Beginner-friendly road cycling skills you need to improve your performance

Cycling is a fulfilling sport, and once you get bitten by the bug, it’s hard to stop. Instead, you find yourself looking for new routes to take, new apparel and purchasing a bigger and better bike. 

Whether you are a skilled road cyclist or a beginner, brushing up on your road bike handling skills can help you improve your performance. Your performance is directly aligned with your strength and personal fitness goals, and once you start focusing on your fitness, you’ll be more accurate with your skills and in turn, boost your performance. 

We have compiled a list of essential road cycling techniques to help improve your performance. 

Braking 

When it comes to braking, remember that it is all about; timing, pressure and your control. Mastering your timing will ensure that your turns are smoother, and come with ease. You also need to ensure that you brake before you turn so that by the time you turn, you’re off the brakes. 

Pressure, on the other hand, varies from person to person. But, a rule of thumb is to ensure you are in control of your bike when cycling and make sure you are feathering the brakes. This will guarantee that you slightly reduce your cycling speed while making a turn or stopping. When practising your braking, remember to wear a bike helmet, regardless of how familiar you are with a bike. 

Descending

Cycling downhill is an advanced cycling skill that can be overwhelming and dangerous when done incorrectly. But, with proper practice, it is doable and creates a better overall experience, especially if you prefer mountain biking or enjoy routes with hills. 

When practising, remember that outside there are variables that are out of your control. So, start off slowly and then work your way up to a faster speed once you’re comfortable with cycling downhill. This will allow you to get accustomed to the skill and ensure you are safe during your rides. 

Additional tips to help you master this essential cycling skill: 

  • Always look ahead to watch where you are going. As a beginner, you may be tempted to only focus on your wheels or a bend, but this can increase your chances of losing balance and falling.

  • Get a low centre of gravity when riding; this will help you to have a better balance on your bike, ensuring more control. 

  • Avoid sitting on the seat when descending to ensure you remain focused. This is more important on rocky terrain as a bumpy ride can affect your visuals. 

  • Remember to lean the bike, not your body. The reason being is that the adhesion of your tires on the road will work better when the heaviest part of the rider-bike system is pressing vertically down upon the tire contact points with the roadway. 

Using a heart monitor 

Having a heart monitor when cycling has many benefits. It helps to monitor your fitness, track improvements and can be helpful when trying to burn fat for weight loss. But, the key factor is that it also allows you to keep track of your calorie burn so that you know when you need to refuel. 

With any sport, it is vital to know when to stop and listen to your body. Listening to your body will also help you improve your cycling endurance as you’ll know when you need to refuel. And what better way to refuel than having carbohydrates and protein-rich snacks and water. To train and improve your endurance, you need to be refuelled to ensure your body will be able to handle you pushing it.

Cornering 

To perfect your cornering, you need to prepare by shifting to the gear you need when you are exiting your turn. However, you need to make sure you brake before you make the turn as you don't want to become unbalanced while turning. Make sure you maintain your speed and body positioning as well. If you feel as if you need more practice, find a cycling route with several corners where you can learn a routine and see what works for you. 

Balance 

Although most people have this skill developed, you will need better balance when cycling in tight spaces like traffic or groups, if you’re considering joining a cycling team. Mastering this skill will ensure you get the best experience, regardless of your surroundings. When practising, focus on where you are heading in your route. Looking down will derail you and affect your balance. And, when riding around corners, place your hands on the handlebar drops as this will help lower your centre of gravity. It will make balancing easier and help you focus on the road ahead. 

Final thoughts

Cycling is more than just having the correct road cycling equipment; it’s about trusting yourself, looking ahead and ensuring you balance yourself correctly. Keeping those essential skills in mind will ensure every route you take is fulfilling and allows you to truly reap the benefits of cycling on the road. Chris Willemse Cycles is a bike shop online that is looking to give you a holistic approach to cycling, which ensures having the tips to become a better cyclist, the equipment and additional apparel you may need. So, shop our cycling clothing and road bikes for sale and start your cycling journey.