To follow are a couple of skills to practice on your bike in a quiet, empty place like a car park, school/sports ground, wide bike path. Trying these skills is meant to challenge your balance in a safe environment and in a way that you feel like you are in control. Only move onto a harder stage when you feel confident about what you have completed.
Ride in a straight line. Great to practice this where there are actual lines for you to stay on. Sounds pretty simple but it can be challenging. How long can you maintain the straight line for? As you get better at this skill try to go slower. The slower you go the harder it is to maintain your balance and keep your bike upright. You may eventually be going so slow that it is easier to stay balanced up out of your seat, balancing on your pedals.
Straight line while looking back. This skill definitely requires good balance and is an essential part of riding in traffic or a group. To begin with don’t turn very far, keep your torso straight and turn your neck for a quick scan only. Do this several times to one side while trying to keep your bike moving forward in a straight line. We recommend practicing to your right as this will be where most of the traffic or things you need to see are – we ride on the left). Remember what we said about speed above so make sure you are going fast enough (but not too fast) to make this achievable. When you have mastered one side try turning your neck to the other side.
To practice turning for longer it is really important that you have a good distance of straight clear riding space in front of you. To turn for longer take one hand off the handlebar and open up your body while twisting your back to get a good view of whats happening behind you. If you need to you can break this skill down into stages. First ride with one hand only on the handlebar maintaining good balance and a straight riding line. When you feel good about this practice the back twisting movement while still looking ahead. When you feel balanced doing this add the final bit of the turn – your head.