Years ago, I wrote a few articles on basic alpine ski racing technique. This was just a way of getting cheap race skis, and in no way was a reflection of my ability or certification level. The information contained in the articles was mostly derivative, so I'm relatively sure no lawsuits are forthcoming from people that followed my advice. In one, I focused basic stance. Nothing earth-shattering there, but I basically hit on the one concept I use for all sports- functional tension.
I wish I had a fluid riding style, but I usually engage too many muscles and waste too much energy needlessly with bad form. The more I focus on it, the worse I ride- or so it seems. I'm amazed by the style and skills of riders like new World Champion Peter Sagan. It all looks so effortless for them. They are connected to the bike in a way that makes it another appendage. My bike looks like it's desperately trying to escape the flailing tub of lard on top of it.
There's a disconnect there that's rooted firmly between my ears. I tend to think about stuff too much, analyzing the approach and potential results. I tense up when I should stay loose. I grab brakes when I should just let the tires roll. My elbows lock. My torso seizes. I'm my own worst enemy.
That's probably why riding off pavement never really took hold with me. I was constantly over-analyzing every rock and root, ensuring that my body was properly knotted to inflict maximum damage. Tips thrown my way were immediately applied with little success. I just never got good enough to get over myself and just ride.
I do get glimmers of it on the road once in a while. My Star of David pedaling pattern mellows into circles for a mile or so, or I manage to arc a turn without melding the brake levers into the bar tape. I allow the bike to move underneath me instinctually. It's a fleeting experience that usually ends in me going over the handlebars or sliding across the pavement, but it's fun while it lasts.
Despite my desperate attempts to prevent it, it's raining and cold. Trainer season may be upon me. Whatever fluidity I may have developed over the summer will fade faster than my tan lines. I may dig out the rollers to try to stall the decline, but after I ride into the walls a few times steering to make that turn I saw on the DVD or Zwift, I may just stick to a more fixed training method to prevent further bodily injury. My form will suffer. By spring, it will have degraded to the point baby moose floundering in the snow will look down on my uncoordinated efforts.
It happens every year.
I'll never be smooth like Sagan, but maybe next year I'll get a little better. Maybe the year after that, I'll take another step. At that pace, I might approach some semblance of good form by the time I become one of those ancient cyclists that everyone finds inspiring because they're still moving.
It's a goal to work towards.


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