Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Christian Prochnow (GER) mounting his bike, on the way to a
5th place finish at the 2008 ITU Hamburg World Cup.

This series of videos outlines a drill progression to a flying mount. If you have other ideas/suggestions to teach this skill to athletes, let me know.

(Edit: sometimes the videos play at double speed when viewing them for the first time. Let the video play through, and start it again - it should play at normal speed the second time)

STEP 1. Start with DISMOUNTS. Once your athletes have mastered dismounts (both sides), they have the required flexibility, proprioception and balance to begin working on mounts.

  • The introduction to mounts should be done on a grass field.
  • Mountain bikes and/or lowered saddles make skill acquisition a little easier.
  • Drills should be done in running shoes - athletes who normally use cycling shoes can progress to cycling shoes after mastering the mount

STEP 2. At walking speed, with a mount line, simply ask the athletes to mount their bike - don't coach them through the skill, just assess what they can do. Most will do it like this (video below). If modifications are required, keep it simple: two hands on the handle bars, eyes forward, swing leg over the bike, land gently on saddle, find the pedals. Encourage an upright bike, and riding in a straight line after mounting the bike. Give your athletes a chance to try this for several reps.

STEP 3. Speed things up to a light jog. The same cues apply: two hands on the handle bars, eyes forward, swing leg over the bike, land gently on saddle, find the pedals. Athletes should aim to keep the bike upright rather than leaning it towards them - this will enable them to ride in a straight line as soon as they are on the saddle. Note that the take-off foot touches back down (essentially a hop) before the athlete lands on the saddle. For the majority of athletes, this happens naturally, and does not need to be coached. Athletes who don't use this hop have essentially leapfrogged to Step 4, so it's not necessary to teach them to hop.

STEP 3a. The same light jog with a hop, on a road bike. With taller athletes, or athletes with road bikes, we encourage running the bike by the saddle, rather than running with two hands on the handlebars.

NOTE: If athletes only get to Step 3, they will be just as fast as if they get to step 4. The difference in speed is virtually non-existent between the two. Regardless, most athletes will want to try for the full flying mount, because it's a (slightly) more difficult skill, and because they associate it with elite racing.

STEP 4. The leap of faith. Almost identical to step 3, except that the take-off foot does not touch the ground after the initial jump. Encourage athletes to make the landing as soft as possible. Some athletes will need to be instructed to take more body weight onto their arms, or to limit the height of their jump. Continue to encourage an upright bike, eyes forward, and straight riding.

STEP 5. Once you are satisfied that your athletes are able to approximate the skill, develop games/relays/challenges which employ the skill and add difficulty. Here's a simple transition challenge, incorporating Kelly Guest's Helmet Game, and a Bike Mount. Note that we stay on the grass for now. Enforce triathlon rules when necessary; in this example, several athletes were "disqualified" for mounting before the mount line.

STEP 5a. Move to a parking lot when the athletes are ready. One challenge we use is a mount/dismount progression across a series of parking spaces, using the yellow lines. It allows for lots of mounts/dismounts in a short period of time, and the painted lines provide immediate feedback on whether or not the athletes are riding a straight line after they mount the bike.

This progression covers the basics. With the group of youth athletes (age 9-14 years) in these videos, we moved through the progression in ~30mins. We'll need to review these skills over the coming weeks, but the basics are established. Most youth/junior athletes can acquire these skills at a fairly quick rate.

From here, you can integrate mounts into other games, relays, challenges or training sets. Athletes who ride with cycling shoes should start with dismounts (taking their feet out of the shoes, then dismounting) before trying a mount with shoes attached to the pedals.

Comments/suggestions/revisions welcome. Have fun.

(EDIT: I found these additional videos from the 2007 OAT Junior Camp.)

"Hop Mount" similar to Step 3 above, with cycling shoes attached. With further refinement, more time should be spent looking forward, with a quick glance down prior to hop, and quickly looking forward again once on the saddle.

Flying mount. Note that the bike turns sharply during the mount because it is not held vertical prior to the jump. 

Clean mounts from an internationally experienced junior competitor. Bike stays vertical, landing is soft, and feet immediately move to top of shoes.


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