We now describe four exercises:
- Speeding up
- Slowing down and stopping
- Riding on reducing/enlarging circles
- Riding straight with head and torso turned
The goal of this exercise is to experience that the bicycle becomes more stable as the speed increases. In this exercise, one makes use of soft handles, with which the cyclist receives dosed proprioceptive feedback about the stability of the bicycle. This exercise consists of two steps, the first being a preparation for the second:
- With squeezed soft handles, reach the target speed (approximately 15 km/h) as quickly as possible.
- Starting off with squeezed soft handles, get up to speed fast as possible such that one can relax the soft handles.
This exercise can be combined with a “bicycle path” that is marked with chalk lines or pylons. After getting up to speed, the cyclist has to cycle over the middle of this bicycle path. This bicycle path exists in two variants, one with the same width over the entire length, and another that narrows towards the end. When the bicycle path is included, this exercise also has a steering component, which requires visual input.
The goal of this exercise is to learn to slow down and stop as quickly as possible. After all, the slower one cycles, the more unstable the bicycle, and therefore the period of delay must be kept as short as possible. The exercise consists of three phases:
- Riding straight with relaxed soft handles.
- Press the soft handles and grasp the brake levers.
- Progressively squeeze the brakes to a halt.
As the cyclist improves, he has to reduce the braking distance, while maintaining the progressive squeezing of the brakes.
The goal of this exercise is the use of counter-steering to take a turn. The countersteering is experienced by the proprioceptive feedback from the soft handles. This exercise involves four phases:
- Ride on a circle that is so large that counter-steering is not/hardly experienced.
- Gradually reducing the diameter of the circle until countersteering is experienced (i.e., pressure on the front of the inner soft handle and the back of the external soft handle). When reducing the diameter, there are two points of attention:
- The speed must remain sufficiently high, because countersteering is only experienced when the speed is sufficiently high; at low speed you swing from left to right.
- As the diameter of the circle decreases, the cyclist turns head and upper body more and more to the inside of the turn. This is because, with the reduction of the diameter of the circle, the future movement target is shifting more and more towards the inside of the circle.
- Increase the circular diameter to the original size.
A crucial part of the instruction in this exercise pertains to the proprioceptive feedback that is experienced by using the soft handles. This feedback can only be clearly experienced when the cyclist’s hands lie relaxed on the soft handles. Once the hands lie relaxed on the soft handles, the cyclist can move them so that countersteering is more clearly experienced: the inner hand in front of the soft handle and the outer hand behind it.
Some cyclists continue to have the impression that they are not countersteering. Do not discuss this, but try to let the cyclist experience the countersteering. This can be done as follows:
- Ask the cyclist to ride at a speed that is high enough to be able to lay hands relaxed on the soft handles.
- Ask the cyclist to gradually shift his hands so that he can only turn the handlebars inwards (inside hand behind the soft handle and the outside hand in front of it). The cyclist will experience that, in this way, it is impossible to take a turn.
- Ask the cyclist to steer with the inside hand in front of the soft handle and the outside hand behind it. He will experience that, in this way, he can take the turn.
The goal of this exercise is to learn to cycle straight ahead with head and torso (upper body) turned. This usually happens when looking back. The difficulty in looking back is that, by turning the torso, the rider’s center of gravity moves in the direction of the turn. This tilts the bicycle, which then turns in the direction of the twisted torso. To continue driving straight ahead with a rotated torso, the cyclist must learn to press on the outside handle while turning the torso (right hand handle while turning to the left, and left hand handle while turning to the right). This exercise proceeds in four phases that repeat themselves. Phases 2 and 3 are sometimes performed to the left and sometimes to the right.
- Continue cycling with both hands relaxed on top of the soft handles.
- Riding straight ahead with one hand hanging down along the body (no longer resting on the soft handles).
- Riding straight ahead with head and torso turned in the direction of the hand that hangs down. At the same time as this rotation of the torso, the pressure on the other handle must increase, so that the cyclist keeps riding straight ahead with his torso turned.
- Turn the torso in the starting position and place both hands on the soft handles again.