Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Balance

Old 05-05-06, 08:52 AM
  #1  
loaf
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Balance

So I'm looking for ways to improve my balance on my bike (I probably won't be satisfied until I can sleep in a track stand, but we'll see when I get there) and aside from doing lots of trackstands (minus hands sometimes) and backwards circles, what else do you do to test/improve your balance? One thing I've tried is closing my eyes while in a trackstand.
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Old 05-05-06, 08:54 AM
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Are you saying you can do no-handed track stands and backwards circles?
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Old 05-05-06, 08:56 AM
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do yoga. ride your bike a lot. eat lots of vegetables, read good books and play the guitar. try and get laid. that's balance.
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Old 05-05-06, 08:59 AM
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Vote in your local elections.
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Old 05-05-06, 08:59 AM
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rollers
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Old 05-05-06, 09:02 AM
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i like to ride very slowly. after a long ride, or in the middle of one, i'll go into a parking lot and just do loops and figure 8s and slalom between things that i see in the pavement, and challenge myself to turn really tightly, really slowly, with a lot of control.
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Old 05-05-06, 09:15 AM
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A while back one of the bike mags had an article on a guy who trains bike cops in low speed control. His main drils were slow races (not really applicable on fixed, but riding a slow as you can while keeping smooth motion is good), and what he called cutting cones, which is basically riding up to a cone or other obstacle and turning around it such that it passes between the front and rear wheel. I think he could do like 6 of them lined up. We're talking foot high soccer practice cones here, not 3' tall road cones
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Old 05-05-06, 09:18 AM
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I can do no hander's for under a minute (probably less than 30 seconds) and I can get a backwards 360 on a good day. I'm just looking to push myself some more.

Anyone teach themsleves to trackstand with the wheel the other direction? (I always point my wheel to the right) I think I recall someone saying this totally messed up their trackstanding abilities, but that doesn't make sense to me. (can't find it by searching)
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Old 05-05-06, 09:35 AM
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I had a hard time trackstanding when I switched to clipless; losing the trackstand often means falling over. So rather than think I'm so good that I can do it clipped in, I unclip, rest my feet on top of the pedals while I trackstand, and then clip back in when I get going. eh.
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Old 05-05-06, 09:40 AM
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If you want ultimate balance and slow speed handling skills give mountain bike trials riding a shot.
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Old 05-05-06, 09:43 AM
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yeah, I've always been a bit curious about trials, I just have to get my mitts on a trials bike
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Old 05-05-06, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by loaf
Anyone teach themsleves to trackstand with the wheel the other direction?
I'm an ambi-stander. When I first started trying, I made sure to alternate between the two. I still default to wheel turned left, but I can go wheel right if need be. I can't go backwards for more than half a pedal rotation though.

I'd recommend no-handed trackstands while hopping the bike.
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Old 05-05-06, 10:16 AM
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Learn to trackstand on a freewheel. Learn it uphill, flat ground, and slight downhill bouncing off the front brake (you can get kind of a recoil effect by grabbing the front brake and rocking the bike a certain way). After I got good at that I think my balance in general was a lot better, not to mention the fact that trackstanding fixed is now pretty darn effortless.

Also one thing that's hard to do balance-wise is something a couple ex-BMXers I work with were trying to get me to do - turn your wheel 90 degrees, put a foot on the tire on either side of the fork (no hands as well) and try to stay balanced like that. This may not translate into any applicable skill on the street, but damn its hard.
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Old 05-05-06, 10:21 AM
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start mountain biking.
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Old 05-05-06, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ryan_c
This may not translate into any applicable skill on the street, but damn its hard.
while we're on that note, i started standing on the bike backwards and trackstanding holding onto the seat, now it's turned into no hands, but in essence i want to learn how to ride backwards. once again it has no practical use anywhere, but it's pretty fun
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Old 05-05-06, 10:30 AM
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unicycle.
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Old 05-05-06, 10:33 AM
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mmm yeah, gotta put that on the shopping list too
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Old 05-05-06, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by loaf
what else do you do to test/improve your balance?
surf.
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Old 05-05-06, 11:20 AM
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+1 if there's no ocean skating helps some too. go for surfing if you've got the choice though, it's also a great upper body workout. always be respectful of the locals.

EDIT: while some locals may not deserve much respect, people are very defensive of their spots. no point in gambling on getting beat up.
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Old 05-05-06, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtyphotons
do yoga. ride your bike a lot. eat lots of vegetables, read good books and play the guitar. try and get laid. that's balance.

Best advice yet!

~jg
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Old 05-05-06, 12:14 PM
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Balance Drills--Part Ten of Fixed Gear 101
by Greg Goode



More drills for the empty parking lot! Balance drills will open your balance and help you to learn trackstands (next section). Do them unclipped, or at least with the toestraps loose. You will find your balance stronger on one side than the other. When you do the following exercises, which side do you tip over on most of the time? That's your weaker side. You'll probably always have a weaker and a stronger side. But with practice, both sides will improve. Here are several things that should help that happen:

Ride as slowly as you can
Ride as slowly as you can without actually stopping. Racers in velodromes doing matched sprints will often do this. You will find yourself using the backpedaling pressure to control both speed and, to a lesser extent, balance.

Ride in very small circles
Ride in small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Sometimes the front wheel will seem like it's at right angles to the frame! Backpedaling pressure helps here too.

Hover before dismounting
When you intend to stop, bring the pedals to a complete halt at the 3 o'clock - 9 o'clock positions, and stay upright as long as you can. Try it standing on the pedals as well as seated. Comfort with this will help a great deal staying in the pedals at traffic lights and at ultra-low speeds.

Ride with no hands
You can use markings on the parking lot, or even set up empty plastic water bottles as markers. Try different combinations:
any which direction across the lot
large and small circles both directions
slaloms
figure eights--an old skaters' warmup, which improves both left and right sides.
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Old 05-05-06, 12:21 PM
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Oh yeah, and flatland BMX
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Old 05-05-06, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Landgolier
A while back one of the bike mags had an article on a guy who trains bike cops in low speed control. His main drils were slow races (not really applicable on fixed, but riding a slow as you can while keeping smooth motion is good), and what he called cutting cones, which is basically riding up to a cone or other obstacle and turning around it such that it passes between the front and rear wheel. I think he could do like 6 of them lined up. We're talking foot high soccer practice cones here, not 3' tall road cones
That was a great article. I wish I would have saved that issue. There was another good one about teaching yourself to crash in a recent MTB mag.
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Old 05-05-06, 01:32 PM
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cool thread, i need to practice more. I can trackstand for ages in a empty space or not so busy roads, but when i am in heavy traffic i can't. Weird! More practice i suppose.
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