Trackstand School

Besides hypnotizing motorists at stop lights, trackstanding indicates a level of skill both on the track and on cities streets. Mark V can trackstand any bike at any time – seen him do it with a folder and cargo. He does it while eating a burrito during his lunchbeaks at the shop, to keep his skills sharp.

Track stand show off

On occasion I ride fixed and have been doing so more while recovering from busted-up ribs. On the fixie, I focus on my legs, cadence, and control because I can’t do much yet with my body above the hips. Yesterday Mark V rode up on me on Alaskan Way and, of course, trackstanded at the next light. Being a competitive person, I attempted to match his skills with mixed results. Later on Twitter, I tweeted

Mark V said a Track Stand does not involve forward motion? What? What is that called then when you don’t clip out and move a little bit?

@JohnFriedrich replied

I guess on average it involves no forward motion, but a trackstand is a nice example of dynamic stability. Meaning moving.

Mark decided that I was stepping up with my Trackstanding and wrote in email:

“Dynamic stability” is defined in different ways depending on the context. In the engineering/physics sense, the term usage is kinda grey in the context of trackstands since a good trackstand is near motionless. The physics term applies better to actually riding the bike, when there is distinct forward motion. In the physics sense, it is usually used to describe the behavior of a vehicle whose stability changes under different conditions of travel (eg braking, turning, etc).

In the physiotherapy sense, “dynamic stability” describes a body that tends to return a “normal” or original condition (eg upright per se) after some sort of disturbance. For example, I punch you in the arm, but you don’t fall over. In this context, it doesn’t imply forward motion, though it doesn’t exclude it.

Regardless, both of you are throwing around terms to rationalize the fact that you can’t do a trackstand. Standing means not moving in much the same sense that a person standing isn’t “motionless” in the pure physics sense…it means he’s not walking forward. I don’t need to consult Einstein to be able to distinguish the difference between a man standing and one stumbling forward to keep from falling on his face.

The trick to a trackstand is that you rock the bike fore and aft to maintain balance, though the net forward progress is zero. A well-executed trackstand would have an almost imperceptibly low amplitude movement (and zero net movement). If you are moving forward while trying to trackstand, that is “riding”, albeit very slowly and very awkwardly.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I gotta call it like it is. With time and practice, most intermediate riders or better can master a serviceable trackstand under favourable conditions. You want to say you can do a trackstand?

Earn it.

Damn straight.

Bonus if done in overalls and workboots.

On a basket bike.

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9 Comments

Actually - to be a nitpicker, those are Road Stands.  Track stands are with the bars steered to the right up and against the banking.  Road Stands with the bars to the left is way easier for me for some reason.

I can do neither, well I can for a few seconds. Also was doing some fixed skidding yesterday, but only really short cause I don’t want to ruin a Pro 3s.

trackstanding on the road is easier with wheel pointed left because 1) most people have road bikes which cannot backpedal 2) in the N America cars and bikes ride on the righthand side of the road 3) most roads have a slight crown to them. on any bike which you cannot backpedal (ie not a fixed gear), it’s easier to trackstand while pointed up an incline.  by pointing the wheel to the left, you are taking advantage of the road’s crown to achieve a slight incline.
yes, this does mean you tend to point the wheel to the right while trackstanding in the UK. but i point the wheel wherever i need to be comfortable trackstanding.
on a fixed gear, you can backpedal, so you don’t really need to use the crown. on a fixed gear i tend to always point the wheel to the right, regardless of whether the bike is on the flat, pointed uphill or downhill.
on a velodrome, you almost always trackstand wheel pointed right, bike pointed somewhat down the banking. the reason is that you can use the banking to help you start moving again.

“I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I gotta call it like it is. With time and practice, most intermediate riders or better can master a serviceable trackstand under favourable conditions. You want to say you can do a trackstand?

Earn it”

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. I probably could have taken more than thirty seconds to compose my tweet before and maybe I could have been clearer but when I’m doing a trackstand at a light, in the shop, on the trail, on my mountain bike, on my fixie or on my Xtracycle- with two, one, or no hands on the handlebars my net forward motion is zero. There most certainly is movement, generally less when I’m feeling calm and balanced, more when I’m flustered or my chain is a bit loose. Motion, Yes. Movement, no. Sorry for the confusion.

Earned.

John

John, that was directed towards me and how I was annoying Mark at the intersection by trackstanding + motion, which means I can only hold it for a few seconds, then move a bit or a lot.

Ah ok. Sarcasm/smartassery is hard to detect on teh webs. Sorry.

John F.

John:

Byron INVITES the verbal abuse, don’t sweat the crossfire.

Like how I took you in the Sprint yesterday?

WTF? if that were a race, it woulda been a photo finish of me winning… if it was a SATELLITE photo! 
I wanted to talk shit to you as i crossed the finish but i didn’t have my cellphone on me!

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