Monday, November 25, 2013

Only for the elite cyclist


You don't need to be able to destroy the field at Flanders to benefit from bike handling skills that are typically only proliferated to riders who race

In fact anyone who rides with a group can benefit from a wide variety of drills that improve your ability to keep from making contact with the ground should disaster....or some less that attentive rider should strike when riding with a group.

I'm not going to paint some. Fuzzy picture that learning theses skills and doing these drills may not 
Put you on the ground while you are learning , but I can promise you that it is better to find yourself down on the grass in a controlled environment with no loss of skin. Than out on the road I traffic when you could have avoided it with a few basic simple skills

I just came from a coaching clinic (totally geared towards racers) where we did some things that were real eye openers to me.

One thing that I teach in basic road safety is not to overlap wheels, to communicate (signal turns, verbally indicate when you are stopping or passing)

All that said, in a race situation most of the time you will not get this kind of courtesy, so this clinic that included aspiring high level coaches, high category racers, pro level and even world champion riders, we did a drill to demonstrate what to do if you should find yourself in the heinous situation of a wheel overlap and the rider you are passing takes out your front wheel...... I would like to mention here that  have never in thousands of miles of riding ever had anyone hit my front wheel, but  I of course did the drill because it seemed to have a lot of value.  The first thing I learned in the first drill where we were supposed to ram the shell of the rider in front of us head on is that IT'S A LOT HARDER TO HIT A WHEEL INTENETIONALLY. THAN YOU WOULD THINK!
We were supposed to ram the tire of the rider I front of us and seperate using only our body weight, we were not allowed to used the brakes, plus we were doing this on a grass field which made the landing padd softer but made the execution of this drill a bit more difficult only a road bike

Next thing that I learned was that when you contact wheels in an overlap situation you drive the wheel into the bike that you are in conflict with to gain separation.  The second time I did this I ended up on the ground. BTW don't just grab your buddy and go out in a field and try this, we had some build up to this to aid in being able to execute

After my one contact with the ground, I was able to pull this move off successfully pretty much at will  5 or 6 more times without incident.  Which brings me to the real world application that I go t when riding back to the hotel.  Remember when I said in the more relaxed atmosphere of a group ride you should be able to count on the people around you communicating with you their intentions?  I.e. Right turn (hand signal or verbal) slowing, passing.  And how I had never had anyone clip my front wheel ever?f. Well we were just riding casually back to the hotel (18-20 mph) when the guy at the front of the group without warning suddenly turned right in front of the guy in front of me, forcing him to slow suddenly and turn right to avoid collision And right across my front wheel, as is suddenly found myself boxed in on his right with no where to go as I had been closing at the time because....I made the erroneous assumption that the guy in front (who has likely been riding longer than I have been alive) was going to use the hotel driveway and not cut suddenly into the grass without warning.

So. Three things went wrong here, neither rider said slowing or signaled, I totally understand why #2 guy that I actually made contact with said nothing, he was just reacting, to my credit I did yell "hey!" Just before we hit, but failed to say "on your right" mainly because I really had no intention of being on his right any more than he had intended to have to stop or turn right.  The meat head on the front however had no excuse other than the fact that he was from California :) Just kidding Californians.... or am I :)

Here's the great news, I was able to use my new skill and did not end up on the ground with some new road rash and possibly worse.  All because I didn't overreact and even learned a new adaption to the drill. Turns out it even works a littl e better if you can drive into it if separation is not immediate.

All's well that ends well. Once we got our adrenaline under control, we had a good laugh and a new appreciation of what  we learned and are going to soon be teaching other riders.

To learn more about this and experience some great drills to make you a better everyday rider. Follow this blog and/or join my meetup group so that you will get notice when I start doing clinics in the spring.  Join my Meetup here

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