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Old 03-20-10, 03:21 PM   #1
Walter
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Handling advice

I've been on a bike for a long time but I could use some advice for 2 situations. First is definitely race/pack riding related and the second is not but it's even more frustrating and I'm definitely willing to listen.

Essential introductory remark: I suffered a severe brachial plexus injury some time ago and my left arm is largely paralyzed. Many nerve and 1 muscle transplants have given me my left pectorals and bicep back but limited (very) triceps and I can really only curl my left fingers around the bar tops but no real grip. (A surgery scheduled for July might help with that).

So few if any of you can directly relate but you've got a lot of saddle time and perhaps some ideas I haven't thought of.

#1 While riding at a fast pace I have a hard time holding a line on "sweeping" right hand turns. In fact during a training race I went so wide I scared myself and dropped OTB on purpose. I would've been there anyways but I'd rather get beat if you follow me.

#2 I have a real hard time executing slow 180 degree turns within the space of a "normal" road. This is mental. I start the turn and then, as often as not, when I see the curve I either bail out of the turn or clip out. This situation is not the end of the world but it is extremely frustrating, especially when I remember how comfortable I was doing dumb stunts "back in the day."

Thoughts?
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Old 03-20-10, 03:34 PM   #2
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For sweeping right hand turns - it sounds like you'd have problems pulling back on the left side of your bars to initiate the turn - are you consciously pushing forward on your right bars instead?
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Old 03-20-10, 03:54 PM   #3
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For sweeping right hand turns - it sounds like you'd have problems pulling back on the left side of your bars to initiate the turn - are you consciously pushing forward on your right bars instead?
Hmmm. I haven't really analyzed the motion but now that you mention it with my weight distribution I could very well be.
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Old 03-20-10, 04:15 PM   #4
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For the 180 - try an empty parking lot to practice. 2 parking spaces is about the same width as the road but no curb or ditch to make you flustered.
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Old 03-20-10, 04:35 PM   #5
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Are you looking where you want to go, or where you're afraid of ending up? It's kind of instinctual to do the latter (fixating on the perceived danger, or something like that), but since you go where you look, you need to train yourself to look where you want to go, not where you want to avoid going. In a 180, your eyes need to follow a path that completes your u-turn, versus a path that leads you off the shoulder and into the dirt where you're afraid of ending up. Hope that helps.
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Old 03-20-10, 04:46 PM   #6
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someone will tell me i am wrong, but turns are about weight distribution, and weight distribution is about core strength. In THEORY, you should be able to ride through corners "no handed." I am not sure I would try this at race pace, but it might be something to work on - the ability to control the bike with your body, not with your arms. While it may feel weird, even practicing one handed turns may help. on the TT bike it took me a LOT of practice to really be able to bury myself into turns without changing my position, but it is really a function of core strength. Bottom line, as others have said - practice.

BTW, sorry to hear about the brachial plexopathy. Sucks big time and I am curious about your ability to shift. Regardless, core strength and balance work (either rollers or through practice), and you will find you will have an ability to go through corners
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Old 03-20-10, 04:48 PM   #7
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Make sure you keep the arms bent, too.

If you're subconsciously tensing your left arm, you may be applying a little pressure to the left bar, which would initiate a steering action that would cause you to go wide.

Keeping the arms bent and loose will make it less likely that you accidentally apply forward pressure to the bars.

+1 on the advice to look where you want to end up, especially in the 180. This means practically looking backwards over your shoulder as you initiate the turn.
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Old 03-20-10, 05:01 PM   #8
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Another vote for looking where you want to go.

I'm not trying to take away from your situation but I would bet a lot of this is mental. I'm still fairly new to the sport so I'm working on not bailing out on turns as well, but I find the moment I doubt myself is when I bail out. On a parallel note, I love descending and have no problems flying down hills when the conditions allow, but it took a little push mentally to get to that point.
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Old 03-20-10, 06:29 PM   #9
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What Doc O Donnell said. Also, your right wrist strength is critical, I suspect, to maintaining good control of the bars under effort. This can lead to "locking up" and that's not good - it keeps the bars from moving naturally and you can't dive in to a turn as much. Just my guess.

