5 Cycling Skills Every Beginner Cyclist Should Know
Dec 17, 2021
Congratulations on learning how to stay upright on a bike!Now that you know how to balance yourself on it, it’s time for you to upgrade your skills. Knowing how to balance doesn’t really mean you already know how to ride. Unfortunately, many beginners don’t even know the basics which is why it’s harder for them to lose weight (if that’s the goal) or to do distance bike runs.There are cycling skills that every biker should know. They are not just for show. You shouldn’t learn them to just impress someone with your cycling but more so, to help you go faster yet still safer while on the road.Here are five skills that you must master to truthfully claim that you could ride a bicycle and to ride safely on the road with buses, motorcycles, and other vehicles all around.
1. How to Brake
You can’t go fast if you don’t know how to brake safely. This skill does not just entail learning how to grab one of your bike levers. It has specifics that you have to know by heart.You press on the left handlebar for the front brake which has more stopping power and is used for emergency purposes. You could be tossed over the bars if you press on it too strongly. The right handlebar is for the rear brake and if you only rely only on it to stop the bike, then you might lose control and fishtail.Always use both brakes with equal pressure when you’re planning to stop. For example, you’re on a busy road in the city and there’s heavy traffic. Vehicles are almost bumper to bumper. You would want to have a grip on the brake hood or the drops so that it’s easy to grab both brake levers when coming to a stop.To practice, find an empty parking lot or a street in your neighborhood with hardly any cars passing by. Sprint for 10 seconds and then come to a stop as quickly as you can while still staying safe. You would have an idea of how strong the braking power of your bike is and how long it will take for you to come to a complete stop.
2. How to Balance
This is the first skill you most likely learned to get your bike moving. You need to develop the skill a little bit more though when you’re ready to ride on the road and your speed will be increasing. For tight spaces and riding in groups, balance is also harder to achieve.To have better balance, look forward, not downward, or close to the obstruction that you are avoiding. This will help you to steer properly so that you won’t wobble too much. When on a road bike, there’s a need to ride in corners and at a faster speed. Your hands must be in the handlebar drops so that your center of gravity would be lowered. Lean your bike into a turn so that you could steer and balance more easily.Practice with cone drills to develop your balance on the bike. Wind through a straight line of cones without knocking anything over. Once the drill becomes easy for you, reduce the spaces in between.
3. How to Shift
When you don’t know how to shift gears, you would lose momentum and even have to get off your bike when climbing. You need to know how much pressure you have to put in order to shift to the right gear before you need to.When it’s a big shift, go to your right pedal and reach for the front chainrings. On a modern road bike, you could switch from the big to the small front chainrings by simply tapping on the left shift mechanism on your handlebar. Pedaling will be easier when you shift to a smaller chainring and pedaling will be harder when shifting to the bigger chainring.When it’s a smaller shift, on the right side of the handlebar, locate the shift mechanism. The chain will move up or down the right side of the back wheel or the rear cassette. When the chain is up, it’s easier to pedal. When it’s down, it’s harder to pedal.It’s very important to be using the right gear when you are approaching a mountain or changing terrains. When going up, it’ll be hard for you to change gears so before even making the ascend, already switch to a small chainring.Practice shifting gears somewhere without too many cars on the road. Switch from small to big chainrings until you get the hang of it. To control the shifting, only move the chain one cog on the rear cassette.
4. How to Pedal
You have to learn how to pedal your bike in smooth circles. This time, you’d be using your glutes, calves, and hamstrings as well as your quadriceps muscles. When you use the right body parts, it will improve your strength and endurance and would help you cycle faster and longer.Do single-leg pedaling drills on an indoor bike for 10-15 revolutions. This would help you activate your hamstrings.
5. How to Descend
Since you are not going against gravity, going down will be much faster than going up. When going downhill, you need to know how to handle, balance and brake your bike properly.Keep your weight on the saddle to hold traction of the rear wheel. To lower the center of gravity which will make your balance more easily, use the drops. To control speed, always have both hands on the brake levers. Look forward and steer with your hips by leaning the bike to the side. Relax the grip so that you won’t exhaust your hands’ powers, you won’t oversteer when you’re about to approach an obstacle.
To prolong the lifespan of your bike, make sure you tuck it away properly when not in use.You may use the FlexiMounts’ wall-mounted bike rack BR1. The height is adjustable and the weight capacity is up to 300 pounds. It’s made of cold-roll steel that can support up to six bikes. These are J-shaped hooks that will secure your bike in the proper vertical position. The hook spacing can be adjusted because it’s your discretion where to position them. These can also be easily installed with just four steps to follow. Drill holes in a horizontal line where you can install wall plates with tapping screws. Pass the bike rod through the plate in the left wall and insert the hooks on the right end of the bike rod. Last is to fix the left end of the rod with two screws then plug it into the right end.