Going fast is fun, and it can even get you out of trouble once in a while. Let’s say the light turns yellow just as you enter a wide intersection. Unleash your sprint and you’ll get through before cross traffic starts moving.
Instant speed is another defense against dogs that have started after you. Most mutts will give up the chase as soon as you’re out of their territory, so it pays to get out quickly.
And of course, you may want to unleash your speed when it gets a bit cheeky with your riding buddies now and then.
Here are three keys to correct sprinting technique:
- As you jump from the saddle, don’t move too far forward. Keep your shoulders behind a vertical line from the front axle. Too much weight on the front wheel makes the bike hard to handle and actually scrubs speed.
- Keep your upper body fairly quiet. Sure, it’ll move some during the mayhem of a sprint, but don’t exaggerate it. Think of your back as a fulcrum with the bike like a pendulum swinging side-to-side under it.
- Pull up with your right hand as your right foot powers down (and left hand for left foot). This does something besides establishing a rhythmic transfer of energy – it keeps you from flipping over!
- It’s OK to sprint with your hands on the hoods if it’s an “emergency” (getting across that intersection on yellow, or accelerating away from Cujo). But when you really mean it, get down in the drops, which makes you most aerodynamic. It’s also the hardest position in which to control the bike while going hard, so practice the handling techniques well.
Make practice fun by sprinting for road signs or other landmarks with your friends. It won’t be long before you’re comfortable with all-out accelerations (and looking for reasons to make them).