or bumpy sections. This can cause lower leg and foot issues and also I have seen knee pain. When you install your cleats try the farthest back setting (on mtb cleats especially).
- Your seat is very far back on the rails or pointed up – position yourself more forward (knee cap over pedal spindle or slightly ahead) so you are setup to lean forward and pedal up hills. A pointed up saddle is never indicated and is a frequent cause of numbness and saddle sores.
- Your suspension is not setup well – read your manuals or ask for help!
- Your saddle doesn’t agree with your pelvis – don’t settle for sores and numbness, look into bikefit help, try loaner saddles
- If you have knee pain in the front of your knee, try raising your saddle. If you have pain in the back of your leg (hamstring) try lowering your saddle. Do this by taping your seat post and lowering 2mm at a time.
These are 3 drills that will help you progress your cornering skill
Cornering is a multi-faceted skill with unlimited variations. Just think about how many conditions a cyclocross racer would face, and then multiply that by how many bike types and styles of riding there are! Cornering a mountain bike in B.C. Canada will require different positions, braking techniques, and different tires than if you are in a more desert location like Sedona.
Like many sports, it is wise to do isolated drills to increase your number of repetitions and practice the exact skill you want to use in your adventures. By minimizing distractions and time spent getting to that perfect corner in the forest you can make a lot of progress.
These are 3 of my favorite corner drills.
- off bike – practice leaning the bike while holding your body position and while looking with your lean
- Leaning the bike while riding in a straight line – practice shifting your hips back and forth
- Cone Drills – Slalom and Figure-8 – these are common ‘bike drills’ but using them in tandem with the above and really focusing on your bike LEANING and your hips/gaze shifting will help you make huge breakthroughs
The Consummate Athlete Podcast is a Podcast I run with my Wife, Molly Hurford (theoutdooredit.com)
The show has athletes, coaches, experts and, most importantly, regular people doing a variety of awesome things involving movement.
The goal of the show? To explore new and different ways to move that will make you better at your main sport(s) and a healthier and happier person. We have had parkour, biathlon, xc-skiing, and even dance! But who are we kidding? We are both avid cyclists and many of the people we know and many of the people we dream of talking to are cyclists.
If you want to be a better cyclist try these three episodes first. If you like the show we would love if you subscribe and try a few others that are more out of your cycling ‘safe zone’!
Geoff Kabush – How to be super fast on any bike (and set a beer+pushup record)
Download and notes: http://consummateathlete.wideanglepodium.libsynpro.com/mtb-coffee-sport-development-geoff-kabush
Stephen Seiler on Periodization, Polarized Training Concepts
Download and notes: http://consummateathlete.wideanglepodium.libsynpro.com/polarized-training-hiit-athletic-needs-steven-seiler
Frank Overton – Beyond Sweet Spot Training
Download and notes: http://consummateathlete.libsyn.com/beyond-sweet-spot-frank-overton
Subscribe to the Podcast on Apple Itunes – or – Google Play – or – Follow on Facebook – or – Check out our Webpage
This is a video with three drills to try that I find help riders break through plateaus in their progression towards Log Hops, Bunny Hops, and Jumping.
The Three Drills include:
- An off-bike drill that helps you feel what it is like to push into the handlebar and front wheel
- A manual practice focused on moving your hips down then back in an L shape
- A front wheel ‘tap’ drill that is functional for getting over logs but takes the first off-bike drill and applies the concept of pushing into the bars into this ‘level 4’
For a progression of the 5 stages of log Hopping check out my video that Canadian Cycling Magazine produced HERE
The latest episode of the podcast has a couple interesting but not simple to answer questions.
These questions are really a matter of who you are, and what you are trying to do. What is your goal?
A second question is to ask what you are trying to do and what the main thing that you need to do is? If you want to mountain bike you should mountain bike. The other stuff (foam rolling, really low cadence, foam rolling, ice paths, altitude etc.) are just the extra 1% that you might add after you have done your time on mountain biking (or your goal)
Think about those ‘world class basics’ or the 80:20 concept … what makes the good people good? Is it the crazy balance exercises or the time they spend in the goal sport that isn’t as glamorous to post on social media?
Have you been trying to get the log hop figured out?
Do you want to learn how to bunny hop your bike? This post outlines the 5-step system that I use in Smart Athlete bike-skills sessions around North America. We use this system for cyclocross racers learning to barrier hop, roadies wanting to hop curbs and potholes and, of course, mountain bikers bunny hopping logs.
Thanks to Canadian Cycling Magazine we have some super production of my 5-step system to share. This is the basic system I use to help athletes of all abilities get better at logs. This might be a pro looking to hop giant logs smoother, or simply avoid race-ending flats. For beginners getting that first front-wheel-lift is so motivating. Whatever point you at in your log hop/bunny hops give these steps a try.
Regardless of the step that you are on, remember all of these steps are used during a ride. Sometimes we jump things and sometimes we pummel over them!
Whether you are new to cycling or an expert, taking time to review the 5 steps we use on the trail and road to clear obstacles is worthwhile. There is always an element we can progress, using higher logs, more abrupt roll-overs, more speed / less speed. Enjoy the never-ending process of moving your bike over obstacles!
Beginners often need to work on level 2 and 3 (wheel lifting) while advanced riders, who can do the Level 4/5 (‘bunny hop’), often surprisingly need help with level 1 to be smooth and over terrain at speed (rolling over things smoothly / rear-wheel awareness).
If you are looking to progress quickly or finding you are stuck on one of the stages why not try a skill session with Smart Athlete?
Inevitably or eternally, #CrossIsComing, so when you decide it’s time to get ready for CX season what workouts are best for you to do?