Cycling 101: Standing up – your key to comfort!

A rider asked me about standing up.  They said in spin classes, they could stand up and it was easy.  On a bicycle, it always felt wobbly.  This is TRUE!

A spin bikes contact point with the floor is at LEAST 18-24″ wide.  Your bikes contact point with the road is about 1″ wide.  Let go of a spin bike, it falls over.  Let go of any bicycle – it falls over.  That being said – standing up on a *REGULAR* basis is a key to keeping your butt happy on a long bike ride.  It relieves pressure on your crotch, it stretches your legs, back, neck and anything else you want to stretch… but how do you do it?

Let’s break down some basics to get you started.

The first step is getting used to how the bike feels when standing up.  I suggest you find a flat, open, car free stretch of road.  Ride down the road at a good comfortable speed, hold onto your brake levers (on a road bike), with your pedals in a 3-9 position (level to the ground) gradually ease out of the seat.  Rise up as much as you feel comfortable.  Coast for a bit.  Enjoy the feeling!  As your speed slows, slowly move back into the saddle and start pedaling again.   Each “try” should last from about two to ten seconds.

Try this basic step as many times as you want, as often as you want – for the rest of your cycling career!  The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be.  You don’t have to do this all day, just until you feel more comfortable or understand how the bike feels.

Once you are comfortable with this, you can try some “advanced” standing and stretching.  That is, as you rise out of the saddle, put one foot at the bottom and drop your heel. This will stretch your calves.  Pedal around half way and stretch the other.  You can also push your pelvis forward and stretch your abs, obliques and other core muscles that have been “bunched up” for a while.  This relieves your back a little as well.  I find on-bike stretching to be very relieving.

As you progress in your standing – you can attempt to pedal while standing.  This is MUCH easier “under power”.  That is, when going up a hill or in a big gear.  As you pedal, the bike will move around under you.  This is COMPLETELY normal.  The change of weight distribution and power delivery will move things around.  Do not be alarmed.  Your bike does NOT want to fall over when it is moving.  Unlike our coasting standing up, I suggest you start standing up on a gentle hill, so you are applying some power.  On the “downstroke” gently rise out of the saddle. and keep pedaling.   You will feel a surge of power.  Now, you are using your leg muscles and your body weight to propel the bike.  This will make help you get up the hill or go faster.  Unfortunately, it will wear you out faster.  Your butt is no longer supporting you, your legs are!  This is great for stretching, sprinting, climbing – see where YOU like to do it!

Eventually – this will become as natural as getting up and walking to the kitchen, it just takes some practice!

Special Note About Trainers:  On any static trainer, your bike will feel funky when you stand up.  Any time you stand up on the road, your bike moves around a bit.  When the bike is fixed/held stationary, this movement is not possible.  I’ve mastered standing up on a bicycle on a banked velodrome, but the trainer still feels weird.  This is normal and not something to be overly concerned about!  Relax, stretch and get back to riding!