Communication is key
When riding on the road, on the track or in a race, being clear about what you intend to do is the safest option. Giving good early signals (where possible) that you are going to deviate from your current course, or that there is a hazard on the road to avoid, or that you are turning, means others can make the relevant decisions on what they will do. During a race, the rules mean you need to stay left at all times unless you are passing. It’s always a good idea to let people know that you are about to go past them. Sometimes moving near them gives them a fright and they could even veer into your path, so giving them early warning can help to avoid a near-miss.
Understand your limits and the environment you are in. Riding can be dangerous, so knowing that and taking the necessary precautions is vital. Use lights, both front and rear, if you even remotely think you might be out when the light is low. Be visible to traffic by waving politely to drivers to let them know you are there and thanking them for keeping an eye on you – it works wonders for developing mutual respect. Don’t tackle busy roads or big hills if you are not yet confident of your skills. There is no benefit to that on race day so stay safe above everything else. Take a water bottle and spare tyres whenever you are heading away from home. There is nothing worse than being stranded without any of the gear you need. Being self-reliant is important.
No one actually likes hills (or if they do then they are nuts) because hills are hard. But hills are an incredible strength builder that will make you faster overall. They are a skill though, so understanding how to ride hills is important. Don’t just start at the bottom and go as hard and fast as you can until you simply can’t anymore. Hills require a strategy. Understand how to use your gears effectively, plan your approach, manage your effort level, change your position on the bike, and you’ll soon be up and over like a pro. Then, simply repeat. Over and over again until your confidence has grown or you’ve won the QOM (or KOM if the case may be) and you need a new challenge!
Get a wind trainer / turbo trainer / smart trainer
Time poor? Don’t like riding on the roads? Miserable weather? There’s a heap of reasons why a stationary trainer is an excellent training tool. But to put it simply, it is the best piece of equipment for time-to-effort ratio that you can get. Minimal preparation time required, minimal clothing and equipment required, and you can do it anytime, anywhere, but best of all, there is no cheating. The effort you put in is constant. You can’t glide, coast or chill and there are no traffic light stops, roundabouts, etc, to give you that sneaky break. Bang for buck, this is a winner. The better you want to get, the more time you’ll put in here. Many professionals use these as a staple of their training. Good enough for them then good enough for age groupers. Bored? Hook up with Zwift or TrainerRoad or even binge on Netflix. No excuses.
It shouldn’t be uncomfortable
Sure, training isn’t like being on a beach sipping pina coladas, but you shouldn’t be in pain either. If your bike doesn’t fit properly, sort that out. If your seat leaves you in agony, get a new one. If your back hurts, find out why. People ride for days on end, so comfort is possible – you might just have to explore a few things to get to that point, but don’t give up. If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t enjoy training. If you can’t train effectively, you can’t race well.
Everyone falls off
Even the most experienced rider falls off from time to time. A quick YouTube search will assure you of that. The trick is to fall off safely. It might be that you are new to clipping in and out and simply haven’t been prepared. Or it might be that you had to make a quick stop and couldn’t get your foot out fast enough, and down you go. Or the usual, you clipped out but leaned the wrong side. Whatever it is, the best technique is to stay attached to your bike and go with the flow. Depending on your situation, putting your arm out may not be the best way to break your fall (easier said than done), as you’re likely to break a wrist, or collarbone, or worse. Sometimes letting the bigger parts of your body take the brunt, like your hip and shoulder, might be a safer option. Most of the time these types of falls are at a slow speed, so most of the damage is usually just to our pride!
Learn the basics
From cornering to changing a tyre, having the skills you need to handle situations will make riding more enjoyable and less stressful should you ever need to utilise those skills. Most triathletes are accused of having poor bike skills unless we are going in a straight line, so take the time to learn the basics, including what the parts of your bike are called, how they work, what strategies to use with gears, etc, so you can mix it with all your cycling friends.
By Michelle Cooper – Pushys Sponsored Athlete
Categories: Riding Tips