Ever since I found out what a track stand is (early on this year) I have wanted to learn how to do them. Besides being “cool”, I could imagine how handy this skill would be at intersections.
I watched some videos online and tried it myself. The cyclists I saw made it look so easy, but I couldn’t even get myself to stop fully, I was too chicken. Whenever I slowed almost to a stop and felt unsteady, I would unclip and put my foot down to avoid falling.
For a few days I tried to overcome that instinct but to no avail. So I quit trying because the only thing I seemed to be learning was how to clip out of my pedals at lighting fast speeds.
That was months ago.
This Sunday, I spent the afternoon biking in the snow. In some places it was very deep, making it really tricky to get enough momentum to start pedaling. There were moments when for a split second there was no forward motion whatsoever and I was just balancing from side to side. It slowly dawned on me,
“If you can do this, you can do a track stand.”
Yesterday, I re-watched the track stand videos.
Then I went to a secluded grassy field and confidently started practicing. My confidence melted away as quickly as our snow has-I found myself doing the very same thing that I had been doing months before-putting my foot down when the bike felt unstable.
I realized I was trying to do too much, too fast: I needed to take baby steps. I went around the field again, this time never actually stopping, just getting my body and bike into the right position.
Then I began using my brakes and stopping fully, but only for a microsecond, pedaling away before I felt the urge to put my foot on solid ground. Around and around the field I went, slowly gaining confidence and lasting longer at each stop. Inevitably, at some point I would prolong my attempt at balancing too long and be forced to take my foot off the pedal to save myself. Then I would go back to microseconds and build up again.
After a good half hour, I had a track stand last for what seemed like a long time (maybe a full second or two, haha) and pedaled out of it successfully. I decided to end my practice on a positive note, so I went home.
Today I worked in the morning and on the way home I practiced again. It felt more natural this time.
Body out of the saddle, arms and legs slightly bent, eyes at the horizon, fingers gently touching the brakes, wheel at an angle…
I worked up to balancing a bit longer than I was able to yesterday. Once again, after a track stand that felt really good, I stopped practicing and finished my ride home.
I need quite a bit more practice before I can take this skill on the road, but I am finally making real progress.
Thank you, snow!