Skills

Road cycling is a complex sport. Learning the skills of bike-handling, navigating the rules of pacelines, dealing with road hazards and difficult conditions, knowing when and how to use various riding techniques – all of these and more form the foundation on which roadies rely on every ride. And there’s always more to learn.

Don't 'Cheat' at Intersections

My buddy and I rolled up behind a line of cars waiting at the traffic light and dutifully took our spot in line behind about 10 cars awaiting the light change. Meanwhile, behind us a cycling couple pulled into a parking that is adjacent to the road and runs almost all the way to the intersection. We watched as they rolled through the parking lot, skirting the entire line of traffic, then rode on a sidewalk to the edge of a crosswalk at the intersection. It was one of those times when you just sit and watch as a fellow cyclist does something that makes you look bad by association. But it got worse. 

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Use Your "Air Brakes"

We all know that wind makes riding tough. If you're going 18 mph on a calm day and suddenly a 10-mph headwind cranks up, it takes considerably more effort to keep your speed. But sometimes wind resistance is useful. It can help you brake without touching the brake levers. Instead of braking, sit up higher so more air catches your torso. Usually, the higher you sit, the more your "body sail" catches the wind.

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Spit (and Blow) Politely!

Seems like we're all juicier on cold-weather rides. There's more need to expectorate and/or expel the contents of one's nasal passages. That's not a pretty picture, but it gets even uglier for the rider behind if you don't use proper technique. When spitting, you need to direct it downward with force. Otherwise, the wind could catch it and douse those to your rear.

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Look Over Your Shoulder Without Varying Your Line

I noticed something on a ride recently that I see all too frequently. Following a couple of cyclists today, it was hard to pass them since they kept swerving as they looked over their shoulder. I see this all the time; a cyclist looks over their left shoulder and their bicycle swerves to the left. It creates a dangerous situation for them, with all the trucks and cars on the streets. And it's dangerous to any fellow cyclists around them as well. Don't fret: There's an easy trick holding your line while looking back.

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How to Eat and Drink on the Bike

There are many advantages to being able to eat and drink on the move. It’s essential on long rides and a great timesaver compared to stopping. But it’s harder to do than it looks. Energy bars are tough to peel when pedaling along. Reaching for food makes the bike waver, and you find yourself needing to look down each time you want to grab a bottle. Putting it back is even trickier.

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How Can I Shift More Smoothly on Hills?

It's hilly on my home roads, and I struggle to ride efficiently. I usually shift to an easier gear at the bottom of a hill while I still have momentum. But if I need to shift again as the grade steepens and I'm mashing the pedals, the gear change is noisy and clunky. It makes my riding buddies cringe. How can I smooth things out?

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How to Hold Your Line

When you ride solo, wavering puts you at risk in traffic. With a companion, you can't ride side-by-side if you aren't steady and comfortable. And the fastest way to draw unwanted attention from experienced roadies is to wobble in the middle of a group. You can quickly improve your ability to ride a steady line. These tips will put you on the straight and narrow.

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What Emergency Rain Gear Should I Carry?

In the last month I’ve set a record, being caught in the rain on seven rides. I don't want to ride my fender bike and wear a rain jacket if the weather looks okay, but storms have been blowing in without warning. What non-bulky clothing can I carry in my jersey pockets for protection against these spring rains? 

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Happy (Cycling) Wife, Happy (Cycling) Life

I think we've all heard the old saying, Happy wife, happy life. It goes both ways, of course, and you don't have to be married to want to do what you can to please your significant other. If your spouse or partner doesn’t share your passion for cycling, it can cause some friction from time to time. But I’m sure there are many of you who wish your spouse or partner would share your love of cycling, for a variety of reasons – from mitigating that occasional "friction" to enhancing your relationship to paving the way for doing tours and cycling vacations together, and more.

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What to Do, Legally, If Hit by a Car

If you've been a roadie for any length of time, it's almost certain that you know someone who's been hit by a car while riding. It's the nightmare scenario for all of us who ride on the road, to be sure. And while we all do our best to ride safely, it's a potentiality that we really cannot afford to focus on. That said, have you ever thought seriously about what you should do, from a legal perspective, if it happens to you and you manage to avoid serious immediate injury?

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