Riding Fundamentals

Each time we step into The Cave and clip into the bike, we get the chance to make that ride our strongest, most powerful one yet. Seize that opportunity and create real progress in your riding ability by sticking to these core fundamentals. Soon you’ll be riding more efficiently, more effectively, and more rhythmically.

  1. BIKE SETUP: Whether you’ve ridden at XYZ 5 times or 500, take a couple of extra minutes before your next ride to check your usual settings on the bike.  I often find that riders have their saddles too low, handlebars too high, and/or black knobs too loose.  If ever in doubt, ask your instructor before class to check your settings!  
    • SEAT HEIGHT - The saddle should be approximately the same height as your hip bones (the little pointy bones sticking out of the front of your pelvis).  Confirm that your seat height is correct once you’re clipped into the bike by doing a full rotation with the pedals.  When your foot is at the bottom of the rotation, you should have only a very tiny bend in your knee.  Anything more than a very slight bend in your knee means your seat needs to be raised.  If you’ve raised your seat to the proper height and feel the seat poking you in the bum when riding out of the saddle, then you should adjust your riding posture (see point #2 below) instead of lowering the seat.
    • HANDLEBAR HEIGHT - Unless you have lower back problems, your handlebars should be only a few centimetres above your saddle height.  Any higher than that, and we stop engaging our abdominal muscles — which is a critical part of the ride!  Be sure also to check the distance between your seat and handlebars, which should be the same length as the distance from the tip of your elbow to the tip of your middle finger.
    • BLACK KNOBS - Loose black knobs will lead to instability of the seat and/or handlebars during your ride.  The last thing we want is wobbly handlebars or falling seat posts when we’re in the middle of an intense sprint!  So, before you mount up on your bike, check to make sure the black knobs are locked into the holes on the seat post and handlebars, and tighten all 4 black knobs so that the seat and handlebars feel very secure.  For our taller riders, the handlebars and seat posts have “STOP” etched into the metal to mark where the last hole is, and that is the highest that the handlebars and seats will go.  I highly recommend stopping one notch before the “STOP” — because if you go all the way to the last notch, you’ll experience a wobble during your ride no matter how hard you tighten the black knob.
  2. POSTURE: Whether we’re riding in a seated position or out of the saddle, posture is key!
    • CORE TIGHT - To protect your lower back, and to get the most out of your ride, keep the core engaged at all times!  Imagine that you’re about to take a big punch to the gut, and you clench your abdominal muscles in anticipation of taking the hit.  This is the kind of abdominal engagement you should feel during the entire ride — whether you’re seated or standing.
    • HIPS BACK AND LIFTED - Your bum should always be centred over the back of the seat when riding out of the saddle, with your bum lifted just a few centimetres above the seat.  The tailbone is pointed up and back, the back is flat (and supported by your tightened abdominals), chest is lifted, shoulders are drawn back, head is up, and neck is relaxed.  If you see your knees in front of the red resistance knob when you’re riding, pull your hips back until your knees are behind the red knob.  Another good guidepost is the nose of the saddle — you should feel it grazing the inside of your legs as you ride.  This “hips back” position allows us to target the muscle groups that our ride is designed to strengthen — the hamstrings and glutes!
    • KNEES POINTED FORWARD - Resist the tendency for your knees to bow outward when riding. This keeps our leg movement fluid and prevents us from popping out of the pedals during the ride.
    • AVOID LEANING ON HANDLEBARS - Your handlebars are there to offer balance — not to support the weight of your body!  Bear that bodyweight with your legs and glutes instead of your arms.  Save your arms workout for the weights track.  :)
  3. RESISTANCE: Sometimes riders are very tentative to TURN IT UP.  Use that red knob as a measure for growth, and as a means of support — literally!  Without the right amount of resistance on the red knob, your legs will spin over the beat, or they'll move too slowly to stay on the beat.  So, play with the red knob throughout your ride and get a feel for the amount of support you need on the red knob to sense a push beneath your feet — but not so much resistance that it’s impossible to keep your feet synchronised with the beat of the music.
  4. NOURISHMENT: Drink plenty of water BEFORE class.  Eat a protein-rich meal BEFORE class (and a small serving of complex carbohydrates with protein after class).  Finally, remember to breathe DURING class.  Try lining up your inhales and exhales with the rhythm of the music; this will keep your breathing efficient and controlled throughout the entire ride.
  5. ENERGY: Positive energy only inside The Cave!  If you feel burdened with the negative, use the ride to shed that baggage, regroup, and regain control.  Your ride is the remedy, and you have the power to take yourself to the next level by pushing your limits.  All it takes is realising that you’ve already got all the tools you need to get there.  Simply realise that you are 100% in control of how you feel, and make the choice to feel lighter and more energised.  Use the inspiration from the music, the instructor, and the person riding next to you to drive your ride and reset your mentality.
Posted May 30, 2015

Tagged: Kat's Blog

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