11 Essential Cycling Skills Riders Need To Master

“It’s as easy as riding a bike.”

Since we were kids, it has been straightforward for all of us to comprehend the fundamentals of cycling. Stay upright and pedal forward. But just knowing this doesn’t make you an expert. You can gain a great deal of knowledge by learning various techniques associated with road cycling, which will make you a more accomplished cyclist.

A few of these abilities are simple, while others are more challenging. Acquiring proficiency in each of them will require time, patience, and dedication to practice. This is an excellent reason to go for a bike ride.

1. Braking

To begin, this may appear to be self-evident, though there is considerably more involved in braking than simply tugging the levers. Gaining knowledge of the mechanics of braking will give you greater assurance when riding downhill, navigating a bend or cycling with others.

The front brake on your bike is the main brake and is more powerful than the back one, which is used for slowing down. You should gradually apply your rear brake so that it can slow the bike down.

Shift your body to the rear of your bike, making sure your body is slightly off the back of the seat so that when the front brake is used, you won’t go flying over the handlebars.

2. Observing the road ahead

This ability will be beneficial for you when navigating around turns. Examine the street in front of you and spot any potential hazards. This may include holes in the road, motor oil, uneven surfaces, or the behaviour of other road users, including cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.

The more you bike, the more experienced you’ll become with predicting the behaviour of other drivers and recognizing how the terrain can affect your cycling. Mastering this will make your rides safer.

If you are going downhill in the mountains, flying like a bird, it can be helpful for you to look far beyond your present surroundings.

Examine the shape of the land to discover information about the upcoming road. If you notice the tree line sticking out in your line of sight while you’re driving, it is an indication that you are approaching a sharp bend.

3. Cornering

A lot of time can be wasted if you brake too aggressively at a corner. Be mindful of the first thing – it can be tricky to actually do – which is glancing out of the corner of the eye. Bicyclists frequently use this technique because usually, the direction in which their eyes are focused is where the bike will go.

Shift the majority of your body weight onto the outer leg to help maintain power, and use the inner arm to manoeuvre your direction. If a tighter turn is required, exert more pressure with the inner arm.

If you are biking with others, leave a little bit of space between you and the person in front of you, so that you can safely navigate any unexpected danger or sudden changes from the cyclist.

Applying the rear brake early on and leaning into the turn will let you capitalize on your forward movement and return to your friend’s side quickly.

Pay attention to the fact that in wet or slippery conditions, you need to make sure your bike is kept upright and your centre of gravity is near the middle of the bike.

Every time you slip up in a corner, you have to expend energy to regain your footing. One of the primary explanations for riders becoming separated from a group is due to lagging behind.

With all the periodic bursts of speed to stay in the same place, even the most talented cyclist gets exhausted eventually. To improve your cornering, read this in-depth article and remember the following:

  • Look through the corner to where you want to go. Your bike goes where your eyes go, so don’t look down at the wheel in front of you or at the pothole you want to miss.
  • Focus your weight or pressure on your outside foot (which should be pointed down) and inside arm. The pressure on the outside foot is your traction, and the pressure on the inside arm is the trajectory of the turn. If you need to reduce the radius of a turn (turn sharper), apply more pressure to the inside arm to tip the bike to the inside.
  • In a pack, it’s better to let a small gap open as you enter a corner than to let that gap open on the exit. In other words, if you float into the corner and maintain more momentum than the riders ahead of you, you’ll close the distance as you go through the turn and come out on the wheel and hopefully without as much need for a high-power acceleration.
  • If turns are wet, gravelly, or you’re on an unstable surface, keep the bike more upright. The more you learn, the further your centre of gravity moves away from the tyres’ contact patches. When traction is lower, you want to keep your centre of gravity closer to the midline.

4. Riding out of the saddle

Cycling is an enjoyable pastime, and when you stand up on the pedals while ascending, you can generate the most power possible while climbing or sprinting. Due to your body weight, it becomes possible to apply power to the pedals with more than just the strength of your legs.

Put yourself in a higher gear before increasing power to avoid spinning out (this happens more often during sprinting than ascending).

Place your hands on the handlebars or bars, then raise yourself off the seat. Employ your arms to push the bike from one side to the other.

Riding out of the saddle makes you stronger, although is less cost-effective. If it is possible, you should attempt to maintain your seat. It is better to shift to a lower, easier gear while seated on the bike than to strain to push a slightly tougher gear while standing up.

When riding your bike on wet terrain, it’s best to remain seated as much as possible as this helps to keep your centre of gravity closer to the rear wheel, reducing the chance of it slipping out.

5. Cycling in groups

Developing this capability will enable you to cycle longer distances as well as extend the positive social impact of biking. To become proficient at it, go out biking with a group of trustworthy people you know or with your biking companions and carefully start doing your ride nearer to each other.

