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Benefits of cycling
6 Off Road Skills That Will Help You Cycle Faster On The Road

6 Off Road Skills That Will Help You Cycle Faster On The Road


– I am firm believer that if you want to be a good bike rider then you need to be a
confident bike rider. Riding all sorts of different bikes, on all sorts of different terrains is one of the quickest
and most effective ways to improve your ability to handle anything that you could encounter
from back out on the road. (whooshing) (upbeat dynamic music) When out on the road, on
our bikes, we do encounter a wide variety of surface changes, however when you ride off-road these are only more
frequent and more varied. So we need to become really adept at scanning the path ahead of us, working out what obstacles
are coming our way, how much grip there is, and, crucially, where that
grip is going to be found. This calculation process
has to become so fast, fluid and second nature that
you’re actually no longer aware that you’re making those
decisions on the bike. There is only one way to dial in your tire to eye coordination,
and that is practice. Get used to the sensations that are coming from underneath you, what the surface looks
like, but more importantly, what that surface actually
feels like to ride. And once you’ve done that you can log it into your mental catalog of experience. (mellow music) To get a real understanding
of where the limits of adhesion lie we need to
start understanding our timings of the inputs that were making to the bike and the effects that they have
on our direction of travel or our acceleration and deceleration. So off-road, with these
gravel tires, especially, you definitely have a
little bit less traction when it comes to riding on the grass. So when you’re braking it’s
going to take a lot longer to scrub off the same amount
of speed as it would on a road. All that’s going to do is help
you understand how much traction there is actually
available under your tires, so that when you meet a similar
situation out on the road you can be, “Oh, I’ve been there before, “I know that’s it’s going
to take me a little bit long to slow down, ’cause
it’s wet, it’s greasy, and that will help you have
more control on the descents. (mellow music) One of the more interesting
things that you’ll learn when riding off-road is
just how much traction there is available at all times. We’ve mentioned how that
affects your braking and how it affects cornering,
the fact that you’re going to be slipping and sliding a little bit more than when out on the road. But one of the most important
things is you’ll learn how to dose your power onto
the terrain that you’re riding. Now this doesn’t always
apply when out on the road, but if it’s wet, or it’s icy,
or you’re riding somewhere where there’s cobble climbs. Learning when you’re going
to be able to put the power down to the road beneath you
is one of the most important things you can learn to
make your energy expenditure more efficient, but also to
make you faster on those climbs. (mellow music) It’s hard to deny these
days when riding on the road that at some point you’re
going to have to avoid some sort of obstacle,
either a drain cover, some road furniture, or maybe
something that’s just rolled into the road unexpectedly
in front of you. (daunting music) The perfect time to practice
these avoidance techniques is when riding off-road. For a start, you’re not going
to be traveling quite as fast, generally speaking, but also
you’ve got much more chance to practice some avoidance techniques. So bunny hopping, for
example, is one of the most basic skills that you can
learn from riding a bike. But, if you want to keep
your wheels nice and round is also one of the best skills that you should start
to think about learning. How you choose to avoid the
obstacle that’s coming your way is of course, down to
whatever it is ahead of you. Maybe you can just break
and swerve around it. Maybe there’s a different
line that you can take, or maybe, you will indeed, just have to hop over the top of it. And that’s the beauty of riding off-road. It is so varied, and it’s
again hitting that calculation process in your brain and
creating a second nature pathway which will make riding on
the road that much safer. (daunting music) When out riding on the road we often have a lot of grip available. However, when riding off-road, this grip is likely to
be quite a lot less. Meaning, that when you’re
tires start to slip and slide you’ve actually got
quite a lot more warning and more chance of
rectifying the situation. How does this translate to the road? Well, it’s going to help
improve your reaction times. On the road if our tires let go grip, they’re going to let
go very, very quickly. That’s ’cause they had
a high amount of grip in the first place and when it’s gone, you’re down to zero pretty quick. But, if you’re reaction times are improved the chance of catching that
slide is much more increased. So practicing out on a slippery
surface like in the grass or wet routes in the woods
is only going to increase your reaction times and
make you a safer road rider. (mellow music) For me riding off-road all comes down to confidence and control. I used to set up a little test
circuit and try and ride it within one or two seconds
each and every lap to make sure I was nice and consistent. It was only a short circuit,
it’s around 35 seconds from memory, but hitting
it every single time and getting the lines correct became part of my training plan and it made
me feel much more competent when I was riding off-road. By finding yourself a little
test circuit like that, you’ll learn to stich all of
the off-road skills together to create a much more
well rounded bike rider. And if you’ve not been convinced so far, you should ride off-road
’cause it’s just a lot of fun. Ultimately, all of these
skills are boiled down to one thing, and that’s
increasing your confidence as a rider, which will enable you to feel much more comfortable out on your bike in a wider variety of situations. If you find this video useful
do give it a thumbs up. And for more dirty off-road
type videos, click on the bike.

