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The Single Best Thing You Can Do To Improve as a Cyclist

Over the years, we’ve explored a host of topics to help cyclists improve their craft. Tapping into Coach Darryl MacKenzie’s wealth of knowledge and experience, we’ve shared tips on everything from must-have cycling equipment to habits that will boost your cycling performance. We’ve offered insights on best practices for bike maintenance and what to eat before a big ride.

Yet, we’ve rarely touched on the core skill that’s integral to lifelong cycling success. It’s something you must learn at a young age, and there is a simple thing you can do to maintain and even improve this skill as you age. 

Curious what it is? Read on to learn more.

The Most Important Skill for Cycling

Think back to when you first learned to ride a bike. What did it take to finally break through so that you could pedal without the help of an adult or a set of training wheels?


It’s what you’re missing when your wheels wobble and you topple to the pavement on those first attempts. And it’s what finally clicks when you can suddenly pedal freely and never look back. 

But it’s also something that you start to lose as you get older. 

“They say that once you know how to cycle, you never forget it,” says Coach Darryl. “While that is indeed true to a point, there is one thing that you lose over time, and that is your balance.”

According to research, balance naturally begins to decline around age 50. While many adults can stand on one foot for more than a minute, the average 50-year-old can only do so for 45 seconds. At 70, that time drops to 28 seconds.

That decline will inevitably affect not only your ability to pedal slowly on the bike but your quality of life as a whole. Falling, whether on the bike or in other situations later in life — can be incredibly damaging. 

One Simple Way To Maintain Balance as You Age

The good news is that you don’t have to accept this precipitous decline in your balance. There’s a small thing you can do to slow the effects of aging. In fact, you may even be able to improve your balance with age.

All you have to do is implement one simple habit: When you stand up or sit down, do it without using your hands.

This is something you can practice throughout the day, every day, in a wide variety of situations. Start on firm surfaces for better leverage, then work on more difficult situations. For instance:

  • Stop relying on your hands when you stand up from the dining room table or a toilet.
  • Once you’ve mastered that, work on getting off the couch or out of living room chairs. Scoot toward the front of the seat to get your feet firmly underneath you.
  • Then you can work on getting in and out of cars. To get out, rotate 90 degrees and plant both feet, leaning forward to shift your center of gravity. To get in, make sure you have one foot close to the car while you shift your other one into the foot well. You might plop down, but keep working on maintaining a steady balance as you slowly descend into the seat.

As you master this skill, you can work on it in other contexts — at work, while you exercise, or virtually anywhere. 

How This Habit Changed Coach Darryl’s Life 

It’s astoundingly simple, but this little habit transformed Darryl’s experience as a cyclist — and it improved his quality of life. He started practicing it at age 60, and it’s become a part of his daily routine ever since. It did more than just slow down the natural decline of balance with age; it actually made his balance better than ever.

“I never dreamed it would be something that would improve my balance.”

Now, even in his 70s, Darryl finds he has fewer moments during slow-speed pedaling when he’s concerned about falling over. That one simple change may have made it possible for him to keep cycling well into his later years.  

Give it a try, and see how it goes. We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!


You can find more of Coach Darryl’s thoughts over at his website.

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels