Teaching your child to ride a bike with Isla Rowntree

With the summer finally arriving and the long school holidays on the horizon we asked Isla Rowntree, ex-national
cyclocross champion and founder of Islabikes how to approach teaching you child to ride a bike.

What are your thoughts on stabilisers?

For years children’s bikes have come fitted with stabilisers, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right thing to use. We encourage parents to avoid stabilisers as they prevent children from learning to balance naturally and actually make the process of learning to ride a bike trickier.
Far better is to let your child use a balance bike before starting to learn a pedal bike. A balance bike will teach them the basics of balancing on two wheels and make the transition to first pedal bike much easier.

 

How old should my child be?

Most children learn to ride their first pedal bike unaided between the ages of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. But children develop their cycling skills at different times. If it seems that your child isn’t quite get the hang of it, don’t worry, let them keep enjoying their balance bike for a few more weeks and try again later.

How do I teach my child to ride?

Find a large, safe, flat open space to use as your learning zone. Something with tarmac or a fairly firm surface is perfect. Long grass is too tricky for new riders to pedal on.

Now adjust the height of your child’s saddle so they can get the balls of their feet on the floor.

Put your child on their bike and stand behind them, holding them under their armpits. Don’t hold any part of the bike. We want the new rider to feel how their bike naturally moves underneath them.

Push your child along and let the bike wander in any direction. You can help steer the bike by leaning your child right and left. Doing this will let your child learn that leaning is part of the steering process.

If your children have learnt to balance on a balance bike, they may take a little while to grasp the concept of forward pedalling. Encourage them while they practise pedalling forwards.

If your child is ready to cycle unaided they should quickly get a feel for balance and you can gradually let go, but stay close by to catch them if anything goes wrong.

For nervous riders, you may need to stay with them a bit longer. That’s fine. Just let them know that you’re there, but you’re very gradually going to loosen your hold on them. Eventually they’ll be cycling unaided without even knowing it. The look of delight when they realise you’re no longer holding them and they’re cycling all by themselves is a moment to treasure.

 

The final part of the jigsaw is learning how to set off from stationary unaided. For this, have your child put one of their pedals just past the top most part of the pedal circle. That means around the ‘5 to the hour’ position with the left leg, or ‘5 past the hour’ position with the right leg.

Now ask them to give a good push on this leg. With enough forward momentum they should be able to transfer both feet to the pedals, start pedalling and be a completely independent rider.

Islabikes build quality lightweight bikes that are gender neutral in their aesthetics, CyclingShorts.cc will be reviewing them shortly – so watch this space.

You can find more information at:

http://www.islabikes.co.uk/

@islabikes

https://www.facebook.com/Islabikes

https://www.youtube.com/user/Islabikes

Race Tactics – it’s more than just a lead out

The growth of women’s cycling over the last few years has since a big increase in numbers attending events. Whilst this is obviously a positive for our sport, it also means that there are more challenges in races, as many riders (from junior to veteran) have been brought up racing in smaller numbers, where the best sprinter invariably would win. However, times are changing, and with that comes the need to understand race tactics in more depth.  Admittedly, this is quite a large topic, so I will keep it relatively brief in the first instance.  Here goes…

Bunch sprints don’t work for anybody other than those prepared to sprint

So if you’re not prepared to get your elbows out in the sprint finish, or you don’t fancy sprinting, you need to rethink your options. Which could be any one, or a selection of the following:

  • attack off the front, on your own
  • attack off the front, with other riders (not necessarily your own team mates)
  • slim the numbers in the bunch down by making it hard
  • use the circuit to your advantage

All seem relatively straightforward, don’t they? But hardly anybody uses these tools to their advantage.

(c) Chris Maher 2016

Offence is the best form of defence

Not something you probably hear much within cycling circles – it stems more from American Football, but it is also true in road racing – go on the offensive and you are at an advantage straightaway. This doesn’t mean that you swear and curse at your fellow riders (the beauty of the English language); instead it means that you stay near the front and off the front, so that riders come to you.  And guess what? It really is easier, as you don’t have to keep chasing people down, because they come to you. This lesson is especially important when you are riding in a bunch of over 60 – on the continent, races can have up to 200 riders and you can’t ride from the back to the front if 200 riders are stretched out, so you have to be near the front. I always look out for riders who are happy to sit at the back of the bunch, as the chances are that they are biding their time and conserving their energy for the sprint at the end. But if they’re at the back, that means it’s harder to stay on wheels as the less confident riders tend to drift to the back and they run the risk of getting dropped if the pace goes up.

A race is just that, a race

Which means that it shouldn’t be easy. It’s called “competition” so if you are finding that everybody in the bunch is chatting away, chances are you’re going to end up with a mass bunch sprint at the end of the race. If you know your stuff, you will know that once it comes down to a bunch sprint, you are much less likely to be in control of your own destiny and are at the whim of others. So if the bunch is having a chinwag riding along and you need a result, you need to do as much as possible to ensure that the chatting stops, the pace goes up and your competition start to find it a bit harder, because that is how you slim the numbers down and swing the finishing result in your favour.

MuleBar Tour of Northumberland 2016 | Stage One

Know your competition

This is two-fold: you want to know who to avoid (for example, riders you know who struggle with corners, or brake excessively) and you also want to know who probably knows what they’re talking about, who’s up for a race, and who you would want in a breakaway with you. If you’re not sure who that should be, look at the list of riders entered and see who’s good at time trialling, as chances are they will be pretty strong. At the same time, remember that anybody who knows what they’re doing, regardless of what they look like or how old they are, will know which wheel to follow and how to sit in. The rule is, don’t underestimate your competition.

When an attack isn’t an attack

There is a time and a place to attack.  You can also attack more than once in a race, but if you’re going to do so, make sure that your early attacks are feints rather than full on attacks.  The idea with this is that you are seeing who is up for the race and who isn’t on form.  Make sure you attack in different places, but choose the timing.  For example, most attacks happen either just after the brow of a hill or a corner when, in actual fact, the attacks which have the most effect tend to be when people least expect it.

Keeping the pace high

I’ve been in races when a discussion has been had pre-race that we would try to keep the pace high to slim the field down.  The only problem is that you have that discussion with riders and then they don’t necessarily understand that it just means you do through and off at the front of the race at a fairly high speed; instead when it’s their turn to come through they attack. This tactic doesn’t usually work if you’re trying to keep the pace high. And regardless of what you may think, it’s generally a good idea to keep the pace high because the race is then safer and you don’t end up with people riding into the space underneath your armpit and encroaching on your dance space.

Lead out trains only work from the front

If half of your team is sat near the back of the bunch, it’s not going to work is it? You need rider numbers, speed, nerves of steel and lots of confidence to effect a successful lead out, so if you think your team mates are going to be hanging around the back of the bunch, pick another tactic to win your race.

Use the circuit to pick your moment

Watch your competition as they go through the finish line – if the finish is slightly uphill and people are struggling, knock it into your little ring and roll up and see whether you can ride past people as you go through the finish. When it’s not the final lap, nobody will notice that you’re watching other riders. If the finish isn’t your ideal finish, pick somewhere else to make your move – it may be a tight corner that you’re better than others at riding, or there may be a descent when you can press home your advantage – look at areas as you go around and work out what will work best for you.

Tour Of The Reservoir 2016 | Elite Spring Cup & Women's Road Ser

Don’t be a sheep – negative racing is literally the WORST

Don’t follow every single attack that goes up the road, unless there is somebody in it who you want to be in a break with (the potential race winner, perhaps?). Also, don’t just mark people because you don’t want them to win. It makes a race really really boring. If you’ve got the ability to chase somebody down why not continue and do a real attack?

MuleBar Tour of Northumberland 2016 | Stage TwoIf you’re there for the photographs, you really need to be off the front

Why do you think professional riders launch random solo attacks 200km from the finish? Not because they’re mental (necessarily) but because it gives your team/sponsor(s) exposure. So if you’re in a sponsored team, do your sponsors a favour and attempt some attacks, because sponsors want exposure of the positive kind. Thanking you in advance!

Enjoy yourself

Funnily enough, if you want to be there, you will probably surprise yourself. Don’t pressurise yourself into getting a result, just enjoy it for what it is – a bike race.

 

Check out Heathers previous guides:

Womens Cycling Planning Ahead

 

Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

 

Cycling Santa’s Christmas Shopping Guide 2015

Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, so we’ve all got together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint the fussiest cyclist or cycling fan in your life.

We’ve split our choices into four perfect price packages, click on the images to be taken to the retailers website.

Wishing you a Merry Festivemas from all at CyclingShorts.cc!

 

Secret Santa – under £30

 

Santa’s Little Helper – under £100

  

 

Something Beneath The Tree – under £500

 

Santa Baby – money is no object!

