Two (more) ways to be confident on your bike

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you a few bike tips to practice on your own, straight from our City Cycling class curriculum.

This is part two – skills you can practice to get out of a dangerous situation if you ever need to. We teach them at the advanced section of our City Cycling class, called Confident City Cycling.

Come to a class to get tips from our instructors. In the meantime practice these moves on your way  to work, en route to the grocery store, heading to the block party, etc.

They’re fun and simple once you get the hang of them, but if they don’t come naturally at first – hang in there! Some of these maneuvers are counter intuitive, and they take time to get used to.

1. The quick stop. 



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This maneuver involves shifting your weight backward, which will make you stop faster. When we press both brake levers to stop, our weight naturally shifts forward. However, the more weight we apply to the rear wheel, the faster it will come to a controlled stop without skidding.

So, you’re coming to a stop sign.

A. Make sure your pedals are level:


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B. Take your butt off your seat and shift backward, toward the rear wheel (this is the part that might feel dangerous or destabilizing at first). Once you get more comfortable with parting ways with the seat, you can even try to shift your weight far enough back so that your stomach is resting on your seat.

At first it might feel like this:


Scary, strange, but empowering, no? (Image via)

But it should look something like this:

quick stop speed suit

No speed suit required.

More importantly, see how our model’s stomach is resting on his seat, and his weight is shifted toward the rear wheel?

This will give you more stability and stopping power, whether you’re on your way to an important job interview or heading out with friends.

Best place to practice the quick stop: I like to try my hand at the weight shift on streets with lots of stop signs. For instance, 11th Street in Northwest DC is a good road to try superwoman moves on the fly.

2. The Rock Dodge

The rock dodge is exactly what it sounds like: a technique to dodge small objects that could jolt you unpleasantly, or even cause a flat tire or a crash.


Practice quickly flicking your handlebars to the left, which will cause your body to lean to the right and bring your front wheel safely around the dangerous object. Your rear wheel should snake around the other side of the object, avoiding it entirely.


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Rock: Dodged. You: Not going to be late for an important date.


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Best place to practice the rock dodge: Plenty of streets in the DC region have lots of potholes worthy of a dodge – let us know if you find one that’s worthy of an award.

Look for more tips to be confident on your bike in this series, or come to a City Cycling class to get our take on these techniques. We’ll return with a full slate of fall classes in late August.