Fourteen junctions. Eight potentially red traffic lights. Stopping buses. And the number of times I un-clip and put a foot down on the floor? Zero. That describes a typical commute home on the bike brought to you thanks to the underappreciated track stand.
For those of you who are unacquainted with the track stand it is basically a method of balancing on your bike stationary, without the rotational forces of the wheels aiding your balance. As the name implies it all started on the track before riders started their race or as a tactic to force their rival rider into the wind.
Any opportunity I get, I will practice doing track stands and perfecting my technique. Although I can happily do a track stand without holding the bars I have yet to be brave enough to try it in the real world in front of a live audience of drivers who would like nothing more than to see me become a comical heap on the road. There are lots of resources out there that will show you the technique for doing a track stand but let me just tell you that slight inclines are your friend, hence why it is so prevalent on a track with their frighteningly steep cambers.
If, like me, you ride in the UK then this can usually be achieved by pointing your front wheel to the right, the middle of the road) to take advantage of the camber used to drain away water from the road.
There is a bit of debate out there that doing a track stand is a bit, well, showing-off and I totally agree. I remember on one morning commute I was track standing at a roundabout when out of the corner of my eye (oh yeah staring a fixed point is helpful) I could see a group of teenagers school kids coming towards me. As they got closer I was pretty sure I was going to get pushed but actually the identifiable ring leader decided to compliment me on my “awesome balance”. Probably my finest achievement as a cyclist. Or as a human person.
The first time I tried clipless pedals (an annoying misnomer if ever there was one) I fell at a set of traffic lights approximately 1.3 miles from my house. There were cars there and an audience and I pretty much almost gave up my road cycling comeback right then.
The track stand has meant that this situation is avoided. As a consequence of my track standing prowess I have neglected to spend time refining my clipping in technique but you can’t have it all.