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I can't ride a bike

HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
I've had loads of practice as a bicycle delivery boy, riding in a tight bunch and squeezing through stupidly narrow gaps, except it was cars and buses rather than other riders. I did as many bunch rides as I could with actual cyclists before I started racing and felt confident riding fast in a bunch. But right now I feel like some sort of triathlete. No offence to triathletes but my bike handling is terrible.

I don't know how I haven't crashed yet - I almost took out one of my club mates earlier in the year when due to nervousness I just lost concentration, went too fast into a corner and almost forgot to turn. And I feel like my riding is really sketchy, especially cornering. And I wobble side to side sometimes when I pedal steadily (e.g. trying to accelerate into a gap between two riders). And.... if I look over my left shoulder and someone appears next to me, because of the surprise of it, I sometimes suddenly drift over to the right unintentionally. It's a bit of a panic reflex. This has happened a few times recently and to be honest I think I'm gonna kill somebody one day if I don't sort it out... To protect other riders, should I quit racing until I can ride a bike properly?
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  • estampidaestampida Posts: 1,008
    this is roadie stuff right

    you need to get back that faith that the bike can lean and turn a bike at close quaters and what not ( had a big crash??)

    best bet is to take it back a few steps, get you hands on a bmx and some body armour and get used to how far you can realy lean a bike over, remeber that steering stiffens abit the faster you go, but get used to carving the bike to maintain forward motion.

    then look at whats the score on a 29" (could just be tyres and really bad spoke tesnion that causes the main part of the fright)

    but you need to know that you can turn and then you will
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    Herbsman wrote:
    To protect other riders, should I quit racing until I can ride a bike properly?

    YES
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    estampida wrote:
    this is roadie stuff right

    you need to get back that faith that the bike can lean and turn a bike at close quaters and what not ( had a big crash??)

    best bet is to take it back a few steps, get you hands on a bmx and some body armour and get used to how far you can realy lean a bike over, remeber that steering stiffens abit the faster you go, but get used to carving the bike to maintain forward motion.

    then look at whats the score on a 29" (could just be tyres and really bad spoke tesnion that causes the main part of the fright)

    but you need to know that you can turn and then you will

    Funny you should mention bmx - I rode one for 13 years before MTBing for a few years then getting into road riding

    I don't know how sketchy I actually am without watching myself ride. Maybe I'm just being paranoid and lacking confidence, but there are a few things that really need ironing out....
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,026
    If you can't master the art of bike handling in competition, then dont.
    You will be the cause of accident.
    'Immature' riding caused an off at Oulton Park last night - where things like that shouldnt happen. (thats another argument against day licences)
    If it happened in a road race with street furniture - well, draw your own conclusion.

    If you want to persist and improve, then get out with the club on runs where close proximity riding can be practised with people who know that you want to learn and get better.
  • SlackSlack Posts: 326
    Do you feel relaxed when in your riding position? Sounds like you're tensed up in the shoulders and your body is not flowing with the bike. Next time you go out, concentrate on relaxing your shoulders, keep your arms bent slightly and let the shoulders drop naturally.

    The only reason I mention this relaxing thing, is because last year, I had a proper back and shoulder massage. Later that day, I went out on my MTB in the local woods and was riding it much more smoothly and faster, as I was chucking about in the corners. It felt natural and fluid. All because the tension had gone out of my shoulders, which I didn't even realise was there.
    Plymouthsteve for councillor!!
  • Zoomer37Zoomer37 Posts: 725
    If you have trouble riding a bicycle after almost 17 years then perhaps golf or darts may be more suitable.
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    Maybe my bike is too big.... it is a bit long and tall.
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • Zoomer37Zoomer37 Posts: 725
    Herbsman wrote:
    Maybe my bike is too big.... it is a bit long and tall.

    Not a horse is it?
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    I'd say you ned more time on the road bike rather than on a completely different type of bike. Get out on your own, in quiet locations (maybe a carpark after closing) and learn the bike. Build confidence by going around and around the same course. You'll get there soon enough.

    Good points above regarding relaxing on the bike too. try to keep your arms and legs lose and keep your eyes on where you are going, not on the road directly infront of the wheel.

    Trust the bike. These are amazing machines. Look at how someone like Cancellara handles a road bike in the mountains. His kit isn't a million miles away from whatever you are riding, he just rides it with experience and confidence and it looks after him.

    Please do avoid group riding for now though. If only more beginners were more aware of their shortcomings like you are, we might have less crashes in the lower cat races.

