Skills School: How to Trackstand
While no one can agree on a spelling, the trackstand (track stand?, track-stand?, balancing on your bike without moving) is an important skill to learn if you ever want to race match sprints at the velodrome or look like a boss at the next red light.
While at first blush, trackstanding looks like it would involve some form of complicated bike voodoo, it’s actually a fairly simple technique to learn, all it takes is a bit of practice. In this post we’ll teach you how to keep your feet on the pedals, even when your bike’s stationary.
Step 1: Come to a stop
Slow your bike down and come to a stop with your pedals level. Most riders prefer to settle with their dominant foot back, but do whatever feels comfortable to you. Stand up out of the saddle as you slow down and focus on keeping your weight centered over the bottom bracket. Eventually you'll be able to stay seated, but starting out it's easier to get a feel for the balance if you're standing on the pedals.
Step 2: Turn the wheel and put pressure on the pedals
Once you’ve come to a stop, turn the wheel towards your lead foot. Now, the trick to a trackstand is to move the bike underneath you ever so slightly to correct as you feel yourself start to lose balance. Push with your lead foot and pull up with your back foot to roll the bike forward – Push with your back foot and pull up with your lead foot to scoot the bike back.
Using the photo of Jason as an example, pushing on his right foot will move the bike forward and lean the bike to the left, pushing with his left foot will back the bike up and lean it to the right. All you have to do is alternate between the two as you wait for the light to change or your opponent to make his move!
Step 3: Practice
Seriously. Find a park, a parking lot, that patch of dirt behind the school – anywhere you can spend some time riding your bike without going anywhere, free from hecklers and ideally with some cushion in case you bail. It’s a proven fact that the success of a trackstand is inversely proportional to the number of witnesses (and it’s logarithmic when the spectators are hotties). The best thing to do is practice alone until you’re 100% you won’t tip over in front of your crush.
- Foot retention: Straps, clips, anything that holds your feet in place makes trackstanding easier, once you know how. At that point the ability to pull up on the pedals will make everything a bit more fluid, but before then it’s a good way to make sure you go down when you lose your balance. Practice unclipped at first until you get the hang of it, then strap in.
- Learn on an incline: Rolling the bike “backwards” can feel super unnatural to some people, so you can let gravity do the work while you get the hang of it! Practice with your bike facing slightly up a driveway, toward the crown of the road, or against a small speed bump, that way you can focus on pushing forward to maintain balance and let the bike naturally roll back to correct in the opposite direction.
- Look ahead: Staring at your front wheel and your feet is super tempting, but it also makes it really easy to shift your weight too far forward and makes it harder to maintain balance. Instead, try to keep looking straight ahead and feel the bike underneath you. You’ll look cooler than the kid next to you staring at his hub and you’ll be able to see the light change or your opponent starting his sprint!
- Practice: Did we already mention this? Practice, practice, practice. It’s the best way to get better at things in general and the only way to get better at trackstanding!