I taught a private lesson this week to a new rider, someone who is very tentative on the bike. We started with the basics on the stationary trainer. How to stand up on the pedals while coasting and going straight, this might seem very basic, but I always tell clients that I can find people who cannot do what they can do, there are many who cannot even balance on 2 wheels! We all have our “next challenge” and whether you have been riding 2 months or 30 years, there is always something new to work on and master.
Coasting was a new skill and it took some time to get comfortable with it, check. Done after 20 minutes of practice and some changes to make the bike fit better. #2, Braking, how to shift weight back and really stop quickly, and then get a foot down. Not that easy, key is to start without being clipped in so you can put either foot down quickly.
We went on from there eventually adding clip-less pedals and tackling hills, but the thing that struck me, and that usually suprises me is how many small things you must master to really enjoy cycling. It is a technical sport, but once we master it we forget it was ever a problem and often end up on a plateau where we stop learning.
Where are you at and what do you need to work on to get to the next level? What are you focused on improving this season? Going faster downhill? Cornering more confidently, tackling steeper hills, riding no-hands, bunny hopping, jumps, some kind of new genre of cycling, standing up and jamming up VERY steep roads or trails, drafting off of a good rider at speed? Pick an area and focus on it, spend time working on it and soon you will step up to the next level and love cycling even more. There are always challenges to keep you sharp and progressing.
Spin to win,
I have dedicated the last 15 years of my life to help people improve their cycling, and climbing is almost always at the top of their lists of challenges. Every rider I work with needs to improve their Climbing, from Century rides, Gravel Grinders, Cyclocross to RAMROD to STP, it is the focus for most riders. I was lucky to learn to climb early when I moved to Colorado and began racing road in the mountains, everyone who races there is a great climber. My 2nd race was the Mt. Evans hillclimb (highest paved road in US over 14,000ft) and when I was a pro mountain biker I won a WorldCup medal for 3rd place with the best in the world racing up Mammoth Mountain, so climbing has been my cycling “thesis” and major area of study since 1987.
Climbing requires more than just fitness, I have coached some of the fittest riders around and often is is more subtle techniques like mental “fueling”, pedal stroke or fueling correctly that makes the biggest difference. Climbing will test you and *can* bring out the best in you, it can also allow you to find ways to give up early.
If you are trying to unlock your best climber, start with where you are with your fitness now and accept your ability and limitations as starting points. You have a pattern of how you climb, and if you want to improve there are a number of things you can look at BESIDES your training/fitness level to be sure you are climbing as well as you can:
1. Pedal stroke optimization
2. Breathing techniques for steady and hard climbing
3. Posture and hand position
4. Bike fit to allow full power
5. Pacing tools to fit terrain
6. Shifting smooth transitions and cadence
7. Standing skills, recovery and full-gas
8. Fueling precision
I think this was the 19th year in a row I had a booth at the Seattle Bike Expo or Bike show. It is interesting to see how things have changed over the years, I was the first professional Bicycle Coach in Seattle to be at the show in 1997, at that time people said “who needs a bike coach, everyone knows how to ride a bike!” How wrong they were…but this year there weren’t any other coaches there, but there was some cool stuff despite there being less bike shops in attendance.
#1 on my list is the new locally made Gerard bicycles, a very sexy looking road machine created by local racing/cool guy legend John Sheehan, former Irish national champion who is making these sweet rides out of Kirkland! They look like a cross between a Pinarello and an Orbea, Here is a link and a pic:Oh and there were some cool bikes from Portland, and fenders and other fancy artesian stuff…but who cares, I’m not really into the “slow” bike thing, although I support anyone not in a hurry, just don’t get in my way : )
#2 holy crap the Electric bikes are here! This show had more electric bikes than charity century rides, there were blocks of 10 booths ALL electric with CRAZY looking machines that looked like mini motor cycles, scooters, regular bikes and trikes.