Junior Cycling Skill Drills
Below is a list of slow and fast speed skills drills
The art of Rolling
Lets face it one of the most important drills you can do on the bike is done off the bike. The art of learning how to roll. In most martial arts classes the first thing your instructor will teach you how to do a forward roll. Practice the rolling drill from a lunge, squat, and standing position. Practice these drills to your right and left side. So when a crash happens you will know how to roll instead of putting your hand out.
This is the second most important drill to learn. Following another person in a grassy area. Tap the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. Try it from the left side to avoid damaging your friends rear derailleur. Remain relaxed and calm and learn how to respond by bouncing of their wheel and maintaining control. This will help build your confidence when you are in a group of riders. Overlapping wheels happens in almost every race, but understanding how to respond to is the key.
Follow the leader
This is a fun, easy way to get things going. One rider can take the reins here and lead the group around the parking lot. The idea here is not speed but dexterity. Impose a maximum speed limit or give points for being the slowest to complete an obstacle course without touching down! Practice sharp turns, cutting in between obstacles and, for a more advanced group, hop a curb or try a track stand. Try to stay as close together as possible. This can be done as an elimination exercise. Keep going until the last rider has to place down a foot or plain falls off.
If you have a spare training bike, skill drills are not the time or place to use your race bike
Heel Grab Drill
For this drill, the goal is to grab onto one of your heels and keep riding along normally.
Start by pedaling normally, then lean to your left and use your left hand to grab onto your left heel. Continue to hold your heel as you pedal.
After a few pedal strokes, return your left hand to the handlebar. Then take your right hand and grab your right heel, holding onto it while pedaling.
The key to this drill is keeping your weight centered. Since your weight will be off to one side (whatever heel you are grabbing,) you’ll have to lean the bike slightly in the opposite direction to stay balanced and on track.
Drill progression: You can start off holding your calf, then move to your ankle, then finally your heel. It gets harder, because the further down you reach, the more you must lean the bike to other side.
This is a natural progression from ankle grabbing. Using the same concept as the above drill, practice picking up water bottles from the ground. Ride slowly up to the bottle and, pushing your bike away from the side you are leaning to, bring yourself low enough to the ground so that you can retrieve the bottle. You can start by trying to knock the bottles over using your left hand and then your right. Move on to picking up the bottles and then putting them down without letting them fall over.
These skills are important, not just for safety but also to avoid flat tires and to keep your wheels true. As with the other drills, there is a natural progression.
Front Wheel hop
Assuming your parking lot has white lines to indicate parking spaces, practice riding the length of the lot, hopping your front wheel over each line as you cross it. This is mostly done using the arms to pull up on the bars.
Rear Wheel hop
Now do the same thing but with your rear wheel. You will use your legs to pull up on the pedals and lift the rear wheel off the ground.
Both Wheels hop
Once you’ve mastered the front and rear wheel separately it is time to get both wheels off the ground at the same time. At a jogging speed, bend your knees, push the bike down into the ground and then burst upwards, pulling up simultaneously on the pedals and the handle bars. Once you feel comfortable jumping white lines, you can try some bigger obstacles such as soda cans or sticks.
There are three ways to take a corner on a bike. Lean the bike, lean your body and the bike and turn the handlebars. Most steering is done by leaning, but learning how to turn the bike using the handlebars can be a useful skill. By turning the handlebars instead of leaning the bike, you prevent the possibility of having the tires slide out from underneath you on a wet road or on a gravelly turn.
For this drill, you will create a slalom course using cones, tennis balls, or pebbles. You want to line up about six cones in a straight line, spaced about six feet apart. Start by riding straight at the line of cones, and continue through the course by weaving around each cone. (You will ride to the left of the first cone, to the right of the second cone, to the left of the third cone, etc.)
The key here is to look straight ahead to the end of the course, but slalom your bike around the cones. Don’t stare at the cones.
The Offset Slalom
For the offset slalom, you use the same set-up as with the regular slalom. But this time, take every other cone and move it left or right 2-3 feet.
Now, instead of weaving around cones in a straight line, you have to take wider, sweeping turns.
To get through, you still look ahead to the finish, but you’ll have to lean a lot more to get around the cones.
Here’s the best turning drill of them all – figure 8’s.
The goal here is to ride your bike in a figure 8 within the smallest space possible. Ideally you will be able to do this within a single parking space (roughly a 10′ x 20′ rectangle.) Of course, you have to do it without touching the lines or putting your foot down.
Remember the counter-balance technique you picked up in the heel grab drill? You’ll need to use that same idea when making such sharp turns. As you lean the bike into the turn, you put your weight on the outside. For example, if you’re making a sharp right turn, you should focus your weight on your left pedal.
The cool thing with figure 8’s is you can do them moderately fast in a small area, or if you do them really, really slow, you can them in a very small area
Parking Space Crit
In this exercise, you are going to have your own little criterium inside a single parking space. Attempt to make a full circle inside the confines of a parking space. Remember to look to the place where you want to go, instead of where you currently are (this is important in all turns). Once you’ve mastered turning in one direction, try it the other way.
The Slow Race
Have all the riders line up as if at the start of a race. Mark a finish line about 20 meters away. Using balance and steering, each rider will attempt to rider as slowly as possible without falling over. The last rider to cross the line is the winner. If they clip out, ride backwards or crash, they are out of the race.
In this drill, you’ll make some light contact with your partner. With your hands in the drops, to prevent your handlebars from hooking (always protect your handlebars when riding in a tight pack), stick your elbows out and ride the length of the parking lot knocking elbows. You can use your elbows as bumpers, letting them absorb the brunt of the impact.
Shoulder Bumping and Leaning
Once you are comfortable with elbow touching, you can practice making direct contact with your shoulders. Once again, keep your hands in the drops to protect your handlebars. Try to stay shoulder to shoulder and progressively increase the strength as well as the length of the impact. Practice leaning into each other and holding it for a few seconds. The ultimate goal with this drill is to ride the length of the parking lot completely leaning on each other.
Incorporate all the skills in one bike course