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Old 10-13-07, 08:49 AM   #1
pengyou
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Really low speed (in the parking lot) cycling

I am not an expert cyclist but I can get from point a to point b. There is one issue I would like some help with. When I am cycling really slowly...hoping to keep going at a snails pace while waiting for a light to change or while a car is crossing in front of me...about 1 mph, maybe, it is hard to keep the front wheel going straight. I have a tendency to swerve the bike left and right to keep balance. This actually presents some dangers in some situations, for example, when I am stopped waiting for a light to change, the light changes, I begin to cycle, but someone comes from behind me at full speed and tries to pass me and the fork of my bike is all of a sudden in part of his lane...

Any suggestions or comments?
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Old 10-13-07, 09:03 AM   #2
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I'm no expert, but when ever I come into a situation like that I do the following:

1. Un-clip my shoe or take my foot off the pedal.
2. Get my body low to the ground, so I can keep my balance better. I'll usually put my foot close to the ground, so I can catch myself if I start to fall
3. Put my hands into the position that's the widest, for best stability.

Works for me, but someone else will prolly have something better to say.
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Old 10-13-07, 09:10 AM   #3
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Practice riding very slowly. Learn to use your upper body to control and maintain balance. I've never measured, but I think I can ride at a steady 1/30th mph or so. That's about 2.5 in/s.
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Old 10-13-07, 09:35 AM   #4
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Trackstand if its only for a few seconds. Otherwise, learn to dismount and mount quickly, an invaluable skill for riding in traffic.
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Old 10-13-07, 10:41 AM   #5
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Practice riding very slowly. Learn to use your upper body to control and maintain balance. I've never measured, but I think I can ride at a steady 1/30th mph or so. That's about 2.5 in/s.
Thanks! Can you say more about "learning to use y our upper body to control and maintain balance"? Is this a function of body strength? Can anyone recommend any exercises they do to help with this?
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Old 10-13-07, 11:18 AM   #6
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Thanks! Can you say more about "learning to use y our upper body to control and maintain balance"? Is this a function of body strength? Can anyone recommend any exercises they do to help with this?
Just practice riding slower and slower and slower. Strength has nothing to do with it.
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Old 10-13-07, 02:10 PM   #7
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Trackstand if its only for a few seconds. Otherwise, learn to dismount and mount quickly, an invaluable skill for riding in traffic.
Another skill to master is the art of anticipating traffic lights. It's not that difficult with some practice, and if you're ready to react the instant the light changes, you'll probably be a couple of seconds ahead of the motorists.
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Old 10-13-07, 04:34 PM   #8
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Trackstands and riding very slowly are dependent on balance, not strength, as stated above. You can develop balance by doing activities that require balance. Like, riding very slowly. I spent today riding 50 very hilly miles of the Hilly Hundred in southern Indiana. Much of my uphill riding was in the 3-5 mph range. (This was on a recumbent.) Certainly must have improved my balance skills a little bit today.
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Old 10-13-07, 09:34 PM   #9
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Thanks! BTW, what is trackstand?
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Old 10-13-07, 09:39 PM   #10
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Thanks! BTW, what is trackstand?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ4oI...elated&search=
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Old 10-13-07, 10:44 PM   #11
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He makes it look too easy though.
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Old 10-13-07, 11:06 PM   #12
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Awesome...my hero!!
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Old 10-14-07, 03:48 AM   #13
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don't balance with wheels, balance with your body. Just practice controlling your centre of gravity. Get up out of your saddle as well as this will help in the early stages where your control is a bit more erratic.
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Old 10-14-07, 07:07 AM   #14
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To practice a trackstand, try this:

Going upwards on a slight incline, stop, and then coast backwards.

Forwards, backwards, forwards...you get the idea.

I have found this easiest to do on my folding bike (20" wheel), then MTB (26" wheel). It was most challenging on my tourer (27", RIP).