180s are tricky for everybody. There's a bit of "fall into it, use inertia to stand back up" that takes practice.
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Old 03-20-10, 06:30 PM   #10
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double post.
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Old 03-20-10, 06:50 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell View Post
someone will tell me i am wrong, but turns are about weight distribution
Yes. I used to teach motorcycle trials riding to beginners and that was one of the things that is hardest to learn... on a trials motorcycle you steer with your feet, by weighting the pegs. There's some arm motion but if you are doing the weight distribution right there's not much force involved. Most riders try to muscle the bars around, which doesn't work very well. (I did it when I started too).

The same is true of bicycles. But since they weigh a lot less most people can use bad technique forever and it'll never be a problem.

Walter, like the other posters said you have to look where you want to go. Looking at what you are trying to avoid is called "target fixation" in motorcycling, and if you do it you'll end up hitting stuff (usually only embarassing in trials, but can be dangerous on the street).

For the 180s, you need to plot the correct line through the turn. Many people don't turn in hard enough, so they have to tighten their turn in order to make it. This is called "early apexing" because your path is closest to the inside of the turn early on. Having to turn tighter as you go through the corner in order to make it is scary. So to prevent it, intentionally go a little deeper into the turn (like 2 or 3 feet) and turn very tight. If you turn tight enough you'll find that you're doing the 180 with room to spare and can ease up a bit.
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Old 03-20-10, 07:00 PM   #12
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For the 180 - try an empty parking lot to practice. 2 parking spaces is about the same width as the road but no curb or ditch to make you flustered.
Thanks mucho. That's why I posted here. Something simple I hadn't thought of. It's just so frustrating b/c this (the 180s) was something I never really even thought about for years. I just turned.

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someone will tell me i am wrong, but turns are about weight distribution, and weight distribution is about core strength. In THEORY, you should be able to ride through corners "no handed." I am not sure I would try this at race pace, but it might be something to work on - the ability to control the bike with your body, not with your arms. While it may feel weird, even practicing one handed turns may help. on the TT bike it took me a LOT of practice to really be able to bury myself into turns without changing my position, but it is really a function of core strength. Bottom line, as others have said - practice.
You and the others who talked about practice are dead on. I like what ElJamoquio said above about pushing with the right. Definitely something to check out starting tomorrow. I still can and do ride comfortably no handed so I'll start being more conscience of weight distribution.

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BTW, sorry to hear about the brachial plexopathy. Sucks big time and I am curious about your ability to shift. Regardless, core strength and balance work (either rollers or through practice), and you will find you will have an ability to go through corners
It does suck there's no getting around that. It's been a long time but motor nerve damage causes certain types of pain that never seems to go away. I use a right side Campy Ergo in conventional manner and a Kelly Take-Off on the right side of my bars lets me friction shift my FD. Brakes are coupled with a splitter from Quality Bike Products. I am more than willing to share ideas if you know someone who needs advice. Feel free to PM me.
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Old 03-20-10, 07:14 PM   #13
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What Doc O Donnell said. Also, your right wrist strength is critical, I suspect, to maintaining good control of the bars under effort. This can lead to "locking up" and that's not good - it keeps the bars from moving naturally and you can't dive in to a turn as much. Just my guess.
One thing I do have is a strong right arm. It's obvious I need to really watch my technique. You guys have given me some good stuff.

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The same is true of bicycles. But since they weigh a lot less most people can use bad technique forever and it'll never be a problem.


For the 180s, you need to plot the correct line through the turn. Many people don't turn in hard enough, so they have to tighten their turn in order to make it. This is called "early apexing" because your path is closest to the inside of the turn early on. Having to turn tighter as you go through the corner in order to make it is scary. So to prevent it, intentionally go a little deeper into the turn (like 2 or 3 feet) and turn very tight. If you turn tight enough you'll find that you're doing the 180 with room to spare and can ease up a bit.
That (the bad technique on bikes) is interesting and it may very well describe me. Prior to getting hurt I never had a problem cornering and never really studied technique. I did ride motorcycles and did pay attention to cornering skills then but I may have never "transferred" them to cycling. It appears I need to.

Of course it was getting knocked off a motorcycle that put me in this situation but that was getting rear-ended on I-95, not cornering.