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 8 – Road Racing

Once you have got a few circuit races under your belt, you might like to have a go at road racing, after all, it’s what many people believe that cycling is all about!  However, there a few differences between road racing and circuit racing, so I thought it would be useful to explain them here.

The Open Road

Yes, that’s right, the majority of road racing in this country, whether you are male or female, is on the open road. That means that you are on the public highway and therefore have to abide by the rules of the road – for those of you who aren’t sure what I mean by this (and I have raced with a few (men and women) who don’t appear to be aware of this), it means that you stay on the left hand side of the road, because in the UK we drive on the left.  With the races being on the open road, this means that you have to be aware of other road users, including cars and lorries that come in the opposite direction.  If somebody goes on to the wrong side of the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle it can have horrific consequences, so you MUST be aware AT ALL TIMES that you have a duty to yourself and your fellow competitors to ride sensibly.  Have a look at my Dance Space article about giving yourself room.

(c) Martin Holden Photography

(c) Martin Holden Photography

Races are longer

This seems like I am stating the obvious but I will do anyway.  The races are longer (generally between 30 and 60 miles for both men and women) which means that the pace tends to be a bit more consistent than in a circuit race, helped by the fact that you probably won’t be sprinting out of a corner every 10 seconds like you sometimes end up doing in a circuit race.  Field sizes are generally larger as road races are more expensive to run and therefore need to have bigger fields, but that helps with the race distance as you get more shelter (in theory at least).  As the races are longer, you also need to have more stamina and endurance than you would in a circuit race, and need to ensure that you carry food with you for eating during the race (see my Practice! Practice! Practice! article for advice in this respect).  This can also mean that those riders who are great in circuit races may not be as good at longer road races and vice versa, so if you don’t think that the flat circuit races are for you, why not have a go at road racing?!

(c) Martin Holden Photography

(c) Martin Holden Photography

There’s different terrain

One of the limiting factors of circuit races is that they tend to be pan flat (there are exceptions, especially where town centre circuit races are concerned) and usually finish in a bunch sprint, so it can become a bit demoralising if you aren’t keen on being a sprinter.  However, road race circuits come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from shorter “kermesse” style races to longer circuits with a couple of climbs and descents in them.  Don’t expect to be great at everything, but certainly try and have a go at different circuits to see what suits you best.

Start at the right level

The good news is that road races can be a lot easier for novices than circuit races, especially those road races that are aimed at 2/3/4 category women, due to the length of the race and there being less corners.  The average speed for regional level races tends to be anywhere between 22 mph and 24 mph depending on the weather and the circuit and more often than not the pace eases up significantly, allowing you to have a bit of a breather.

Staying with the bunch is the key to success

This sounds really easy but it can be a bit of a nightmare when you are new to racing.  Many people will happily let the other riders go up the road if the pace goes up a bit, never to see the bunch again, but the road race that you entered then becomes a time trial, and you don’t get the same enjoyment for spending 35 miles of a 40 mile race off the back of the bunch.  Trust me, it may seem like really hard work at times when you are riding at a pace which you don’t feel comfortable with, however nine times out of ten the pace will ease off slightly and you get an opportunity to recover before the pace increases again.  Road racing is supposed to be hard and difficult, where your legs and lungs are burning as you try to keep up with people who are slightly fitter and faster than you, but the feeling at the end is worth it!

(c) http://martinholdenphotography.com

Be true to yourself

By this, I mean “don’t let other riders bully you in to doing something that you don’t want to do”. There will be many occasions in races where more experienced riders will shout at you to do some work.  You don’t have to do what they tell you to – it’s your entry fee and your race – but sometimes they might be saying it for good reason. Keep your common sense in tow and do what you think is right – if you’re about to blow up, don’t feel as if you have to do a turn on the front, sit in the wheels, get your breath back and you might be somewhere when it comes to the finish.

Road racing is fun, but it is hard work and is supposed to hurt your legs, so don’t give up as soon as they start hurting – battle through that pain for a couple of minutes at least (unless it is pain in relation to an injury when you should stop immediately) and you never know, you might surprise yourself!

(c) Martin Holden Photography

(c) Martin Holden Photography

Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

Introducing The Racing Chance Foundation

PRESS RELEASE

racing_Chance

The Racing Chance Foundation 

The growth in women’s cycling over the last few years has been phenomenal however there is still no clear structure in place for women who want to start competing and progress up the ranks.  No-one can deny that there is now more television coverage of women’s cycling thanks to events such as the Johnson’s Health Tech Grand Prix Series and now The Women’s Tour, but there is no clear pathway for women who aspire to compete in such events.