Eventually, you can come to a dead stop and stay put.
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Old 10-16-07, 12:04 AM   #15
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Practice. I couldn't do this 6 weeks ago. But commuting has forced me to be better at this for more speed and efficiency. Just practice and put it into effect whenever you can.
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Old 10-16-07, 05:26 AM   #16
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The reason why you find your front wheel going left and right is that is how you balance - it's an exaggerated version of what you do when you're riding along. A study showed that once you lock a bike's steering, it's virtually impossible to ride. Other factors, especially reduced gyro effects (tiny wheels), made for awkward but rideable bikes.

For your scenario of waiting at a light while being courteous to those that might be passing you (commendable trait, imo), I see a few possibilities on how to approach it:
1. Track stand - effectively you'll be putting your wheel in a turned position to begin with - so you sort of claim your lane before someone inadvertently takes it. However, you will move back and forth when doing this.

On how to trackstand:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...ackstands.html

2. Put your foot down - it's been long recommended to racers that they unclip and put a foot down at every stop sign and traffic light. It gets them used to clipping in under pressure (like at the start of a race) without thinking too much about it. (It also gets pesky racers to stop at legal stops instead of blowing through them and earning the wrath of various other road users). You'll find within 20 repetitions of clipping in that it becomes more second nature to you. If you're currently uncomfortable clipping in during stressful situations, practice first while stationary (repeat 10 more times after you think you have it), then practice in a quiet place (driveway, quiet street, empty parking lot). Your confidence and technique will both greatly improve. I'd recommend trying to clip in when the unclipped pedal is at the bottom of the pedal stroke - engage the pedal at a higher position, pedal it down, then press to engage (this for most normal pedals).

3. Lean on something. Not a car but perhaps a close sign post or something to that effect. You move the least using this method and naturally move to the curb, moving yourself out of the "travel" lane.

4. Time the lights - keep an eye out for the other light turning yellow so you can cruise through a just-turned-green.

hope this helps
cdr
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Old 10-16-07, 07:06 AM   #17
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One interesting difference for some, like me, is that most streets and roads here are flat, and have no or almost no "crown", as the article calls it. Streets are usually completely flat in cross section. The difference in height between the centre line and the edge is probably no more than an inch or two, if anything at all.
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Old 10-16-07, 12:36 PM   #18
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Riding very slowly does reveal the mechanics of riding.
You steer by balance and balance by steering.
You never travel in a straight line but in a series of curves. A series of large diameter curves appear straight.
As you start off, you usually swerve out a little, you have to ensure that the car behind does not try to take your roadspace. Stopping further out from the gutter usually works as does some eye contact.
Starting off is usually considered so trivial that no-one mentions it but Sheldon has a good primer on the easiest way.
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Old 10-16-07, 02:59 PM   #19
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Apply your front brake so that you have to be pushing against the brake slightly.
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Old 10-16-07, 03:55 PM   #20
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a lot has to do with the angle and positioning of your arms. I used to keep a lot of weight on the handlebars, and my arms in a locked position and I had similar problems as you. A friend told me to keep my weight back on the saddle+pedals, and bend my arms slightly.

Also being in a easier gear helps me start back up again. When approaching a stoplight/sigh I will shift to an easier gear so that when I start back up it is not in need of extra force which can swerve my fork.
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Old 10-17-07, 11:45 AM   #21
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Fit Clipless pedals and ride slowly in traffic- You soon learn to trackstand.
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Old 10-19-07, 07:51 PM   #22
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Something I learned on dirt bikes (motorcycles) and it seems to apply to bicycles as well. Get off the seat! Stand up and it's much easier to control the bike a low speeds.

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Old 10-20-07, 07:21 AM   #23
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When you are stopped at a light, one foot is still engaged to the pedal and the other foot is on the ground. To gain additional stability, lean on the bike seat's nose. That is, press your back to the seat's nose. This way your weight is not 100% held up by one leg. Some of the weight is transferred to the seat which in turn is transferred to the bike which is stationary. This will work if you're squeezing on the brake lever.

When the light turns green, you now have a point to "push off".
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