As I work with new triathletes, one area that I find many are not comfortable in is bike handling skills. Confidence on the bike, however, is vital to your triathlon performance. You need to feel comfortable navigating obstacles, grabbing your water bottle, maintaining a tight line as you look over your shoulder, and slowing down to round a corner. To help develop these skills, here are a few simple drills that you can practice on your own, or even with a few friends to make them a little more fun.
1. Follow the Leader Drill
The first drill to try is Follow the Leader. This one can be really fun and can even be done with kids. One rider leads and the others follow around the parking lot or a dead-end street. Make sure to turn here and there, making it interesting along the way.
Pro tip: don’t keep a steady pace. One of the best ways to learn to handle your bike is to go as slowly as possible. So, the leader should sometimes speed up and then slow way down. Make sure you switch off and take turns being the leader. You can make this a bit more challenging by placing a few obstacles to navigate around, too.
2. No Hands Drill
Next, try the No Hands drill. Start by letting go with your left hand. If you can keep a straight line without swerving, then try letting go with your right hand next. Alternatively, you can practice looking back over your shoulder when you let go with one hand, then the other.
3. Ride the Line Drill
Another fun one is Ride the Line. You can do this in a parking lot using the parking lines, or you can find a less traveled street that has a white line. Stay right on the line and go as slowly as possible. This will help you learn not to wobble at slow speeds.
4. Ankle Grab Drill
And finally, the Ankle/Leg Grab. As you pedal, reach down with your right hand and touch your knee. Then repeat on the left. Next, reach with your right hand and grab your calf. Try to pedal a few strokes while touching your calf. Repeat on the left side. Finally, see if you can do it on each side while touching your ankle.
These drills may seem very simple, but they’re a surefire way to get you more comfortable and confident on your bike. Keep practicing them until you feel good about them. Once you have mastered these skills, it will be a piece of cake to grab your water bottle and drink while you are riding. You will be able to maneuver your bike around obstacles when needed. Looking back at the competition as you fly by will be a piece of cake!