Sharpen your cycling skills, improve confidence, and gain speed while ascending and descending with these top tips from the Bike Bolder workshop held in Boulder in June with IRONMAN champion Rachel Joyce and leadership coach and founder of the Warmi Project, Dana Platin.
General cycling tips:
- Look ahead, and not down at your front wheel. This helps you anticipate gear changes and braking.
- Relax your elbows. This will help you to relax your shoulder and neck muscles and will result in a smoother ride.
- Improve your cornering skills by leaning your bike as opposed to steering with your handlebars. For example, to take a right turn straighten your left (outside) leg and push down on the pedal; then counterbalance by pushing your weight through your right hand onto the handlebar.
Notes on ascending:
- Don’t go too hard too early. A consistent, sustained effort results in a quicker ascent and will feel easier.
- Stay seated as much as possible. Getting out of the saddle should be limited to steeper parts of the climb and/or to stretch out your back. Don’t be afraid to shift your position on the saddle and your hand position on the handlebars. In Rachel’s words, “Pushing your bum back on your saddle will enable you to engage your glutes better.”
- Relax! Keeping a relaxed elbow and lowering your torso will enable you to engage your core and glutes properly.
- Gear choice is everything. Look ahead to see what the climb does and shift down before you hit a steeper section. Also take the time to study a bike course ahead of time for an upcoming race and decide whether you might need to change your rear cassette for some extra gearing.
Notes on descending:
- Look ahead. This will allow you see any corners or potholes well in advance and you will be able to maneuver accordingly.
- Relax. Keeping your knees and elbows soft will lend itself to a smoother ride and will make your bike feel less twitchy.
- Control your speed using your brakes (back and front). Aim to control your speed before you enter a corner. Try not to “drag” your brakes the whole way down but “feather” them on and off.
- On straight descents keep your feet in the “quarter to three” position for extra stability.
- Keep your weight back on your saddle. Especially on steeper gradients.
- Get low. The lower your body position, the lower your center of gravity, and that means more stability. However, remember you can also lift your torso to have a braking effect in the wind (similar to a sail) when you want to slow down.
And remember to keep it fun!
Participants in the Bike Bolder workshop held on June 3 had the opportunity to join Rachel Joyce and Dana Platin for a hands-on skills lesson to review each of these points while putting their cycling skills to the test ascending and descending NCAR. Following the bike session, Dana Platin led a mental skills workshop where the group discussed the Courage Zone and how to navigate obstacles, tap into strengths, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Local triathletes are invited to join in the Run Stronger workshop, the last of the three-part Braver Bolder Stronger series, to be held this Sunday, July 15.