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March 11, 2016
Photography by Malcolm Bloedel
It’s one of those skills that separates newer cyclists from those that have been riding for years: the humble track stand. The ability to maintain your balance while stationary, your feet clipped into the pedals, doesn’t just look impressive, it’s also extremely practical. No more unclipping at traffic lights, only to have to clip back in seconds later when the light turns green. Think of the valuable seconds you could be saving on your commute!
So how do you learn to track stand? We spoke to Melbourne cycling icon and former bike messenger Andy White of FYXO to find out.
Check out the video above to see how it’s done. And here are some tips in dot-point form:
1. Find a gentle incline to practise on. The key to track-standing is the balance between opposing forces — in this case, the force of gravity pushing your bike down the slope, and the force you’re applying to the pedals. We use this slope to mimic the “back-pedal” force you get when riding a track or other fixed-gear bike.
2. Find somewhere nice and open. You’ll want somewhere with plenty of room so you can easily ride out of a track stand that’s coming apart, ready to reset for the next attempt.
3. Keep your pedals at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock (horizontal). This foot position will give you the greatest control when trying to balance those opposing forces.
4. Look straight ahead. You’ll find it easier to keep your balance this way than if you look down. You’ll also be able to see when the traffic lights turn green (once you transition to the road).
5. Try it in sneakers to begin with. A big part of learning to track stand is gaining the confidence that you’re not going to fall and hurt yourself. By starting in sneakers, you don’t need to worry about losing your balance, trying unsuccessfully to unclip and then hitting the ground. Once you know you can do it, then try with your regular cycling shoes.
6. If you’re in a country where vehicles drive on the left, practise tilting your handlebars to the right. If cars drive on the right, lean your bars to the left. Why? Most roadways slope down towards the gutter so when it comes time to do a track stand on the road, it makes more sense to start close to the gutter then turn your bars away from the gutter (uphill). You’ll find that track standing uphill is considerably easier than on flat roads, and certainly easier than downhill. Again, it’s about using those opposing forces to your advantage.
7. Practise riding at slow speed. Track-standing is about balance, and about having confidence in your balance. Practise riding as slowly as you can, getting used to the feeling of controlling the bike at that speed. Again, start in sneakers to avoid any embarrassing mishaps.
8. Practise! Practise! Practise! This is the most useful piece of advice we can give. The more you do it, the better you will get. Before too long you’ll be able to track stand with one hand off the bars, and then with both hands off the bars.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start practising!