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Old 07-19-07, 01:45 PM   #1
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Overcoming the newbie wobble

That sounds like a new dance, doesn't it? Hubby and I recently returned to cycling after a 20+ year layoff. We are both 50+. I am learning fast and having a blast. He's a better cyclist than I am.

I have a problem that I'm trying to overcome. I seem to wobble as I ride if I am not going fast enough. I ride a Giant Cypress SX, a hybrid. It's not the lightest bike in the world so it is hard to go fast enough all the time to eliminate the wobble. Just cruising around the neighborhood at a casual pace causes my bike to wobble. If I take my hand off the bars to wave at someone (which I frequently do... I'm a waver), it's hard to keep the bike from wobbling or hold it steady with my other hand.

Is this typical when first getting started? What can I do to improve in this area? Sometimes, I try to imagine a straight line painted in the road and to keep my tire on that imaginary line, but I can't concentrate on that all the time because there are other real dangers to focus on instead.

Is this something I will eventually outgrow? Do I need a lighter bike, stronger legs, more practice.... or what?
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Old 07-19-07, 01:55 PM   #2
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EVERYONE knows how to ride a bike, right? Well, that's what most folks think, including most folks who ride a bike. But, just as with shooting freethrows well, skiing well, or swimming well, practicing is the difference between be "sorta good" and really being skilled.

When my nephew was learning to ride a bike, we would go to large empty parking lots (a school on Sunday, or a church on Monday). We would practice riding a straight line, by tracking an inch to the left of a painted line. Practice riding in circles, including very small, tight circles. Practice riding full speed, and then braking to a stop in the shortest possible distance. Set up obstacle courses, etc.

Generally, most actions on a bike are easiest at moderate speeds (twice a brisk walking speed). After you become skilled going through your obstacle course, trying doing it at faster speeds. Then try doing it a very slow speeds.

Riding at very slow speeds (at the speed of a companion who is walking) is actually rather difficult. Several of the worst falls I've seen have happened when someone was riding too slow to maintain their balance. So, practice riding as slowly as possible. Learn to use one foot to stop a fall when you are going too slowly to continue balancing.

By practicing bike handling skills, you can quickly develop the ability to look at the road and put your bike PRECISELY where you want to be. But, practice in parking lots, not on busy roads where you are dodging day-dreaming cell phone dialing motorists.

If you spend just 30 minutes, two or three days each week, practicing riding skills, within a few weeks you will be a better rider than the majority of folks on the road.

Last edited by alanbikehouston; 07-19-07 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 07-19-07, 03:16 PM   #3
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Try having a "slow race" with anyone that will give it a try. Trackstanding will eventually result.
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Old 07-19-07, 03:48 PM   #4
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when looking at the road ahead of you, aim far, look where you're going. Don't point your head down to 1m(3ft) ahead of you, look at least 15m (50ft) and more like 30m(100ft).
Same rule with driving a car, aim high, you will find that you will go straighter.

oh, and it might be worth going to your Local Bike Shop to get a tune up or at least have your bike checked. Who knows, it might be misaligned wheel or an over tightened steerer.
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Old 07-19-07, 04:56 PM   #5
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speed is your friend, believe it or not. you need to build up some angular momentum in your wheels because it helps you to maintain your balance.
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Old 07-19-07, 05:45 PM   #6
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All of the above is great advice. Slow races helped me immensely, as well as practicing in parking lots. I had the benefit of cones on some occasions. If you can get a hold of some, they're a big help. Bricks can work, too.
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Old 07-19-07, 05:53 PM   #7
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Try bumping it up a rear cog or two (higher gear) so you are mashing more than spinning. You can go slow doing this, and it helps get more of your weight lower on the bike.
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Old 07-19-07, 06:09 PM   #8
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Don't hang onto the handlebars and pull with each pedal-stroke. Rest your hands on top of the bars with your fingers curled in and the fingernails resting on top of the bars. You'll find that you'll have a LOT LESS rocking and weaving motion. From this position, it's much easier to take one hand off the bar without disturbing the bike.

Also try to pedal with more even force all the way around the pedal. Lighten up on the upstroke leg and pull back when the pedal is at the bottom.
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Old 07-19-07, 06:24 PM   #9
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Your balance will get better with pracitce. That is all there is to it.
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Old 07-20-07, 11:36 AM   #10
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Make sure your saddle is set to the correct hight:not too low.
The bars should be set at around saddle height. Too high and you dont apply enough weight on the front end.
Make sure your gear is low enough, you should be spinning at 60-80 rpm.

Practice riding in big swoopy curves and gradually make them shorter and straighter.
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