Bike Safety Check: Top 5
Before your ride perform the following:
Check your brakes for wear.
Wheels: Check your quick releases (or through-axles) are tight. And your wheels are true.
Check your tires for wear and make sure they are inflated to the recommended pressure (this is found on the sidewall of the tire).
Clean and lube the chain
Check to make sure the bottom bracket / headset are tight and not loose.
BRAKING: Top 5
Don't grab the brakes. Instead, feather the brakes by applying brake pressure slowly and gradually.
Anticipate when you will need to slow down and brake before hand.
Sit-up to be less aerodynamic and use your body like a sail to slow you down.
Front brake has more stopping power than your rear, however, both brakes together have maximum effect. The forces you apply may be different. For increasing your stopping use more force on the front brake.
Stopping fast: in a hard brake straighten your arms and move your weight backwards.
Resources: How To Brake Like A Pro - Road Cycling
Descending / Cornering: Top 5
Practice leaning the bike to turn rather than turning the handle bars. Practice riding ‘S’ turns on a flat section of road. Focus on weighting your inside hand and outside leg.
Relax and lower your center of gravity (ride in the drops). This helps you be more stable and have more control.
Regulate your speed before a turn by feathering the brakes to scrub your speed. Try to refrain from braking once you’re in the turn. Braking effects are accentuated in corners. It increases the forces on the tires and is one of the biggest causes of crashes.
Eyes should be looking ahead beyond the turn / through the turn, and not down at the ground. You naturally ride where you look. Don’t look at the things you want to avoid! Looking ahead maximizes your reaction time.
Use all the road you have available to you. Smooth out the corners by cutting the apex of the corner. Ride from the outside of the corner on approach to the inside or the corner and then back to the outside again as you exit the corner. Take time to set up the right line through the corner.
Climbing: Top 5
Find the right gearing. You don't want to be under-geared (spinning too high) or over-geared (legs are grinding with a low cadence). Using a gear that is too hard can stress your knees due to the torque (plus it is mechanically inefficient). The steeper the climb, the lower the cadence.
Slow down: Pacing is so important. Don’t put yourself into the red zone early on at the base of the climb. Start off slow and build into the climb. Climbing is about tempo. It is about finding a rhythm. Practice climbing and locking in a tempo by using counting. The counting serves as a metronome. There are a couple of ways I use counting. You can count every pedal stroke:1-2-3-4 and 1-2-3-4, etc. Or you can count 3 pedals strokes on one side, then switch sides and count 3 on the other side, etc.
Sitting: Some riders will be more efficient at climbing in the saddle and others standing, out of the saddle. For the most part though, longer climbs are most efficiently climbed sitting down. Climbing in the saddle generally conserves energy, whereas out of the saddle causes an increase in heart rate and an increase in muscle fatigue. Body Position: The upper body should be relaxed, yet still (not rocking side-to-side). Have a soft grip on the handlebars and loose elbows that are slightly bent. Keep your head high and look where you are going. Open your chest and refrain from hunching over and putting weight on the front wheel.
Standing: I like to stand to give myself a change of position, to give my back a rest, stretch my legs, or to get up a steeper pitch of the climb. If you are standing up to give yourself a change of position, I recommend shifting to a harder gear first before you stand up. That way you’re not spinning in too easy of a gear (which is a quad burner when you’re standing). For standing the hand position is on the brake hoods. Rock your bike gently up to 4 inches side-to-side. As your right leg drives the pedal down, your left leg pulls up, and your right arm pulls gently up on the bars as the bike rocks to the left and your left arm straightens.
Want to be a better climber? You become a better climber by climbing more hills. Climbing uses your muscles in a slightly different way. Practice, and practice some more.
Breakaway Coaching offers one-on-one sessions out on the road to practice the skills for braking, cornering, descending and climbing. To schedule..>>