Track stands for fun and profit

November 21, 2008 at 06:30 PM | categories: Bicycle, Health | View Comments |

I've been riding a fixed gear bicycle daily to work (10 mile commute round-trip) for over a year now. I love riding fixed gear. I wrote several articles about my experiences building my own fixie on this blog. Something I learned how to do pretty recently was to do a track stand. If you haven't heard the term before, a picture speaks a thousand words - here's someone doing a no-hands track stand: Anyway I learned to do a basic track stand - that is standing, with one or two hands on the handlebars, a couple of months ago. My friend Nathaniel Cafolla, who in addition to being a talented marine scientist and all-around great guy has worked a fair bit as a courier in Dublin and has amazing knowledge of all things bicycle, taught me the basic technique over the summer. I must say its a lot of fun, very satisfying to do. Although I'm pretty good at it now, I've embarked on the next step - track stand while seated. I can do this successfully about 70% of the time. My goal is to eventually be able to do a no-hands track stand. I'm working towards that by doing seated track stands with just one hand on the handlebars. I'm pretty sure that within a month or two I'll be able to do it with no hands. So whats the point. Well, its nice not to have to take your feet off your pedals while stopped at a light. It also looks cool, and is fun. Its one of those little skills thats great to work on a little every day. I think it also improves balance to some degree, and forces you to relax into "the zone" - like most balancing feats, its easier if you clear your mind and don't over think what you're doing. I find that track standing on steep hills can require quite a of bit leg strength, too. Just as riding a bicycle regularly is a nice thing to add to your routine, and riding a fixed gear is a nice variation, practicing a track stand is worth mixing in too. A little test of strength, co-ordination and balance is just the thing to spice up your commute while you're waiting for a light to change! Enjoy.

Niall O'Higgins is an author and software developer. He wrote the O'Reilly book MongoDB and Python. He also develops Strider Open Source Continuous Deployment and offers full-stack consulting services at

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