Balance Drills--Part Ten of Fixed Gear 101
by Greg Goode
More drills for the empty parking lot! Balance drills will open your balance and help you to learn trackstands (next section). Do them unclipped, or at least with the toestraps loose. You will find your balance stronger on one side than the other. When you do the following exercises, which side do you tip over on most of the time? That's your weaker side. You'll probably always have a weaker and a stronger side. But with practice, both sides will improve. Here are several things that should help that happen:
Ride as slowly as you can
Ride as slowly as you can without actually stopping. Racers in velodromes doing matched sprints will often do this. You will find yourself using the backpedaling pressure to control both speed and, to a lesser extent, balance.
Ride in very small circles
Ride in small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Sometimes the front wheel will seem like it's at right angles to the frame! Backpedaling pressure helps here too.
Hover before dismounting
When you intend to stop, bring the pedals to a complete halt at the 3 o'clock - 9 o'clock positions, and stay upright as long as you can. Try it standing on the pedals as well as seated. Comfort with this will help a great deal staying in the pedals at traffic lights and at ultra-low speeds.
Ride with no hands
You can use markings on the parking lot, or even set up empty plastic water bottles as markers. Try different combinations:
any which direction across the lot
large and small circles both directions
figure eights--an old skaters' warmup, which improves both left and right sides.