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Fixing a Bad Climbing Habit - Fred Matheny

While this tip is most helpful when riding in a group and when pace lining, being able to prevent the sudden deceleration that occurs when you stand is an important skill to learn.


Fixing a Bad Climbing Habit

Q:  On our group rides, one guy throws his bike back every time he stands on a climb. It's miserable to ride behind him. How can we help him correct this dangerous habit? -- Shirley B.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies:  Making the bike kick back when going from sitting to standing on a hill is a common technique flaw. Unfortunately, it's also a natural action. Almost all new riders do it without realizing it, and it seems to be a problem for some veterans too.

The danger is to the rider behind. When a front wheel is struck, it's easy to lose control and fall. Meanwhile, the front guy will feel only a bump against his rear wheel.

The bike doesn't actually go backward when a rider stands, of course. It just seems to in relative terms because the bike slows abruptly.

Here's what's happening and how to prevent it:

When standing on a climb, the tendency is to pull back on the bar and lurch forward to rise from the saddle. This interrupts the pedaling action and, because of the grade, the bike decelerates.

The rider doesn't sense that happening. Ignorance in this case really is bliss. It's certainly disconcerting and dangerous for the rider behind, and it's not hard to prevent or at least minimize.

---Stand on a power stroke.  When a rider is doing it wrong, explain what's happening and suggest that he practice his timing so he stands as one pedal comes over the top. By making a smooth stroke this way as power is being applied, he'll keep more of his speed through the transition.

---Push the bike forward.  As he stands, he should also push ahead slightly with his hands on the brake lever hoods. When timed with the key pedal stroke, this move further offsets any speed loss that slows the bike relative to the one behind.

---Communicate.  Some riders always say "Standing!" just before they do. This alert is helpful, but it isn't a substitute for proper technique.

Tip!  When following any rider on a climb, it's a good idea to leave at least a foot (20 cm) between your front wheel and his rear wheel, and ride several inches to the left or right rather than directly behind. This creates a safety margin no matter how good the guy's standing technique. Stay aware.

From Road Bike Rider weekly e-mail newsletter.  You can see more tips and sign-up for their newsletter here: http://www.roadbikerider.com/index.htm


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