Road riding – making improvements
Following on from the Darkside – who’s in thread, I said that I was lazy and slow. So how do you make improvements, obviously riding more is key but how do you go about improving your skills, technique and position on a road bike? I know there are MTB skills clinics but haven’t really heared of road ones.Posted 9 years ago
Freewheel skills are pretty much the same – get your feet behind the pedals with the cranks level – let the bike bump and buck under you (don’t press into the saddle) – ride on your feet, not your hands – keep your head up looking as far ahead as possible.
Cornering also the same – outside pedal down – think about getting your whole self around the corner, rather than pointing the bike and being a passenger on top of it – point your hips where you want to go – don’t look down.Posted 9 years agoultra torqueMember
depends on what you want to do – if you are racing (road or track) there may be some coaching sessions about but it would mainly consist of strategies to use rather than bike handling (your MTBing should have done this for you).
If it’s up improve your fitness/speed then there is lots of advice online / in books/ private coaching etc. You will find lots of different ideas
some advocate long steady rides over the winter to build up base fitness
some advocate weights to build up core strength
but then others will be against the above.
Most will agree that to go fast you will need to do some high intensity interval sessions and maybe sprint training if you wish to compete as most races here seem to end in sprint finishes rather than solo breakaways.
Easiest is to join a good club and go out with them.
Oh, it’s been shown that elite MTBers have the best pedalling technique so again MTBing should have you already spinning those pedals properly.Posted 9 years agoourmaninthenorthSubscriber
Oh, it’s been shown that elite MTBers have the best pedalling technique so again MTBing should have you already spinning those pedals properly.
Really? Rather than, say, a Six Day racer?
ultratorque broadly captures lots of the issues that are relevant to riding a road bike.
Which bit of riding do you wish to improve – technique or fitness?
What do you want to get out of your road riding?Posted 9 years agodirtygirlonabikeMember
I’ve only been road riding for around 18months but for the last year, have mainly just road ridden. I’d never been on a road bike before, so I found the first few rides pretty scary and daunting – couldn’t even take my hand off the bars to drink from my bottle! What I’ve found since then is:
To improve position on your bike, I’d recommend going to a bike shop that offer the bike fit service. I got both my road bikes set up for my position and its really comfy. They also dropped my bars lower than I probably would have done – and I can still go lower if I want to.
Skills/technique. The thing that brought my riding on lots was riding with other roadies and new routes. I got to ask them loads of questions, and they taught me the principles of through and off etc. I’m amazed at how much faster and how much energy you can save by riding in a pack. I don’t do it often enough to be 100% confident, but I’m happy enough doing this. It also boosted my confidence as I realised I was actually quite good on the road bike. I also stopped mtb’ing and concentrated on road riding/spinning/weights so I’m stronger and fitter and able to push myself more – but then this isn’t the most fun way to do things, and I’m quite focused as I’ve got a lot of sportives that I want to take part in this year. Time on the bike will help no end in terms of confidence, and let you know any areas you need to work on.
Things like descending on the drops I’ve learned to do for myself but it makes a huge difference to descending and the ability to brake and that’s equally more confidence, but I’m still rubbish on tight hairpin descents. It took me over a year to pluck up the courage to use the drops and I only did it because I was forced to – I went up hardknott pass in the lakes, and couldn’t slow do enough with my hands on the hoods on the way back down, and since then, if it’s a steep descent, I’ll use the drops.
Cross winds – I’ve found the best way to tackle these is to keep pedalling through the wind – I used to get blown around a lot, but keeping cadence consistent and riding in a good gear means I don’t get blown around so much. Learning not to panic when the winds whips you in the direction of traffic is also a good move.
Going out of your comfort zone. Not long after I’d got my road bike, I went to spain for a 2 week riding holiday. Riding on the road on the wrong side, combined with long steep descents freaked me out a lot (this was before I used the drops) But when I came back to my usual routes, everything seemed much easier and I was much more confident. It’s the same when I go to the lakes/different areas.
Working on cadence. I got a cadence addition to my hr monitor and use it all the time. When I first started road riding, my cadence was really slow. I’ve worked on this a lot and having a higher cadence has helped my riding.
