Close Riding Drills – Improving Your Ability to Move Up In Tight Spaces

The ability to move up in a tight group or pass on a narrow trail can often make the difference between a podium and a mid-pack finish in a road or MTB race. Some people seem to have the knack or the nerve to move through spaces that are much smaller than others can comfortably pass. You can develop the relevant skills and confidence though. Here are some drills to help:

For MTB racers, go for a ride with one or more friends and do a reverse rotating paceline. The rider on the front sets a comfortable endurance pace and the rider in the back passes at the first opportunity and then starts setting a comfortable endurance pace so the other rider can try passing. Keep on rotating that way. Start with double-track trails and fire roads. When you are comfortable passing always within a few seconds there, try single track. On single track you may have to wait longer to for a wide spot, but when you’ve been doing it for a while, your definition of “wide” should start changing.

For road racers, go for a ride with one or more friends. Set up a reverse rotating paceline where the rider on the front sets a comfortable endurance pace  and the rider on the back moves up the gutter to take over the lead at a comfortable endurance pace. At first leave plenty of room for the rider moving up in the gutter. As you gain comfort, reduce that space. If you have access to a stretch of road with a dirt shoulder that is even with the road so there is no high-lip, try having the steady pace riders stay near the edge of the pavement while the moving up rider does so on the dirt. If you find that easy, do it somewhere that the pavement does have a lip and bunny hop back onto the pavement.