49 comments on “6 Off Road Skills That Will Help You Cycle Faster On The Road

  1. Wish I'd watched this before yesterday. I was heading for a bridge over the canal at some speed (faster than normal for me for me due to feeling unusually sprightly and a following wind) and "zoomed" up the ramp to where concrete met slippery decking. I hit the ground so hard I actually screamed! 4 hours in A+E and 6 stitches.

  2. Winter riding on a nice flat grassy field (on 23mm tires) will help you learn to be one with the bike. Learning to stay wheels down when your rear wheel slides out is good. Learning to stay wheels down when both tires slide out is great.

  3. Practice coming to a stop on a nose-wheelie. Yep. If you get used to doing nose wheelies all the time for fun, you will become able to use every_last_bit of braking power available to you from the front brake short of locking it… that skill might save your life.

    Also… skidding on both wheels. I practice it on snow.

  4. Great video Chris, not all watchers or members of the site are experienced cyclists and this short informative video can help those not so. You've just got to read some of the questions on the GCN Facebook page to realise not everyone is Geraint Thomas or Tom Pidcock 🙂

  5. and next put the GMBN and EMBN on lycras and have an epic mixed surface ride on CX bikes. am already grinning thinking about steve jones and henry on lycras hahaha

  6. Faster again. What is with you Brits and the fascination with always getting faster. It's like the muscle heads at the gym who are never strong or big enough. Very few people ride to go faster, they ride to get outdoors and have fun.

  7. Perspective…viewing this solely as a mountain biker I couldn't help but think that in large part the joy of riding a bike comes from encountering obstacles (rocks, roots, drops, skinnies, etc.). No disrespect to road cycling intended, rather just giving the mindset of a mountain biker.

  8. Chris, lose the helmet and the beard when you're talking to camera, you're a good looking lad and you don't need either of them.

  9. I definitely love videos like this. There is too much power increase, do intervals blahs blahs blahs kind of videos. Its important to have those, but after a while it is hitting your head against the wall on how to be a better cyclist. This video helps encourage diverse training and riding! Thank you!

  10. Fat bikes are really fun to ride in challenging conditions. Lets just say I am in Canada and I do not like putting my bike away in the winter. I also just got a brand new norco bigfoot bike too. Fat bikes just are really fun to ride and you feel like you can ride through just about anything.

  11. A childhood spent mucking about on mountain bikes, and riding a fixie in the city, have given me confident skills on the road bike. Handy, when you suddenly come across a crater in the road at 50kmph.

  12. Nice video. I also realized the limits of my slick tyres… but it was more the limits of riding uphill muddy roads… or was it sliding downwards? 🤔

    Also, what is up with all the people in the comment section talking about beards?
    All I saw was a handsome man, freezing on the bench 😄

  13. Hey GCN, you should make a video about "counter-steering" technique. I'm surprised you haven't already made a video about the physics of bicycle steering dynamics. Most cyclists don't know the physics of how bicycle steering works and how the mechanism is highly counter-intuitive.
    Understanding the mechanism will greatly help people in obstacle avoidance and other emergency situations!
    Certainly helped me improve my cornering response when I started reading up about it as a young physics nerd.

  14. My husband tried to avoid a object in the road…….a motorist…….who put him in hospital and wrecked his best bike

  15. I see the value of learning to bunny hop, however, I'm concerned if there is excessive wear on the headset components.

  16. I enjoyed a half-day womens only MTB course a few years ago. Didn't take to mountain biking but it really improved my bike handling skills on the road, and my confidence.

  17. Learnt a lot from this, very impressive given Chris is sitting on a bench for most of this. Really impressive coaching tips. 👍

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