Welcome back to the Ride Don’t Hide Training Blog by Sugoi Performance Apparel!
In this week’s installment, I’m going to touch on a riding skill I have found to be really important and a few things to think about when riding in a group.
Tips for cycling down hills
One of the most important skills you should have as a cyclist to help ensure a safe ride is good descending skills; knowing how to ride your bike down a hill safely. I often see cyclists on a descent looking very stiff in their upper body, one foot will be at the top of the pedal stroke with one foot at the bottom and sometimes they’re even following extremely close behind another cyclist. These are all things that should be avoided as they increase the risk of an accident.
The first thing to think about when descending on your bike is having a safe amount of space around you, between yourself and other cyclists. It’s very important to have enough room to brake if someone has to make a sudden stop or slow down to avoid a hazard.
The next thing to think about is where all of your contact points are on your bike: your feet, your hands and your bottom. When descending I find the most secure and stable position to be in is to have my feet level on the pedals (at 3 and 9 o’clock) with my knees slightly bent, I’m not sitting on the saddle and my upper body is relaxed with slightly bent elbows with my hands in a position where I can grab the brakes if need be. The importance of being in the position I just described is that it’s a position that will allow you to easily absorb any bumps or make a quick maneuver on your bike if necessary. If you’re stiff with one leg up, one leg down and sitting in your saddle, chances are you’ll get knocked off your bike if you suddenly hit a pothole – and who wants that?
Employing these skills will help make you feel more confident in your descending which will lead to a more enjoyable riding experience.
Riding in groups
Next I want to touch on a few key things to think about when riding in a group.
One of the best parts of cycling is that it brings people together. I absolutely love spending a beautiful sunny day out on the road with a group of friends. We help push each other, encourage those that are having a rough day and always share some laughs. Having a group to ride with is also a great motivator to get out on the road and get your ride in even if you don’t feel like it – it creates some accountability to get your exercise in.
As fun as it is to ride in a group, it’s important to do it in a responsible way in order for everyone to have a safe ride.
Where you position yourself in the group is very important. On a road with a very wide shoulder, cyclists can ride side by side in pairs of two. If doing this it’s important to have your front wheel in alignment with the other cyclist’s front wheel. Accidents tend to happen when you’re slightly behind a cyclist but your front wheel is partly overlapping their rear wheel. If they don’t know you’re there and veer in your direction it could be disastrous.
If the shoulder isn’t wide I strongly recommend riding single file so that you are sharing enough of the road with traffic and other cyclists. This is also an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of drafting. Each cyclist on the road creates a draft behind them. When you ride in this draft area the energy it takes to maintain the same speed as them is reduced. If new to this I recommend leaving at least a 5 or 6 foot gap between your front wheel and their rear wheel. Also, I recommend letting them know that you are there so that they know to use their hand signals.
Know your hand signals
Hand signals are used for pointing out hazards, showing which way you are turning, when you are slowing down and so on. It’s important to know these signals even if you will not be riding in a group. I have included a link below that shows some of the most common signals that everyone should know and use when out on the roads.
This should give you some things to think about on your next few rides.
We’re only a little over a week away now from the BIG RIDE, I hope you’re all starting to feel more and more confident on your bikes as I know if you stick with it you’ll do great!
Training Plans – Week 6
Beginners – 10K/20K Rides
Workout 1: 20 – 30 Minute Easy Ride
Workout 2: 30 – 45 Minute Easy Long Ride
Things to think about:
This week think about how you position yourself when descending. Where are your contact points positioned and are you relaxed? Also take the time to review the cyclist hand signals and start employing them on your rides.
Intermediate and advanced riders – 60K Ride
Workout 1: 1 Hour Ride
Workout 2: 45 Minute Ride on hilly route
Workout 3: 1.5 Hour Easy Long Ride
Things to think about:
Workout 1: Start with a 20-minute easy warm up followed by four 5-minute sets: 4 minutes at a tempo pace with 1 minute easy. Tempo pace shouldn’t feel hard, it should be a moderate pace that is a bit uncomfortable. Finish with a 20-minute easy cool down.
Workout 2: This ride should be performed at an easy comfortable pace. Aim for your cadence to be between 80 – 90 RPMs and avoid grinding your gears on the climbs.
Workout 3: Again, use this as an opportunity to bring some fuel and food with you on the bike to experiment with. Nothing excessive, a sport drink, a bar or a gel would be enough. Also think about what supplies you have brought in case a mechanical issue occurs with your bike along the way.
Dylan Gleeson is a Sugoi Brand Champion from North Vancouver, BC. He is excited to host the Ride Don’t Hide Training Blog, where he will share training, nutrition and apparel tips with you leading up to the ride on June 22nd! Sugoi is the official apparel sponsor of Ride Don’t Hide.