    Good luck
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,498
    You could maybe go out with just 1 or 2 others with the express intention of testing your riding with others in clsoe proximity.
    Ride along roads, up/down/cornering etc with these guys right beside you and, as they are primed for your wobbliness, they won't get freaked by your actions. Initially keep speeds relatively low, have them baching elbows with you intentionally so that doesn't upset your riding position by your over-reactions.
  • ozzy1000_0ozzy1000_0 Posts: 144
    i would just play more on bikes.. it sounds like alot of this is psychological, theres no way you'll feel safe if you're not comfortable or confident. I have surfed alot and done allsorts of other things. I reckon paddling into a big wave isn't that much different (psychologically speaking) to rolling into a fast corner. you set things up on the entry and have faith that its going to work, then stay loose and ride through it... if you see it failing before you're even there then the chances are somthings going to go wrong..... i.e "your beliefs about your ability will impact you ability" so I'd say relax, practise and play, the more you find the limits of your road bike the more evidence you'll given you self that you're able to do it...

    as someone above said; find a carpark and hoon around it leaning into corners and get a feel for traction, try different positions, see what happens on the drops vs hoods, see what happens when you move you weight forward/backward, just repeat things and develop a more acute feel for things.... i know we've all riden bikes for ages but its not often we go out with the intention of mindfully focussing on minute bits of our riding, we're usually focused on keeping with the group, or hammering up hills...

    its repitition that makes you expert, theres really no substitute for repeating things... the more you do one thing the more you notice the nuances and detail that allow you to do it better.
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,498
    To add :
    if the issue is more with general riding skiulls as opposed to bunch riding then try to find a road where the surface is really good (no gravel etc) with a corner or a roundabout to repeatedly ride through and get comfortable with that. If you hit a problem on 1 corner, due to gravel or diesel making your wheels slip, then that can ahve knock-on effect for subsequent corners and then your approach and handling becomes less confident and actually poorer making you more prone to actually having more another slip./accident.
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    Well I went for a few rides in the mountains north of nice and I was fine descending at 40mph and going fast around hairpins etc. so am confident pushing the bike til the tyres started to slip. And during races (I've only done about 10 so far) and club rides I try to ride as close as poss to the guy next to me - the closer the better in my view as the more time I spend close to the next rider the more comfortable I will be riding that close.

    I've probably made it sound worse than it actually is, as I do worry too much and beat myself up a lot when I make mistakes, but on the other hand I don't wanna be one of those riders who rides badly and doesn't even realise it...

    Luckily my club holds training sessions at one of the circuits that we sometimes race on so I will ask a few people to watch me and be brutally honest. Nobody's said anything so far but some feedback would really help.
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    Someone has finally been brutally honest - someone who's a world champ offered some constructive criticism of my cornering. So it's off to the nearest trading estate at the weekend to practice. Think I'll get a proper bike fit done as well
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    I'm disappointed that the inevitable "take up triathlon lol" joke was forestalled.
  • learn to ride comfortably no handed. You'll soon learn how to hold a good line.
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    I can do no handed backwards circles on a track bike with my eyes closed. That doesn't help with cornering confidently at speed
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • estampidaestampida Posts: 1,008
    all of the above and:

    Stem lenght plays an important point in handling and how snappy the bike is to steering response.

    And check the wheels for dish and what not
  • Herbsman wrote:
    I can do no handed backwards circles on a track bike with my eyes closed. That doesn't help with cornering confidently at speed

    Sounds like a confidence issue rather than any innate lack of physical ability. Practice descending at high speed, get used to the feel of the bike as it approaches the limit of adhesion etc.

    I discovered how fast you can actually corner in the very first bunch race I did in the middle of the pack. everyone else managed to get round so assumed I would and just went with it.
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    estampida wrote:
    all of the above and:

    Stem lenght plays an important point in handling and how snappy the bike is to steering response.

    And check the wheels for dish and what not
    My stem is super short, 80mm. A bit too snappy TBH but it's either that or back ache :(
    Herbsman wrote:
    I can do no handed backwards circles on a track bike with my eyes closed. That doesn't help with cornering confidently at speed

    Sounds like a confidence issue rather than any innate lack of physical ability. Practice descending at high speed, get used to the feel of the bike as it approaches the limit of adhesion etc.

    I discovered how fast you can actually corner in the very first bunch race I did in the middle of the pack. everyone else managed to get round so assumed I would and just went with it.
    You're right it is confidence... I tend to panic before tight corners
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
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