The guys at GCN recently put out a fair video that has to do with fixing four bad habits that detract from one’s “pro” look on a bike. The video has nothing to do with the simple things that don’t matter, like “buy a better kit”. The tips in the video are simple, fairly obvious, and definitely wise to correct if you make those mistakes… Where I’ll diverge a bit is with the whole “pro” thing.
My friends, I’m pushing 50. Pro would have been long, long ago, had I even been into cycling. Not to mention, and this is the important part, you say “pro” and a fair group of cyclists get pissy, instantly. So where they say “pro”, let’s just say “comfortable and competent” and take the stringy upper body and ridiculous lower right out of the equation – because you’re not that anyway.
I can add a little bit to their video, as I had to deal with correcting one or two of those bad habits. First, was cadence. Spin too fast for your body to be still and you will look hilarious. On the other hand, try to push too big a gear at too slow a cadence and you’re going to look off as well (you’re also going to be working a lot harder than you have to – definitely harder than everyone else you’re riding with). Runners tend to be mashers with a slow cadence, and that’s what I was when I bought my first bike. On the trainer was where I learned to evolve from masher to cyclist and learning to cruise comfortably at a 90 rpm cadence was one of the best things I did for myself as a cyclist (if you don’t know why a 90 cadence is so important, I do explain that in great detail here).
Second was rocking the bike on a climb. There is a balance that has to be achieved here. The idea is, as they say in the video, is to be loose and relaxed. Too rigid and you waste energy and look like you have a stick where sticks don’t belong. Too loose and you look exceptionally goofy. There’s a balance and it’s closer to rigid than loose.
Those out of the way, the important part was how I chose to evolve into a comfortable and competent cyclist… most of my major gains in form were practiced on the trainer. While the trainer is thought of as horribly boring and terrible, it’s the best thing I’ve found for fixing form problems and locking in good habits.
As for riding in a group, that’ll be for another post – and it’s about that time. Happy cycling my friends.