Its the time of year to dust off your pride and start working on skills. Some take this opportunity to practice CX skills exclusively and others use it as a chance to work some well needed road and handling skills.
How many racers out there actually work on road skills? Do you meet up with teammates and practice cornering, pack riding, bumping or control drills? How many feel that if you have been racing for more than just a few years you probably are beyond the skill drills?
It is commonly said that if you think you need to work on skills you probably do. If you don't think you need to work on them then you absolutely do.
I have taken this chance with my young racers to get them in the habit of working skills. For them it is something different. Both of these 10 year old kids will race cyclocross this year so these bike handling on control skills will benefit them in that aspect. More importantly though is that these skills are directly targeted to get them more comfortable on the road bike and improve their pack riding, corning and confidence. Probably more important than all of that is that these kids are having a real good time. More fun than just going out and doing intervals or long rides right now.
Here are a couple examples of their drills and things that can easily be done with a group or simply a pair of racers.
Narrow alleyway drill. I started with them slowly riding elbow to elbow through this alleyway that is just about 4 feet wide. The idea here was to get them used to riding next to someone else. We took it a step further and made them approach it at speed. Great confidence builder.
Bumping and handling drills. A small square area was set up using the flag. One rider enters and sees how long he can stay in. At least every 30 seconds he has to change direction of travel. After comfort is built doing that, the second rider is introduced. They both attempt to stay in while avoiding or riding around each other. Finally they get the chance to bump each other. They start using tactics like cutting to the inside and forcing the other out. Its good fun, great confidence and increases bike handling and comfort. Its important to maintain control of the bike by holding the drops. This will help prevent handlebars from tangling.