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Cycling is a fun activity to add to your routine. But do you know how to maintain speed control? Knowing how to ride a bike is one thing, but the ability to safely and comfortably share the road with other cyclists while maintaining control of the speed requires another level of skill. It is not a matter of whether you can apply brakes or stay on the bike—although they are essential to riding your bike.
The physical element of controlling speed goes beyond maintaining your balance. So what is speed control, and how do you achieve it as a cyclist? This article highlights what speed control is, benefits of maintaining control of your bike and tips for better managing speed control.
WHAT IS SPEED CONTROL?
Speed control is not simply slowing down, rather, it is an issue of timing, which is an essential skill that will allow you to bolster your psychological set and the capability of being in charge over your bike emotionally and physically. It is the ability of a cyclist to have control over the bike and terrain. This allows you to maintain your role as the driver instead of assuming the role of a passenger.
Understanding the application of speed control skills allows you to keep your thinking and seeing far ahead when riding, allowing you to ride the bike safely. It is essential as it helps you carry out unplanned, unconscious responses on the terrain. You will find the riding smoother and less of a battle. You’ll also be able to avoid panic-based reactions coupled with moments of disbelief that you made it or painful realizations that you are not the rider you thought you were.
Practice mastering speed control, but this takes patience. The more you polish and master the skills, the more you become the master of your bike, the terrain and trail ahead. Riding the bike is easy, but controlling speed is rather counterintuitive and difficult to get right. However, the skill is often overlooked.
Speed control needs the application of psychological and physical elements. If you do not apply these elements correctly, you will be more concerned of the “now,” leaving no time to think about what’s important and what’s next while riding.
It is all about being self-aware. The less you work on the elements that make up the whole, the more you won’t be able to use this skill appropriately. You will apply the skill wrongly. Instead of being driven by knowledge of what is right to do, you will find yourself reacting with fight-or-flight mode triggered by emotions rather than prior planning.
Clutching the brake as a last-ditched try of gaining control doesn’t make up for the skill of controlling speed, neither does letting go and believing something will save you. This is just panicking.
BENEFITS OF MAINTAINING CONTROL OVER YOUR BIKE
The following are the benefits of maintaining control of your bike:
YOU’LL USE UNDER-ROTATION BETTER
When you master controlling speed, you will use your mass as a driving force. Your mass will interact with your bike correctly, regardless of whether you are speeding up or decelerating. You won’t sit on the bike balancing precariously; rather you will use your mass to drive your bike. This is done by dropping your heels slightly, which is also reflected in the wrists.
With the hips slightly behind your feet, you will use your core mass to drive into and through the bike. When you use under-rotation, you’ll bring the legs into play and take some pressure off the hands. When speeding up or decelerating, you’ll know how to use the legs to provide more power than the arms, and you’ll keep your weight more centered and allow the bike to rotate independently of you.
YOU’LL USE BODY POSITION FOR EFFECTIVE CONTROL OF THE BIKE’S SPEED
The body position, just like under-rotation, plays a significant factor in effective speed control. When accelerating or braking, you and the bike will be subjected to forces, and skill will allow you to balance them. Here, you’ll be able to move the body independently of the bike. Besides, you’ll be able to balance momentum and gravity.
YOU’LL USE FOOTWORK EFFECTIVELY
When braking or accelerating, the feet are a vital point of contact as they balance the pedals whenever the gradient steepens. Therefore, the skill of speed control will allow you to use the feet in balancing the bike—even with rough terrain.
YOU’LL CAPITALIZE ON LOOKING AHEAD BETTER
The direction in which you’re looking affects speed and safety. Gaining the skill of controlling speed is vital to help you expect what lies ahead and be able to control the bike without panicking. This is important as if you see something late, you’ll have less time to react. If you anticipate obstructions early, you’ll be able to avoid them while you still have time.
BETTER ENERGY MANAGEMENT
Pumping into the bike to speed up when coupled with the application of brakes allows you to brake harder and faster, and you’ll be able to gain traction on soft and loose surfaces.
7 TIPS FOR BETTER MANAGING SPEED CONTROL
Here is a list of the tips we recommend to better manage speed control:
1. APPLY THE GOLDEN RULE OF CYCLING
Cycling is all about deriving fun. If it gets too serious, it may turn into a job, or you may lose the desire and interest to get out and ride. Although you may be the strongest cyclist, you’re not doing it right if you’re not having fun. At the end of the day, it is just riding a bike.
2. RIDE THE CORRECT AMOUNT FOR THE LEVEL OF CYCLIST YOU ANTICIPATE BEING
There are many types of disciplines of cycling and types of cyclists. Therefore, you need to know what type you would like to be. It also means getting an idea of the level of cycling you’d be interested in, and this will help you pick a training style. (If you’d like to be a pro, you need to be riding your bike a lot.)
3. GET THE BIKE FIT BY A PROFESSIONAL
The term, “professional” as used here, means someone knowledgeable about bikes. You do not want your bike to have issues when you’re out riding. A bike fit will ensure that the bike has been assembled correctly and has been adjusted to your size. Then, you will get to enjoy riding more. We recommend that you talk to someone who has had his or her bike fitted and find out who did it for them.
4. RIDE YOUR BIKE OFF-ROAD
Even if you don’t have a road bike, you can still ride off-road. This will help you master the control of the bicycle. You can be as fast as possible, but if you cannot negotiate corners or control your speed, your bike will drive you off course. When you drive off-road, you must be creative, and this makes it easy for you to maneuver and adapt to obstacles.
5. CLIMB HILLS FOR POWER
If you want to get stronger and get your speed control in order, climb hills. This increases your strength as you’ll use more power on the pedals. This will make you a better rider, and you’ll gain the stamina to ride longer.
6. KNOW HOW TO BRAKE
You must know how to use your front brake to control the bike’s speed. The front brake is more powerful than the rear. Try scooting back on the saddle when braking hard so that your weight rocks forward into the bike rather than forward and past the bike. Slowing your bike when entering corners then releasing the brakes when entering a turn allows you to corner faster and safer.
7. LOOK AHEAD
Always look ahead to know what’s coming so you have enough time to react. This is especially important when negotiating corners, where you need to look 5-10 meters ahead.
Speed control is an issue of timing and is the ability of a cyclist to have control over the bike and control over the terrain. It helps bikers see further ahead, allowing you to ride the bike safely and expect obstacles, allowing for planned responses on the terrain. If you have control over the bike’s speed, you will find the riding smoother, less of a battle and be able to avoid a panic-based reaction.
However, you must practice mastering speed control, which takes patience. There are many benefits of maintaining control over your bicycle. You’ll be able to use under-rotation better, use body position for effective control of the bike’s speed, use footwork, capitalize on looking ahead better and manage your energy better.
Tips for managing control of your bicycle include the application of the golden rule of cycling (have fun), riding the correct amount for the level of cyclist you anticipate being, getting the bike checked by a professional, riding your bike off-road, climbing hills for power, knowing how to brake and looking ahead.
We hope that this article has adequately addressed what speed control is, benefits of maintaining control of your bike and tips for better managing control of your speed.