Power vs Skillful Riding

Author Cory Fagan

Lessons from Riding in Colombia
This was our third camp with the Colombia Cycling group this time starting from Bogota. We have learned a lot about skillful riding from our previous trips which has helped our coaching and bike fitting. You can learn a lot by riding through some of the most beautiful and challenging roads in the world.
However, this year was a May camp and we hadn't been outside much. We have also had a long winter and a long pandemic with no travel! Our first day always starts with a skills session so we can inform the guides who they are going to be touring this year. After a few minutes the head guide, Tomas, stopped everyone. Tomas asked me "Cory, why does everyone have their hands on the cross-bar and not on the hoods (brakes)?!" I smiled and said "Yes, I see Tomas, this is what we call Zwift riding technique." Tomas was worried as Colombia riding is very challenging requiring focus on the terrain and not on your bicycle computer! We quickly addressed the situation and essentially told everyone to look ahead and focus! Our poor riding technique was understandable, we live in cold climate for six months and have to train indoors!

The second relevation of the trip came with our fixation on stats. We love to talk about our power and FTP. Power is important but so is skill. The Colombians do not have big wattages, but they do have skill. They know how stand efficiently while climbing enabling them to have tremendous power. Combine this with their cornering and descending skills, they are amazing riders. Something we should think about every year as we head outside.
So, what are you going to do to your refresh your bike skills each season? Every other sport has practices. Why not cycling? There is risk and high speeds so you think we would practice our skills more often. Here are few checklists to go over which will help improve your skills but power too!

  • Standing. Can you do a short climb (i.e. 300m) standing all the way up?
  • Braking. Are you comfortable using your front and rear brake?
  • Cornering. What line do you take going into a turn?
  • Starting. Can you start on a uphill?
  • Descending fast. Where do you look, what is your body position?

Overall, Colombia was again a wonderful trip that resulted in everyone coming home with an altitude boost, new riding skills and even more power! Stay tuned for our next trip to the cycling paradise!

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