By Adam Muys, Head BMX Racing Coach with Cycling Canada

It currently might be a challenge to go out and do the riding you normally would be doing this time of year. Nevertheless, it is also a great opportunity to shift gears from the regular training, rides or races you normally do and to explore and try something different. We are often focused on the next race or training goal and gloss over some of the basic riding skills that lead to success.

We talk a lot about having world class basics and a simple way to build on these basic skills is to work on them in a small confined area. Using Futsal as an example for skill development for soccer, the same can be done on a bicycle. If you are unfamiliar with Fustal, it is a soccer game played on a small court with particular emphasis on the skills of passing, dribbling and close control. In the confined area, players all touch the ball more and have to focus on control.

Before your next ride or just for fun on its own, find an area; it could be a driveway, empty parking lot or a safe spot on the street. Get some cones and set up a course. Don’t have cones? You can get creative with water bottles, sticks, gloves or pop cans. This can be an easy way to work on cycling fundamentals that may be limiting your riding. The fundamentals include cornering, sprinting, bunny hops, manuals and wheelies. It’s recommended that this be done on flat pedals (not clipped in), but it doesn’t have to be. Bunny hops should always be developed on flat pedals, no matter what bike you’re on.

The set up can vary from a single line of cones to weave in and out of, to a complex course that includes figure 8’s, sprint sections, skinnies or obstacles to bunny hop over. The possibilities are endless. You could create dual Ninja Warrior courses for competitive fun.

Examples of drills:

  • Weave in and out of cones on two wheels or one
  • Figure 8, turning hard and accelerating out of the corners
  • Acceleration sprints between cones, you can then add in a quick turn followed by another sprint
  • Set cones at 2m intervals and then see how many cones you can manual or wheelie over (bring back the wheelie!)
  • Standing start 3 pedal wheelie, try to wheelie for 3 pedal strokes from a standing start

Combine 3 or 4 drills to make an exciting course. This can be done alone or make it a challenge with a friend. Get the whole family involved!

It’s amazing how much fun you can have in a small space, the time will fly by.

Quick tips:

Manual: Shift your weight down and back, like an L. This will pop your wheel up and get you back and low to keep your wheel up. Cycling Canada has a video tutorial you can watch on their Facebook page which explains it in more detail.

Bunny hop: Explode the ground away from you (think of how you jump off the ground with your feet), then scoop the bike up.  Don’t just pull up. I repeat…this MUST be learned while not being clipped in. You will only cheat by pulling up with clips and your max height will only be about 6”.  If you are doing the skill correctly you can easily bunny hop much higher.

Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!