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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

The #1 Group Riding Skill

May 4, 2011

The most important skill a rider who participates in group ride must possess is: PREDICTABILITY.

Spring is here and with it the beginning of group rides. Cyclists have been cooped up all winter, riding spin bikes or trainers in basements. These bikes require no bike handling skills and the rider has no need to think about anything other than riding with the planned effort.

We then get outside and ride in a group setting. Riders bike handling skills are reduced from the long winter, fitness is likely not as good, yet the instinct to ride hard in the group is there. Add all these up and the risk of crashes and other incidents is high.

Predictability in the peloton is really nothing more than holding your line as much as possible, then making controlled changes and no abrupt movements. In addition, keep your eye on the road and call out holes and road debris well in advance so both you and the riders around you are prepared to move safely.

Practice riding a straight line on each of your individual training rides. The easiest way to do this is to ride the white line which separates the shoulder from the road. Obviously, this should be practiced on low traffic roads, all the while paying attention to vehicles coming up behind you and moving off to the shoulder smoothly.

If you don’t have access to a road that fits this criteria, simply ride on the shoulder, keeping your eyes well ahead of you and aiming for that area. This should be done while practicing on the white line as well. Focusing your eyes right in front of the bike forces abrupt movements, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Rather, focus 30-50 feet ahead and you’ll remain nice and smooth and on a great line.

There’s nothing more unnerving in a group ride than riding near somebody who’s unpredictable. This person is not welcome in the group and won’t be invited back. Don’t be this person. Practice your riding skills, be smooth and controlled, call out any changes.

Make your ride and the ride of the rest of the group fun and safe. Be predictable.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. In the meantime, GET OUT AND RIDE!

Bob McEnaney trains cyclists, triathletes and other endurance athletes through his company, Total Cycling Performance (www.totalcyclingperformance.com). Bob is also the head coach for Life Time Fitness cyclists and other athletes. He has coached and trained endurance athletes of all levels for over 20 years. Bob is certified as a professional Cycling coach through USA Cycling and a Triathlon coach through USA Triathlon. Bob lives in Woodbury and may be reached at Bob@totalcyclingperformance.com.

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What a Week of Racing!

June 24, 2010

Bob McEnaney, a Minneapolis-based cycling coach, contributor to the TRIA Orthopaedic Center blog and Nature Valley Grand Prix fan, has enjoyed another edition of the race. Here are his thoughts on the week that was:

The Nature Valley Grand Prix continued its tradition of delivering top notch racing and exciting action throughout each stage. Both the men’s and women’s races provided excitement to the large and appreciative crowds throughout the 5 days.

Watching each stage as I did (as well as being a rider host), I was impressed and amazed by the effort given by the riders, and their ability to bounce back the next day and do it all over again. We watch the Tour and the other major stage races on TV, but watching them live, up close and personal each day provides an insight that is impossible to pick up on TV, the computer or the magazines.

These riders are forced to ride hard every day, on challenging courses and in all weather conditions. They go back to their hotel or their host housing, recover, sleep and do it all again the next day at a different venue.

As a coach, I’m amazed at the fitness level of these riders. Their actual riding ability, including their bike handling skills is phenomenal. Their ability to generate huge amounts of power – again and again and again – is incredible. And one of the most amazing qualities I see is their ability to recover quickly.

Many cyclists can pull out a huge effort for a one day event. However, this huge energy expenditure can wipe them out for several days or more. So to see – first hand – these riders ability to bounce back is simply astounding.

These are exceptional athletes, there’s no question about this. We’re fortunate to have such a high quality and highly visible race in our own back yard. As cyclists, as athletes and as fans, we need to continue to embrace this race. We don’t know how lucky we are.

Congratulations to the race organizers. It’s difficult to imagine all that goes into putting on a world class event such as this. The number of details, questions, issues and complications they deal with on a daily basis, not only during the race, but the entire year leading up to the race is mind-boggling.

This was a fantastic race, as always. I’m already looking forward to the 2011 edition, and I hope you are as well!

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