I like your description of turning 180.
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Old 03-20-10, 07:14 PM   #14
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Old 03-20-10, 10:30 PM   #15
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you can countersteer in either direction with one hand.
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Old 03-21-10, 08:04 AM   #16
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There was that picture of the one-armed guy in the crit the other day.
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Old 03-21-10, 01:30 PM   #17
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There was that picture of the one-armed guy in the crit the other day.
I was JUST thinking about that.
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Old 03-21-10, 04:26 PM   #18
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In THEORY, you should be able to ride through corners "no handed." I am not sure I would try this at race pace, but it might be something to work on - the ability to control the bike with your body, not with your arms.
Never really thought of this as a drill, but sometimes when I'm just putzing around, cooling down, or a recovery ride, I'll ride no handed including around turns, even do a loop of a cul de sac, mostly just to play around.

This actually could be a drill to get the feel of turning the bike by weight distrubution, and angling the bike.

A little thigh pressure on the saddle and it's pretty easy to turn no hnaded.
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Old 03-24-10, 11:48 PM   #19
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Yeah, I do that too. When I'm riding home from work, on quiet neighborhood streets, obviously. It's the 8 year old in me, I guess, but it's just fun to see how far you can go no-handed.
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Old 03-25-10, 12:18 AM   #20
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Never really thought of this as a drill, but sometimes when I'm just putzing around, cooling down, or a recovery ride, I'll ride no handed including around turns, even do a loop of a cul de sac, mostly just to play around.

This actually could be a drill to get the feel of turning the bike by weight distrubution, and angling the bike.

A little thigh pressure on the saddle and it's pretty easy to turn no hnaded.
I often ride through my neighborhood no handed, once I turn off the main street. I have a sharp left then a sweeping right. It's kind of neat to do.
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Old 03-25-10, 07:11 AM   #21
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I often ride through my neighborhood no handed, once I turn off the main street. I have a sharp left then a sweeping right. It's kind of neat to do.
As an interesting drill, try grabbing your top tube with both hands. Locked elbows for best effect. It's an interesting study in stability, as you really only have your knees to shift weight around.

I was thinking it could make an interesting TT setup (bars attached to the frame) so you don't feed any nervous or twitchy input into the front wheel. Of course, it's probably a much bigger aerodynamic drag to be popping your knees to steer rather than some front tire friction.

Anyway, it's a weird experience riding like that.
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Old 03-25-10, 10:06 AM   #22
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If anyone is looking to troll the road forum this would be a good topic. I guarantee you there would be some physics major who will insist that a bike cannot be turned without handlebar input.

(I can never remember the database numbers -- is this the 41 and that's the 33? or is it the other way around?)
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Old 03-25-10, 03:13 PM   #23
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I use a right side Campy Ergo in conventional manner and a Kelly Take-Off on the right side of my bars lets me friction shift my FD. Brakes are coupled with a splitter from Quality Bike Products. I am more than willing to share ideas if you know someone who needs advice. Feel free to PM me.
There was an article in Velonews the other day about a one-handed guy doing RAAM this year. He uses the shimano Di2 electronic shifting with both shift buttons on one side - an expensive solution, but seems like a good use of the technology that certainly hadn't occurred to me before reading this.

Last edited by forrest_m; 03-25-10 at 03:15 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-25-10, 03:18 PM   #24
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If anyone is looking to troll the road forum this would be a good topic. I guarantee you there would be some physics major who will insist that a bike cannot be turned without handlebar input.

(I can never remember the database numbers -- is this the 41 and that's the 33? or is it the other way around?)
This is the 33.
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Old 03-26-10, 11:04 PM   #25
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There was an article in Velonews the other day about a one-handed guy doing RAAM this year. He uses the shimano Di2 electronic shifting with both shift buttons on one side - an expensive solution, but seems like a good use of the technology that certainly hadn't occurred to me before reading this.
I have cerebral palsy and race with both shifters on the left. I use a bar end shifter for my RD. I also use a coupler to brake both wheels with a single lever. I have a dummy hood on the right side. As for balance. I just did a boatload of time on the rollers and learned to steer with my hips.
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