I recently learned a lesson about movement while doing a team building exercise with some of our U.S. Para Cycling National Team athletes. We took a lesson in surfing, and what I learned was that surfing does not take place in the planes of movement and angles that I thought it did. This got me thinking and dissecting movement on the bike more and what I realized is that cycling is a sport of lateral motion. Maybe “lateral control” is a better term for how cyclists deal with the forces of physics while riding.
The forward motion of the bike is what keeps riders upright, however I feel that it is a riders ability to control the bike laterally that elevates their level of skill. Riders that can track stand endlessly, corner as if they are on rails, and surf the pack with ease, are considered by others to have high levels of skill and can utilize these skills to ride beyond their current fitness level. All of these skills require that an athlete’s body have awareness of and comfort in lateral movement planes.
A good time to work on your lateral bike movement now that the weather has warmed up is during your recovery rides. If you only have time for a very short recovery ride (less than 60 min) you can get the most out your time by getting on the rollers.
Sample recovery ride:
If you have a little more time and a nice day, consider talking a friend into doing a skills ride with you outside. This is something I have the resident Para Cyclists at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center do at least once a month. Not only do you get to improve your skills but you also get to feel like a kid again, playing on your bike.
Lastly, don’t let your level of experience stop you from working on lateral movement skills - it’s what the pros are doing when people think they are playing!
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