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Old 03-27-10, 09:04 PM   #1
tigershark
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keeping the bike straight

Quick question, I did my first road race today and a friend of mine told me I was all over the place as far as riding in a straight line with the group went. He said had we been going faster and I was riding in the front I could have easily caused a wreck. We have a crit tomorrow and I would like to try to improve on this so I was wondering if you guys have any quick tips for this or if it just takes practice?

I hear you guys talking about rookie racers having trouble with this all the time and how they are dangerous so I want to try to prevent being the one causing a wreck.

Thanks
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Old 03-27-10, 09:09 PM   #2
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Ride some rollers. At least for me, helped my bike handling skills 100%+
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Old 03-27-10, 10:25 PM   #3
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Relax your elbows/upper body. Let the bike choose its own line.

When you look over your left shoulder, bend your right elbow. When you look over your right shoulder, bend your left elbow.

Try to not look over your shoulders. Instead, look back under your armpits or between your legs so you're seeing what's behind you upside-down. You really only care about someone's wheel if it's close enough to you to see it this way.

When you're riding alone, and it's not raining, try to ride on the white lines on the roadways without coming off.

Do more close-quarters, fast-paced group riding.

Oh, and did I mention to relax your elbows & upper body?
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Old 03-27-10, 11:04 PM   #4
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Rollers will definitely help, but not everyone has rollers.

For me, I find it easy to look ahead and not really think about holding a line. However when looking left or right I have to remind myself to stay straight, as it's natural for newer riders to go in the direction they look.

Try practicing riding on the white line or right next to it. Also keep your body relaxed, manly your hands and arms.
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Old 03-28-10, 04:28 AM   #5
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Few ideas pop in my head, as I wait for registration to open for a crit (Actually, I promote the thing and the guy that let us use his studio for registration isn't here yet).

1. A huge commendation to your teammate for saying something, and an equally huge one to you for asking for help. It takes a certain kind of personal characteristic to be able to accept (constructive) criticism. Of course, your teammate may have been absolutely petrified by your riding

2. When you want to ride straight, steer with your hips. Keep your arms pretty still. I had to really tense my core/torso to do this initially. After a few exhausting rides I rode a much straighter line.

3. Try not to steer with the bars.

4. Look ahead. Don't get fixated on the wheel in front of you. In a crit you'll learn the course quickly, but keep note of what's going on with the course. In the excitement you may forget basic things, like where Turn 3 is located (don't laugh but I've seen racers turn too early or miss a turn completely - and these are turns blocked by police, barricades, etc - they were so in the zone they didn't realize the course went elsewhere).

5. Don't swerve to avoid things like potholes. Cracks are okay, but you need to move the bike only, not you, and if you need to move more than, say 4-5 inches, you're moving a lot. You need to look up more.

If you end up going through a pothole unweight the bike, try to bunny hop if you can (if you can't don't try - you'll land your rear wheel on what you're trying to hop and you'll really dent it), but don't take out half the field to save a rim.

6. Follow other riders. Usually the tall, not super skinny (but not fat) guys are good wheels to follow. Figure 180-200 lbs. They don't like to use a lot of energy moving around, getting out of the saddle, sitting back in, etc. They're usually very, very good wheels.

Finally, if you feel like a YouTube clip, here is about my harshest one yet (as far as field riding goes):

Note the really smooth rider. You want to emulate him.

Hope this helps. You'll be fine based on your attitude. And the fact that you could stay in the race long enough to worry your teammate means you have some kind of motor.

Registration building open so I have to go.

cdr
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Old 03-28-10, 07:23 AM   #6
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In a word: relax.

Tension in your body goes straight into the bike.

Also: don't react to every little thing around you.
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Old 03-28-10, 07:58 AM   #7
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6. Follow other riders. Usually the tall, not super skinny (but not fat) guys are good wheels to follow. Figure 180-200 lbs. They don't like to use a lot of energy moving around, getting out of the saddle, sitting back in, etc. They're usually very, very good wheels.

cdr
dude, you're making this 6'4" 193 pounder blush. stop it!

hopefully we'll race together this season and you can enjoy what I hear is a desireable wheel.

thanks CDR as always for your informative posts.