Joining a beginners ride in your local road club may help.Posted 9 years ago
there are skills clinics, they’re called “chain gangs” and it’s quite a steep learning curve 😉 – if you join a friendly road club you’d get an easier introduction to road riding.Posted 9 years ago
a lot of MTB skills are directly transferrable although road riding requires different skills to save energy to how it can be done on an mtb.
ie. clever planning ahead, reading the terrain, good line choice, pumping and unweighting the bike and holding momentum will all allow you to get faster with less effort on an MTB. On a Road bike, reading the gradient, planning position in a bunch, paying attention to the wind, drafting efficiently and an efficient position (pedalling efficiency, aerodynamics and comfort) are more important.
I’m lazy both on MTB and road but can ‘blag’ my way round group rides very well in both with far fitter riders simply by using my head.
saying all that, if you don’t plan on riding in a bunch or competing in time trials there’s little point caring how efficient you are. christ for solo rides I wear baggies, a hoody and MTB spd shoes on my roadbike, I’d rather sacrifice a few minutes on a ride than look like a **** the second I step away from the bike.
Fitness is definately the number one priority, I hate the fact that I am always trailing behind. And better fitness will help me to enjoy being on the road bike. Additionally it will be nice to be fitter to benefit my mountain biking.
Technique is something that I lack – I don’t make effective use of the gears (i dont find this on my MTB) and it takes me too long to settle into a ride, therefore only enjoy the last third of it.Posted 9 years agomrsflashMember
2 things really helped me – 1) turbo trainer improved my fitness no end – and not just my fitness, it also gave my legs some power so that I could stay in the same gear up shorter climbs. 2) going to spain last year and doing loooong descents helped my skills no end. I hated them at the time, found them really scary (as dgoab says above) but when I came home, the hills here seemed a lot less frightening than they had been before I went.Posted 9 years agothisisnotaspoonMember
yup, best pedaling technique is amongst mtb’ers, mainly because we have to put an even power down otherwise out wheeel just spins in the mud/stones on climbs.
as for speed, 2 types of trainaing, long slow rides that leave you tired but not sore (builing up to 125% of your target distance) so a 100mile sportive in the summer means you should be riding 125 mile rides by the end of the winter. Then arround march-april you should drop the distance and up the intensity, start with a few tempo sessions (hill climbing/headwind with a lower cadence for 5 minutes) to build up muscle strength. Repeat that 3-4 times in an hours riding.
Then after a few weeks add in some sprint/interval trainaing.
Dont expect any results unless you:Posted 9 years ago
a)put a lot of effort into every ride (recovery rides excepted)
b)ride at least 4-5 times a week.MrSmithMember
Oh, it’s been shown that elite MTBers have the best pedalling technique so again MTBing should have you already spinning those pedals properly.
well if they are elite then most of their training will be done on the road, if you want to improve your cadence and souplesse then riding fixed on the track or road will do this. mashing a MTB will not.Posted 9 years agoMrSmithMember
but being smooth up a MTB climb to avoid wheelspin has nothing to do with riding on the flat or undulating road. if anything it’s the opposite, as on the MTB you are just dropping the power at the right moment to prevent slipping.
all elite riders spin at a higher cadence it’s more efficient, 90% of mtb’ers when riding along and up push to hard a gear.Posted 9 years ago
If you are waiting for the right moment to drop the power you aren’t doing it very well! Try developing a nice smooth circular pedal stroke so that there is no snatching or hot spots – then you can keep pedaling more of the time. Being smooth on an mtb has everything to do with riding on the road – if you work on it you can get power throughout the stroke, not just mashing downwards.
Cadence is another issue – it is easier and more desirable to spin faster on the road.Posted 9 years agoultra torqueMember
I suspose the biggest difference is riding close in a bunch – but skill wise it’s just riding consistently and the rest is just confidence and trust; trust your mates to not do stupid things and to warn of holes etc and have confidence in your bike (I guess coming from an MTB background a road bike might look flimsy and one might wonder how those skinny tyres can grip on corners)! But most of the MTBer I know who also road race laugh at the ‘bike handling skills’ required for road racing. Obviously there are different rules, strategies and etiqutte to be learned.Posted 9 years agoac282Member
I’m pretty sure the idea that mtbers have the best stroke comes from a stduy that Chris Carmichel references in one of his books. The study found that mtbers were most effective at putting power down all through the stroke. He suggests that this is in order to avoid spinning out on loose climbs. Whether the is is the best technique for road use debatable. I don’t think any top roadies have been found to apply power on the upstroke in steady state riding. (This makes sense as hip flexors are relatively weak muscles).
