Five advanced skills every cyclist should learn

So you've mastered the basics? Here's how to take your skills up a notch

Clock09:00, Tuesday 14th November 2023

If you've been cycling for a while, you've probably mastered the basics, but there's still so much to learn and improve on besides just getting fitter. Here are five skills that we think every cyclist should learn. They might only seem like small things, but these tips will help you step up from a beginner to an experienced rider.

Nutrition bar trick

Nutrition bar trick

It’s imperative to eat and drink as we ride, especially on a long ride, but sometimes, and especially when wearing gloves, it can be really difficult to get energy bars out of the packaging. Here’s how you do it one-handed, without having to use your teeth.

Hold the bar firmly in one hand, and whack the end against the handlebars on your bike. The top of the bar should break through the packaging, allowing you to eat it. Best of all, this means there are no little bits of foil packaging to worry about dropping.

Bunny hop

Bunny hop

The bunny hop is an advanced skill that is good for more than just showboating. A bunnyhop can help you get out of a rut in the road, clear a pothole or obstacle, and even get up a curb. We’ve got a full tutorial for how to bunny hop, in which Manon Lloyd learns to bunny hop in a day, with Blake Samson’s guidance.

In short, the key to the bunny hop is lifting your front wheel off the ground by throwing your weight back, then pushing the bike forward to lift your back wheel off the ground. Start small on the grass, then take it to the tarmac and build in height and speed.

Riding loose surfaces

Riding loose surfaces

When we’re out riding, there’s all sorts of surfaces we’re going to meet. Wet tarmac, gravel, dust, ice, leaves – you name it, we’ll see it. When the surface gets loose, be that gravel, hard-packed mud or loose tarmac, keep these tips in mind.

  • Use both brakes gently, and use the front and rear brake together
  • When cornering, avoid braking. Try to brake before the corner
  • Don’t make any sudden or drastic changes to your direction

Read more: How to ride your road bike on gravel

Taking off and putting on clothing whilst riding

Taking off and putting on clothing whilst riding

If the heavens open, or if you need to shed a layer, it’s great to be able to do it on the move. First of all, for this skill, you’ll need to be able to ride no-handed – we’ve got a tutorial showing you how to do that.

Next, practice taking your layers out of your pocket, and whilst concentrating on the road ahead, getting your jacket on. Lift your arms high as you do this, and always be aware that the jacket could catch in your wheel, leading to disaster.

Keep your eyes on the road ahead, and keep pedalling. The bike will be more stable when you’re moving at speed.

For putting clothes back in your pocket, do the process in reverse. The key here is finding an easy, compact way of folding your jacket so it fits neatly in your pocket without flapping around or falling out.

For an easier time learning this, use a gilet. Without sleeves, it’s going to be a lot easier to learn.

Riding in a group

Riding in a group

You don’t have to be an expert cyclist to ride in a group, but there is an art to doing it well. Good group riding is about predicting what the other riders are going to do, by reading their body language, their signals, and the road ahead.

To get started, find a group of experienced riders, or friends that you trust on the bike. Gradually ride closer and closer to the other riders, as the closer you are together, the more aerodynamic you’ll be.

Use hand signals to alert the rest of the group to obstacles ahead, and to warn them before you hit the brakes or do something unpredictable.

Read more: How to ride in a group

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