-L
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Old 03-28-10, 08:01 AM   #8
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6. Follow other riders. Usually the tall, not super skinny (but not fat) guys are good wheels to follow. Figure 180-200 lbs. They don't like to use a lot of energy moving around, getting out of the saddle, sitting back in, etc. They're usually very, very good wheels.
over here, that's pretty much the only kind.
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Old 03-28-10, 10:18 AM   #9
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i have seen two kinds of squirrely riders:
1. group one seems to steer with each pedal stroke, and i'm sure it is a result of too much tension in their arms. these guys when seated still pull on each side of the bar with each stroke, as if they are out of the saddle climbing a hill, pulling on the bars (its just not as violent). they zig zag along esp. as they put in a harder effort, but they don't veer more than a foot off line.
2. group two is the more wayward veering folks, who don't have a steering input every stroke, but move in whatever direction their eyes are looking. they look back to the left or right and move that way without intending to. they tend to move a LOT when they move.

all the tips above will help you avoid being either of these types.
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Old 03-28-10, 11:28 AM   #10
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looking well ahead of you, sort of at the big picture of whats going on around you, rather than at the next wheel is a really good place to start
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Old 03-28-10, 05:58 PM   #11
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Can you ride no hands ? On a quiet stretch of road, practice riding no hands, and steering. Or in a quiet parking lot, ride no hands in figure eights. Then you have no choice but to steer with your body instead of your hands.
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Old 03-28-10, 06:07 PM   #12
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If only there were some sort of marker you could follow to practice this

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Old 03-28-10, 10:03 PM   #13
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+1 to everything mentioned.

I know your race was today, and this would not have helped anyway...but invest in a bike fit. I was not unsteady before my fit, but I noticed a huge improvement in my general stability which allows me to fit into tight places without causing problems.

In fact, one of my teammates recently got a fitting done and he is night and day better at holding a line.

...it is worth the $$$.
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Old 03-28-10, 11:27 PM   #14
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couple of weeks riding the rollers, and you'll be right as rain.
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Old 03-29-10, 07:08 AM   #15
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If only there were some sort of marker you could follow to practice this

Bad idea. Moss can grow in all kinds of crazy nonlinear patterns.
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Old 03-29-10, 07:09 AM   #16
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moss?

nothing grows on the road here.

one million cubic feet of salt every winter may have something to do with that.
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Old 03-29-10, 07:24 AM   #17
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moss?

nothing grows on the road here.

one million cubic feet of salt every winter may have something to do with that.
I was talking about your picture of the moss for the OP to follow...
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Old 03-29-10, 07:42 AM   #18
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um...

you don't see a picture of a white road stripe?
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Old 03-29-10, 07:59 AM   #19
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I think that was the joke...
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Old 03-29-10, 08:03 AM   #20
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mkay
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Old 03-29-10, 08:22 AM   #21
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mkay
<sigh>

Thump thump. Is this thing on?

<crickets>
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Old 03-29-10, 08:23 AM   #22
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..
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Old 03-30-10, 05:15 PM   #23
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OP, how'd it go?

I gotta say, relax the arms and shoulders is the big one. By far.

Also listen to cdr. I'm down to 170 lbs, but I'm tall on the bike. I hear I'm a good wheel, too
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Old 03-31-10, 08:27 PM   #24
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The crit went really well. The course was a 1 mile loop with two tough left turns. It was 30 minutes +3 laps. The race started and I stayed toward the back, a little unsure how fast everyone was going to take the tight turn. Good and bad idea to have stayed in the back. Good because two guys in the middle of the pack took the turn too fast and went down hard and I missed it, bad because I was split from the front pack of about 7 for the rest of the race. I stuck with 2 guys for most of the race so my poor handling skills weren't too big of an issue. I ended up finishing solo in 10th because one of the guys jumped with 4 laps to go and I figured he would die and I'd catch him with about 2 to go but he managed to keep his speed. I dropped the other guy who I was sort of working with. So I finished 10th of 25 for my first crit, with just about no training so I'm happy with that. I have another race I'm hoping to do this weekend except I'll be racing as a cat 5 instead of collegiate, which could be scary. Thanks for all the tips, I will definitely start trying to implement some of this stuff into my riding.
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Old 03-31-10, 10:01 PM   #25
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It gets better. Sounds like you had a reasonable race - stayed upright, worked hard.

Here's a Cat 4 race clip from a fellow BFer. There is some sketchiness during the race and a really bad (unsafe) move in the sprint. No one goes down but that rider pulled a real bonehead move. Don't do what that guy did.


cdr
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