Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Slow Speed Skills can Save your Life

  So far, we have spoken about what to wear, how to ride, where to ride, and what floral treats and treasures to look for.
  In this entry let’s look at another skill set as important, and at times even more important.

      Slow Speed Skills.

Those are the skills that are just as they sound and refer to.

  There is a large group of cyclists that thinks the faster the better.  Frankly I at times can support that theory.  If you are in the greater Vancouver area, out in Coquitlam area you might be aware of a hill called Mariner Hill.  It’s about a 6/7 % down grade for about a kilometer and a bit.  The speed limit on the road – for cars – is 50 KPH.
  If you have ridden a road bike down a big hill, the temptation is to get up into the biggest gear and just go for it.  It is a rush going down a hill as close to 70/75 KPH !! and yes I know that is against the law… but darn it is fun !!
A buddy of mine is a traffic officer and threatened to write me a speeding ticket for exceeding the speed limit, on my bike.  Well, at the time, being a commuter with an attitude, I let Richard know when I would be there, so he could set up to write the ticket. I told him, if he writes it, I’ll happily accept it, pay it, and then frame it.  He never did show up at the same time as me.
I survived this part of my riding life in spite of myself.
The reason for that story is to show that going fast is really quite easy and an act that over takes cyclists all too easily.
  Now you have to think about the fact that there are others on the same road as you, at the same time as you, and they are likely travelling at near the same speed as you, likely over the posted limit, like you.
Rider and bike – about 250 pounds, car and driver – about 2250 pounds.  Do the math, who will win if those two come together. Then think about the speeds and the lack of surface around the rider if and when they hit the ground.  This year in British Columbia there have been about 12-15 cyclists killed in traffic for assorted reasons.  That is a number that is far too high.  One is a number that is too high a price to pay.

This brings me to my point.

               Can you as a cyclist move about in confined spaces with confidence and control?

 I refer to confined spaces as spaces such as on the road? in a bike lane?  and along that same lane coming up to corners? 

Information tid-bit one: Bike lanes normally do not continue through intersections, unless they are specifically marked as doing so.

  When was the last time you as a rider went into or through a parking lot and didn’t have to react and react quickly to a driver seeing a parking spot and not you?, or along a bike path and have a dog run out in front of you, or another cyclist decide they want to turn and not signal?, or a jogger groovin’ to their tunes, with ear buds firmly implanted and run across your path? And we all know that drivers respect riders using bike lanes … ya right.  Did we mention weather conditions at times are less than ideal?
   It doesn’t really matter which type of bike you ride, being able to go slow with confidence and control is a skill that I believe is a required skill, and a skill if not practiced is a diminish-able skill.
The CAN-BIKE program has a list of basic slow speed skills, which once mastered, can be viewed as the corner stone of the program.

CAN-BIKE has the following slow speed skills as part of their program:

* Straight Line Riding          * Hand Signals          * Shoulder Checks             * Slalom  

 * Figure 8                             * Rock Dodge            * Threthshold Braking      *  Quick Turn / T Turn

We talk about and practice using gears and brakes and actually moving the gears through the full range of their gears. We also speak about unclipping from pedals, and what is their power leg and why you need to know that. Along with which hand controls which brake.

These are an excellent grouping of slow speed skills and there are those classes that these are the sum of their riding ability.  No two classes and groups of riders are the same, or have the same skill level.  Each and every class there are different skill levels. Not everyone sees things as the Instructor does.
As an Instructor you have to be prepared for this skill spectrum.
Then there are those classes that you breeze through the above noted skills with very little problems.  You are looking for more, as the students are looking for more because they can do more.
I have added a number of slow speed skills to challenge those that can do it.
 These are not CAN-BIKE. I refer to them as Survival skills.
 I make it clear there are two different sets here, that way the insurance company can be satisfied and the integrity of the CAN-BIKE program is intact.

   *  Parking Stall  (8’6”)  *  Riding the planks (2”X 4” 8 feet long and 2”X 6” 8 feet long) 

   * Dismounts and * Cross Over Dismounts   * Curb hopping - both straight on and side on

   *  Bike carry  * Bump and Go

There are more that I will also speak about for the more advanced skill levels, up to the infamous “M” Drill. I will talk about the “M” Drill in a future blog entry.

Over the next few months I will talk about these slow speed skills and how I teach them. I am not implying my way is the most correct, but rather this is what has worked for me for over 80 classes that I have taught. What the secrets are along with why and where these slow speed skills work.

I am using some foreshadowing here by telling all what is coming.  Sort of like a movie trailer, drop a few hints and make you want to continue to read and follow my entries …… looking for some inside secrets.

Bottom line… you need to practice these skills because you don’t when that moment will come that you have to do it, without thinking about it, and doing it right.  The above skills don’t require fancy expensive articles to make them work.  Most parking lots will have curbs, parking stalls, painted lines, parking partitions, rocks and pot holes. 
 Find a place where you can take the time and practice.  You won’t regret the time and effort.

It’s like a term about reading a good book - It’ll be time well wasted.


Thanks for stopping by,
    Safe Ride Home



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