Bike Skills

While the basic motor skill of riding a bike is not of an advanced nature, the skills related to riding on the roads, open or closed, are very important. For even greater detail on this subject visit The Ottawa Bicycle Club's education page or Can-Bike, an organization that educates the public on cycling skills.

Triathlon-related Skills

  1. Running with your bike. Keep the bike away from your body by extending your arm to the side. This prevents your legs from contacting the pedals.
  2. Mounting and Dismounting. Learn to do this from both sides of the bike and under a rushed atmosphere.
  3. U-Turns. Almost every triathlon has one so practice it again, under a rushed mind set and in both directions. Look ahead to the completion of the turn so the arch is even.
  4. Shoulder Checks. Before pulling out to pass someone you must do a left shoulder check to ensure the path is clear. You must then do a right shoulder check to ensure it is clear to pull back over to the right. Practice in a parking lot and try to maintain your line while doing the checks. The tendency is to steer slightly to the side you're looking.
  5. Drinking. You must drink from a bottle on the bike in a triathlon or risk dehydration and the dangers associated to that. Practice grabbing the bottle, drinking and returning it to the cage so you can do so easily in a race.

Parking Lot Practice

If you are relatively new to road and triathlon biking, or have just bought a new bike, I highly recommend visiting a local parking lot to practice your skills. Here are some drills you can do:

  • Slalom wide and then narrow using anything available like the parking lines
  • Braking. Do so with increasing quickness to simulate various situations.
  • Gear Changing. See how smoothly and quickly you can change gears.
  • From above: shoulder checks, u-turns, mount/dismount, running with bike.

Road Skills

  • Always carry a tool kit, cell phone and identification
  • Obey the traffic laws, always signal
  • Ride predictably (avoid weaving) and defensively.
  • If a manoeuvre is dependant upon a particular vehicle, make eye contact with the driver before committing to the move.
  • Look ahead for obstacles, anticipate the road ahead.
  • You may ride 1m from curb legally; this keeps you clear of drains and refuse.
  • When making a left turn, position yourself in the middle of turn lane
  • Take care when passing slowed traffic on right - they don't expect you to be there.
  • Have your hands near brake levers if there is any possibility of having to stop.
  • Aero bars should only be used on long and clear stretches, never near intersections or anywhere the possibility of braking exists.
  • When approaching a parked car look through the rear window to see if there are any passengers inside who may open a door.
  • Cross rail tracks and grates with care, angling your approach if required.

Riding with a Group

  • Be aware of all surroundings and share non-obvious info with group
  • Consider yourselves to be more of a team than a group, work together
  • Know your average speed for the distance of the ride so you can match up appropriately with others.
  • 6 to 12 is the ideal number for a group; smaller for less experienced riders.
  • Hands must be near brakes whenever in pack, no aerobars
  • Call out non-obvious risks such as parked cars, cars at stop signs ahead, when group is slowing/stopping/turning
  • Point out and call out obstacles such as pot holes, glass that are best avoided
  • Make small moves to avoid obstacles, sudden/dramatic weaving is dangerous
  • Front riders must be aware of back riders on hills, stop signs; keep the group together
  • Don't take the lead/pull unless offered it but do share the work.
  • If you are going to drop off back of group tell them so they know and don't worry.