Skills, glorious skills! The skills that see us safely on our way. Zipping through the streets and nipping through the peloton.
Why do we need bike handling skills?
If you think about it, everything we do on a bike involves skills. It takes skills just to balance yourself on a bike. Having the ability to perform more skills on a bike will only aid you and everyone around.
Slow skills are especially important when riding in traffic or racing. Being able to balance your bike at slow speeds without wobbling, or squeezing through narrow gaps can be incredibly beneficial.
Indicating to turn, while gradually slowing down in the middle of the road, is important to be able to do without wobbling. Wobbling will unnerve you, any riders on your wheel and the drivers around you.
One of the most important skills on a bike is being able to look over your shoulder without deviating from your line. This allows you to check safely for oncoming vehicles and riders behind.
Important road skills
- Signaling while balancing
- Being aware of your surroundings
- Slow handling skills
- Being able to look over your shoulder safely
- Ride through narrow gaps without wobbling
- Riding in a group safely
- Knowing the road rules
- Cornering smoothly and safely
- Descending confidently
Important Race skills
- All of the above
- Sprinting out of the saddle without deviating from your line
- Getting out of the saddle without losing balance
- Riding out of the saddle in a smooth, coordinated manner
- Swinging up on the track safely
- Riding safely in a bunch
- Holding your line
- Choosing the correct line round a corner
You can learn these skills from various places and sessions. For road and race skills Coach Watto holds sessions in Regents Park on week mornings, clubs like Velociposse hold focused sessions on slow skills and Cycle Confident provides information to similar sessions around London.
If you’re part of a club, they’ll often hold sessions to help newer riders gain the skills required to partake in more sessions. If you’re not part of one, definitely consider it. Have a look at our club finder tool here.
Riding within a group of friends can assist your learning, they’ll be willing to help and not get annoyed at you and they’ll want to teach you more. Often, the best way to learn extra skills is by diving in the deep end and just doing them. After all, practice makes perfect.
You can also find a quiet car park, or tarmacked area with a more experienced friend and ask them to teach you bits. Put out cones to learn to corner – find your limits. Hire a circuit or velodrome to practice swinging up or signalling.
Check out our bikeability blog to find more links for learning basic skills on the bike. Everyone has to start somewhere and we want to encourage your growth. All of the skills you learn on the road are transferable to racing, cyclo-cross or track riding.
A confident cyclist is a happy and safe cyclist.