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Old 2016-08-30, 08:39 PM   #8
North Shore ridin'
johnfoss's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: El Dorado Hills, CA
Age: 57
Posts: 17,009
Originally Posted by OneTrackMind View Post
My main worry is falling back on the uni and getting a pedal in the back.
I don't think that's a big issue for learning to ride backward, you are more likely to come off the back and not be able to catch yourself.
Originally Posted by OneTrackMind
Can anyone offer advice on techniques to ensure unplanned dismounts while learning to ride backwards are as safe a possible?
Yes. Practice them. Just as learning to ride forward teaches us how to handle dismounts off the front, learning to ride backward should include concentration on how to dismount off the back (while going backwards). Practice this specifically (more on this below).
Originally Posted by LanceB View Post
- Use smooth pedals, not pinned.
- Wear elbow guards and a helmet with good rear protection (skateboard style).
Great advice! Though I did all of my early learning in my teens and 20s, before 'helmets were invented'
Originally Posted by song View Post
When I was getting started, I once experienced a sort of runaway train effect: I lost my balance and had to pedal faster and faster to regain it.
I think this happens to nearly everybody as they get more confident with their backwards riding. Think that scenario through... and plan for it. Two things you need to think about. First is how fast you want to be going when you dismount going backwards, which is probably not that fast. Second is, then, how to bail when you've already speeded up?

Practice the technique of big steps to the rear. This is where the non-pinned pedals also pay off. To counter your rearward speed, you're going to want to take long steps, in the effort of getting your feet out behind you so you can slow down. This either happens in the first 2-3 steps or doesn't, usually. It only works if you spend some time training yourself to do it.

Originally Posted by Alice Arctan View Post
Or you could turn the saddle around.
That's definitely a good idea if you are concentrating on just going backward. But if you're mixing it in with forward riding, better to just keep a wrench handy, and check the pedals for tightness after every hour or so of practice.

When going backward, your balance is the same. But a couple of major things are not the same. First the obvious: your head is facing the wrong way. Second is that your body is oriented the wrong way as well. Your body is made to go forward, and is pretty awkward at going backward. Your waist bends forward, but not so much to the rear. We often make deep bends at the waist to catch ourselves when riding forward; this doesn't work when going backward. So when possible, keep your speed at or below a brisk walking pace until you get more solid at doing it.

We used to do Backwards races. 50 meters. Eventually it was removed from the Track roster because of the obviousness of the danger level, going as fast as possible in reverse. And this was before 90% of racers were open to the idea of helmets.
John Foss

"The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have." -- Leonard Nimoy
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