If you want to develop this aspect of pedalling/improve co-ordination then power cranks are probably the best bet but they are very expensive and very hard work.
Some coaches don’t think riding fixed is necessarily any good for dedveloping a smooth application of power as your legs get pushed throgh any dead spots by the cranks so there is little need to develop co-ordination for yourself.
BTW All this stuff makes my head hurt. I just ride.Posted 9 years ago
Are you quite sure MTBers have the best pedalling technique?
I’d have thought the top BMX racers were far more efficient, they ride clipped in, 100% stood up, massively explosive power and acceleration, incredibly fast cadence, never wheel spin and manage to get the power down in technically challenging situations (making a pass, landing a large jump and out of corners.
would have put track cyclists before MTBers too.
Oh, and not spinning out on loose/slippy/technical climbs has as much if not more to do with correct weight shift than pedalling technique.Posted 9 years agocoffeekingMember
I’d say the majority of MTBers have aweful pedalling technique, me included.
BMXers would struggle to slip in most situations, the majority of the riding they do is flowing from one place to another, often on slick-type tyres that grip concrete/ramps very well. Track cyclists, I would suggest, dont have to deal with slip either (gearing is way too tall) but probably have the best near-constant-speed technique. MTBers generally have to deal with very changing requirements but thats just the ability to switch, not perfect technique in each type?Posted 9 years agoEd2001Member
IMO the best way to improve your riding is to ride with others preferably by joining a good club where people will be happy to advise on all the things you have asked about. If your not used to it you should also see a big improvements in fitness. Riding with others is fun and a very important skill which will help if you decide to race or do sportives, you see many riders at sportives who clearly havent a clue, which is nerve wracking for them and dangerous for the rest of us.Posted 9 years agoac282Member
I’m not saying that mtbers are more efficient, just that the elite xc racers tested in the study applied torque more evenly around the the whole stroke. I assume the reason that roadies don’t do this so much is that they don’t need to. It doesn’t make XC racers better but the is probably where the idea comes from.Posted 9 years agothisisnotaspoonMember
not sure sportives can be a great cross section of roadies, did the southern sportive at the end of the summer and ended it doing all the work for a group of about 20 roadies on bikes costing 10x what mine did.
Bear in mind since coming back from a knee opperation i had done a weeekends training in the Peaks to get some climbing fitness, followed by about 3x a week for 1hour after work for a few weeks. So wasn’t exactly “fit”.
Ok, to clarify the MTBers pedal smoother, we’re talking sat down (standing up will never be smooth). It was scientifficaly tested (I’ve read the journal) and compared roadies from different track, road and off-road disciplines.
And “perfect circles” is a myth, its more like 80% pushing down, 7.5% top and bottom, and 5% pulling up (measured in the same article). The trick is to ballance the force through both legs so your keeping a constant tension in the chain. I.e. when one legs resting the other pushes, and both push/pull at TDC/BDC. But be carefull you can do some serious injuries trying to realy push/pull at TDC/BDC.Posted 9 years agoourmaninthenorthSubscriber
Domino – advice from DGOAB and mrsflash are best.
It’s about gradual improvements, and riding in a group is great for learning from others.
Not all road clubs are unfriendly, or treat every ride as a race, and increasingly cater to those who are new to road riding. Seek out a friendly one in your area, and see what they do in terms of weekend club runs (sociable rides, often including cafe stop and generally taking the p*ss out of each other – funnily enough, just like riding MTBs!). Then, join in and learn loads from people who’ve been riding road bikes for years.
Fitness will come steadily, especially as you increasingly spend more time in the saddle. Speed comes on the back of fitness – it is a function of the amount of power you can sustain. But don’t worry about that now.
Just enjoy covering the miles now, and it will all improve!
Oh, and on the pedalling point – I have been much smoother and more efficient this week after spending 5 hours at the track (riding fixed, natch) at the weekeknd.Posted 9 years agosofatesterMember
Also have a think about what kind of rider you want to be. Cafe stop king? Or racing snake?Posted 9 years ago
On the subject of pedalling smoothness, Matt Hart from Torq tells a story where he and a roadie mate were riding up a road climb when it changed to a rocky trail, whereupon Matt pulled away easily. The roadie commented when they reached the top that Matt really put the hammers down on the off-road, but having a power meter Matt recorded exactly the same power on the trail as on the road. It was all down to pedalling smoothness and technique.Posted 9 years ago
The topic ‘Road riding – making improvements’ is closed to new replies.