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As athletes, professional or amateur, we spend so much time working on our physiological fitness capabilities and so little on skill development which can make a substantial difference to outcomes on race day.
Regardless of whether you’re a sprint or endurance athlete, in this blog we’re going to offer you 3 skill exercises to enhance your bike handling skills which will enable you to navigate yourself to winning positions in race scenarios.
3 Core Skills to Improve your Bunch & Sprint Racing Are:
Understanding where your centre of gravity is whilst navigating the banks of a velodrome is essential to staying upright, let alone, improving your tactical skills in race scenarios. The below image highlights how your centre of gravity shifts with varying speeds on the track.
As you ride fast, your centre of gravity shifts away...
In this short video, World Champion Kerrie Meares shares her tips on how to master the track stand!
Learning how to track stand will not only teach you how to stand still on the track, but it will also help develop your bike skills, and help you find where your centre of gravity is.
When you think about it, when you’re riding FAST around the track, your centre of gravity will move AWAY from the track to support the speed and force you’re generating on the bike.
But when you’re riding SLOW, in particular around the bends, your centre of gravity will lean TOWARDS the track, which is why knowing where your centre of gravity is, and relaxing with it and not fighting it on the bike, will help you with your bike skills and enable you to use your tactics more effectively.
For example, protecting your position from the back, forcing your opponent to the front, or drawing your opponent closer to the front position.
Standing starts - let’s admit it, they’re not as easy as they look!
Learning how to execute excellent standing starts time and time again takes a lot of practice.
In the process, it can get overwhelming and confusing at times, so simplifying the process is a key way to set yourself up for longer term starting success.
You only have to turn on the television and watch the time trial events at World Championships and Olympic games to see how in a matter of tenths and hundredths races are won and lost.
Efficiency and technique are combined with timing and momentum and if done correctly, will produce a fast force to propel the bike and rider forward.
Here are Kerrie Meares 4 fundamentals to standing start success.
We all know to go on zero right?
This is something that can be a challenge for many, especially with nerves at play and the distraction of a sometimes-hooting crowd.
False starts burn a lot of energy so it's best to get it right the first time.
One of the most daunting tasks that every track rider will face when attempting slow riding in the banks is confidently staying upright around the banks.
Most riders will maintain a fairly high cadence and speed when they first get on the track to avoid ‘slipping’ whilst keeping their nerves in check!
Even though riding efficiently and moderately fast around the track all the time assists with nerves and confidence, it’s not always the best strategy.
If you ride fast around the track all the time, it will affect your ability to conserve your energy. You'll end up...
a) riding too fast and tiring
b) getting too tense
c) affecting your ability to execute planned tactics (i.e. in the sprint or in slower bunch races where you might want to avoid being on the front).
So we're going to share with now, how to confidently become the master of ‘slow riding’ around the banks and offer you a few tips in doing so!
As a first...
We’ve all been there…
Bell rings ding ding ding, final lap...
...and you’re stuck, boxed in, and in the middle of the race field.
This is THE MOST common mistake of a guaranteed 1 in 10 riders.
Only 1 RIDER can win the race, so how do you make that rider you?
How do you avoid getting caught in places you definitely should not be with a lap to go?
In this blog, we’re going to talk race mistakes, and give you some tips on how to avoid them when you next line up on the start line.
The diagram we’ve drawn above highlights what happens when you ‘hit out’ too early as you’re approaching the finish of a race.
The type of rider that you are, will dictate just how far out the most optimal place to sprint or attack will be.
For example, if you’re a really 'explosive' type of rider, suited to very short high intensity sprints, then you’ll be wanting to leave your...
Spending hours and hours training, eating well, getting yourself mentally prepared, ensuring you’re injury free and strong, etc... etc... are all paramount to your cycling success.
BUT don’t forget a few of the one percenters that can make an enormous difference - simply by being aware of them when you are training and racing.
One of those ‘one percenters’ is the way in which you ride around the track.
This measurement line is the exact length of the track, it's the closest line to the bottom and is usually black in colour.
This is a really important tip to remember, particularly if you are riding timed events such as the individual pursuit, kilo, flying 200m, and team events.
If you’re riding above the black line you’re potentially travelling not just centimetres of extra distance, but METERS!!!
Think about it when considering...
So you’ve just bought a brand new set of rollers after reading just how beneficial they are in our previous blog on Why Learning How to Cycle on Rollers is SO IMPORTANT.
There’s nothing quite like being able to roll your legs, with limited resistance in between races or training efforts.
The rollers are a great tool for warm up, training and recovery.
Whilst they might seem like a fairly complicated task for a newbie, with practice it’s very achievable to ride the rollers.
Here's a quick video on how to master the rollers, and the step by step instructions are below.
To start with it is a good idea to find a friend to stand next to you who can hold onto your seat/bike for the first few times whilst you try out the rollers.
This can provide additional support with balance until you feel confident riding on your own or when you are comfortable pedaling whilst holding onto a wall/support independently.
But just a WARNING...
It’s actually quite difficult and can take a fair amount of time to learn to ride them extremely well (at least a few months of almost every day practice).
Despite this, they’re hands down one of the best pieces of equipment that you can buy that will assist with developing pedalling efficiency.
Why is pedalling efficiency so important?
Check out Kerrie Meare’s FREE video on ‘How to Ride Faster’ and you’ll learn just how important pedal efficiency is!
For those of you not familiar with the rollers and are thinking about giving it a try... we’d recommend you watch our athlete Yvette Waterfall’s homemade video on how she learnt to cycle on rollers.
Yvette is one of our Masters track riders and since learning to ride the rollers (and with a whole lot of training) has achieved gold medal podium performances on the track! You can watch her comical video here...
Whilst the human body is not very aerodynamic in it’s natural shape, many new technologies and position advancements have been developed over the years to reduce wind resistance in two ways:
It only takes for you to head out on the road bike into a head wind for you to experience the full effects of wind resistance.
To push through the barrier, which is simply a large mass of air, most cyclists will apply more force through the pedals and try and counteract the wind with force, as opposed to changing body position or equipment.
What makes wind resistance worse, is SPEED - the faster you travel, the more wind resistance you’ll experience, and the more effort that will be required to overcome it!
In Kerrie’s FREE video on ‘How to Ride...