Until now.

Heather Bamforth talks through bike set up with riders.

Heather Bamforth talks through bike set up with riders.

The Racing Chance Foundation is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation so it has to remain transparent.  It has been registered as a charity with the Charity Commission (charity number 1156835) and has four trustees – Heather Bamforth, Alan Gornall, Colin Batchelor and Carley Brierley.  The charity’s intention is to provide a performance pathway for female cyclists in the UK who currently fall outside the existing track-based national programmes.  As such, the focus for the Foundation (for the time being at least) will be based on the road. Membership of the Racing Chance Foundation costs just £5 per year and gives cyclists exclusive access to races, events, a club shop, and a wealth of cycling knowledge & information.

The Foundation is currently developing sessions for all levels, from novice to elite, to help those riders who wish to develop their competitive cycling careers, with the first sessions planned for January 2015.  The aim is to provide assistance to riders by offering sessions that they can attend which will help develop their skills as competitive cyclists.  In addition, rather than providing grants to specific riders, one of the Foundation’s ultimate ambitions is to invite riders (at both a development and elite level) to compete in races as the Racing Chance Foundation, both in the UK and abroad, which will be funded by the Foundation.

We will be releasing details shortly regarding criteria for our elite and development squads.  What we can say in advance is that there won’t be a minimum number of licence points as a requirement.

The Foundation is affiliated to British Cycling and Cycling Time Trials and club membership is available to anybody (male or female) over the age of 16 (with parent/guardian permission if under the age of 18).  We don’t believe in solely trying to attract female membership; indeed the first races that we are organising in 2015 are two men’s events on the tough Bole Hill circuit in the Peak District.

RCF Kit by BioracerAs charity, the Racing Chance Foundation relies on donations to keep it going. They already have kit designed by Bioracer which is available to order, with profits going into the charity and, once established, RCF hope to be able to sell branded items in their online shop.  If you feel that you may be able to assist with the Foundation by supplying branded items, please email: [email protected]

The Trustees would like to thank Andrew Middleton of Towns Needham LLP for his invaluable assistance in registering the Foundation with the Charity Commission and Anna Magrath of Cycling Shorts for her assistance with the design and maintenace of the Foundation’s website and media management.

Further information can be found at the Foundation’s website (which is still partly in development): www.racingchancefoundation.com or by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

For press & media enquiries please contact: [email protected]

 

 

Get On Your Bike – Book Review

GetOnYourBikeAs the popularity of cycling has risen, so to have the number of cycling books to hit our selves. From the art and beauty of the bike, essential maintenance, the must-ride climbs and biographies from the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Get On Your Bike is a handy, almost pocket sized guide to cycling as an exercise. Written by three well known people in the industry, Rebecca Charlton (as seen on our TV screens), Robert Hicks (Cycling Weekly, Cycling Fitness and Cycling Active writer) and Hannah Reynolds (Editor at Cycling Weekly), GOYB sets out to help define why cycling is great exercise and how to find the happy medium with your bike, regardless of what type it may be.

Who’s the book for? 

Unlike most ‘cycling as fitness’ books, Get On Your Bike clearly states from the outset it isn’t a traditional fitness manual – there are no standard dietary plans or fitness regimes. Instead, it sets out to identify ways of losing weight and keeping fit through our love of riding the bike in every day situations, perfect for those just starting out, or as the intersecting case studies demonstrate, those that have found their way back to the bike after illness, injury or life getting in the way.

What will you learn?

The first third of the book sets out to identify how to buy the right bike and gear for you, from how to set up your position on the bike, the type of shoes and cleats to suit you, as well as exploring the best ways to find local cycle routes.

The middle section covers the safety essentials of cycling, key maintenance and tips on riding to work.

Whilst the latter part of the book moves onto fitness focus, starting with weight loss and nutrition, mental stability, health and finally how to manage injury.

Conclusion?

I think it’s easy to forget that we were all new to cycling at one point. I remember clearly how lost I was when I first got my road bike, searching YouTube videos on how to set up the cleats on my shoes, or even how to simply work the gears on my new toy! I was a little clueless, as I’m sure many who are picking up a new hobby are.

Built on short sections, it’s an easy to read guide. And new to cycling or not, it’s a great reminder that we’re not alone and why we all love to cycle. Would make a great Christmas Stocking filler for any budding cyclist in the family.

Rating: 75% out of 100

 

JerseyGetOnYourBikeRating

 

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

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