Get the basics down, then begin to add hand signals and other rules of courtesy for when you ride in a group. This guide provides all the information necessary for you to safely cycle in a group, including instructions on proper etiquette and hand signals.

6. Drinking whilst cycling

Having the ability to ride a horse with only one hand is very advantageous, particularly when drinking on the move or demonstrating gesture cues.

Train on an empty street, accelerate and then slowly start to take your hands off the handlebars. As your assurance increases, slowly keep your hands away from the bars for increasingly longer durations.

Keep your eyes on the road and grab your bottle from its holder. Take it up to your mouth and drink. Maintain your focus forward when retrieving the bottle and placing it back in its cage. This will aid you with your upcoming abilities.

7. Eating whilst cycling

It is important to master the ability to eat while riding a bicycle since it can extend the length of the ride one can take before requiring a break to have a bite to eat.

It can be difficult to remain energized while riding a bike when it’s cold and hard to open your snack’s packaging while pedalling.

Many energy gels and similar products have packaging that can be opened with just your teeth, which is convenient.

Employ the same methodology as you would when imbibing; start by honing your skills on a tranquil and recognizable street. Bananas are nature’s handiest mid-ride snack; they are seemingly as perfect as you can get, and can even be opened with one hand and your teeth.

Here is one simple suggestion for getting an energy bar open. Remove the bar from your back pocket with one hand and smack it down against the middle of your handlebars.

This should provide adequate power for the rod to break through the wrapping and emerge from the other side. Continue your progress and have a bite of the bar.

8. Descending on a bicycle

Having an understanding of how to handle corners contributes greatly to the abilities necessary for successfully descending; the only difference is that the velocity is greater. Here’s a detailed article on descending. Going through sharp curves on a downhill trail is a skill that is particularly useful for descending.

It is important to not start too close to the corner and to do the majority of your braking before starting to turn in towards the inner part of the curve. A way to help build confidence for cyclists is to focus their vision on the path that lies ahead.

At 40mph you can travel the distance of a football field (100 yards) in 5.1 seconds. You have to decide the direction you are going to take well before you reach the corners, rocks, and potholes that are coming your way.

9. Moving up in a group

When it is time to progress in the cohort, it is difficult to squeeze between two members who are riding alongside each other with their shoulders touching. Moving away from the group and increasing speed while facing the wind takes a great deal of energy. Progressing in a diagonal direction is the most effective way to move ahead in the group.

To go across from one rider to another, you must position your bike handlebars in front of the cyclist who is adjacent to you. You can choose the direction your relationship takes by setting the boundaries before the other person does.

If there’s not enough space, guard your handlebars by keeping your elbow slightly out or create a bit of space with your shoulder. It is not the same thing as jabbing with your elbow or slamming a shoulder into the person who is cycling alongside you. Don’t do that.

You should never have to remove your grip from the bicycle handlebars while navigating a group of riders.

Moving someone with your hands is hazardous and indicates a lack of competency in trail riding. You should only ever place your hand on a rider’s shoulder or hip if it is necessary to stop them from falling or crashing.

10. Cycling in a pace line

A pace line that works together well is a prime example of collaboration, showing how a collective entity is more powerful than any one of its members alone. Here’s an entire article dedicated to pace line skills. The important things to keep in mind are:

  • When it’s your turn to pull, maintain the speed of the group. If you surge or slow down the effect intensifies as it travels back through the group.
  • You don’t have to pull for the same time as the rider before you. It’s better to take a shorter pull at the group’s speed than to slow down to take a long pull. Similarly, if you’re strong, take a long pull, not a faster pull.
  • Pull off into the wind. If the wind is coming from the left, the pace line rotates to the left (counterclockwise). Pull off to the right if the wind is coming from the right. In a double pace line (2×2), each rider pulls off to his/her respective side and the group rides up between them.
  • Save something to get back on. You’re going to have to accelerate to move from the recovery line to the pulling line, so don’t pull so hard that you have nothing left to get back on.

11. Cycling in an echelon

An ‘echelon’ is a formation of cyclists riding in a diagonal line to maximize the effectiveness of riding in a crosswind. Instead of forming a straight line, you should aim to create an angled pattern across the lane. The foremost cyclist is pedalling on the side from which the wind is blowing.

The capacity of riders in the diagonal paceline is limited by the width of the lane. The cyclists in the back are struggling to take advantage of an imaginary slipstream in the gutter or in the middle of the lane.

The preferable option is to set up a backup line after the primary one. When riding in a crosswind, veer away in the direction of the wind, and then swiftly move to the rear of the pack. Don’t dawdle out there in the wind.


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