Balancing in Tight Curves

BikingAlison, our pro cycling coach, had set up 20 cones in the deserted parking lot. Twenty-two women showed up for the bicycle handling skills clinic. Zooming around cones? No problem. That’s what I thought.

Not so easy. Alison sent us off at 5-second intervals, way too short as some of us wobbled going uphill, missing cones left and right. Denise ran into the curb. Sara ended up on her gluteus maximus. Everyone was laughing. Patiently, Alison demonstrated light grip at the tops of the handlebars, leaning into the curves, opposite leg down, then switching. Just don’t think about it, I told myself. Right. Leg up? Leg down?

When it was my turn to try again, it really did help to look ahead. Still, I was intimidated by Alison’s watching my moves, speeding up beside me to remind me to move my head in the direction I wanted to go. “YES!! That’s it!” she exclaimed. Wow, did that sound good. But was I supposed to be down in the drops now, or where were my hands this time?

After I mastered all that, she upped the ante and had us stand and do it all again. Never am I going to be able to do that, I thought. Wrong. It was a lot easier. The bike was like a gyroscope under me, just a matter of getting the right speed. Confidence helped, too. With the sun coming out, we peeled off color-coordinated (some of us) layers, ready for the Figure 8 drill.

The what? Oh, like ice skating on the Mill Pond way back then. There were some near-misses, but many times around one way, then the other, resulted in smooth, swooping maneuvers. Didn’t put my foot down once…well, maybe twice.

So much fun, to be out together on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, leaning into the curves.

  • Anticipate the turns
  • Uphill isn’t always harder than downhill
  • Look ahead
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Small tweaks can make a big difference
  • Practice
  • Lighten up
  • Look over your shoulder; everything follows
  • Don’t be afraid to crush cones
  • Breathe through it
  • Listen to old messages and whoop out a new song