Friday, May 21, 2010

Rolling Along

By Rural Girl

One thing I've wanted for quite a while has been rollers. I don't really have a concrete reason why. It just seems to me that if you can master rollers, for some reason, you can REALLY ride a bike. Yeah, doesn't make a lot of sense on paper, but after getting on the things a few times, there might be some truth to it!!

Evotri's awesome sponsor, CycleOps, graciously has provided me with a set of rollers. They came in March, just when our weather was starting to warm up. In other words, it was tooooo nice outside after our long hibernation to spend one more minute inside than was necessary. Patiently, they waited. Finally, there were a few one-hour recovery rides on my schedule, which provided the perfect opportunity to test myself.

I was nervous! I've heard the stories about people flying off the side and didn't want that to be me. There really would be nothing stupider (other than using the word 'stupider' because it just sounds stupid) than falling off my rollers, injuring myself in April, and messing up my whole racing season. See, since I fell off my bike in September, 2009 and broke my elbow, I have a little fear in me. I've come to the realization that I CAN BREAK! That never really occurred to me before. I'm NOT invincible! If I let my head get in the way, I get to thinking I'm some osteoporotic, frail, little lady. All of the things (osteoporotic, frail, little) I do not want to be; EVER!!! Thus, I force myself to do things that push me outside the box. Enough already!

The set-up is astronomically simple.

1) Pull them out of the box.

2) Put the cable into the groove between the first rear roller and the front roller.

3) Separate the legs until they are flat.

4) Place on a level, hard surface. (Cannot be on carpet. The weight of the bike and rider will cause the rollers to rub and drag on the carpet.)

5) Position the front roller. The front roller is to be just in front of the front wheel when the bike is placed with the rear wheel centered between the two rear rollers. The rear rollers are not adjustable.

Ready to roll! Ha! Ha!

My first time up was scary. I placed the rollers between two counters in my kitchen, both within arms' reach.

I would recommend this approach, if it is accessible. My husband tried to help by holding on to the back of the seat and providing some stability. Finally, I just told him to go away! None of that was helping. I had to figure it out on my own. It literally took me 20 minutes before I felt remotely able to leg go of the counter for a few seconds. Every time I let go I would try to continue spinning for a longer and longer period of time. Within a half-hour, I was rolling along unassisted. Yeah! I've used my rollers three times now and can happily say the second and third rides were way easier! Off the counter in just one minute and actually able to take a drink without having to come to a complete stop!

The key seems to be focusing on just riding and NOT the possibility of falling. Picking a focal point out in front about 5-10 feet helped me to stabilize. Other things that helped were consciously engaging my core and avoiding jerky movements. I noticed that there was a bit of a delay between an action in the front end and its transmission to the back end. In other words, after turning the handle bars, there was a slight time lag and then the movement in the back was felt. At first this felt weird and made me want to over correct the other way, which obviously perpetuates the weaving movement. That's when I felt most likely to fly off the side.

I think the benefits of mastering rollers are improved CONFIDENCE and STABILITY. And who couldn't benefit from a little bit of both!? This all adds up to mean better bike handling skills; something that comes in handy when situations get a little sticky, and quick action is needed. I'm a roller novice, and am certain that if I CAN DO THIS, ANYONE CAN! I have not yet developed the skill to go one-handed, pull my water bottle from the holder, or even get into the aero position to switch gears. But I'll get there, and when I do, I'll be a better cyclist because of it!