Saturday, December 6, 2014

No hands tight turns

Went on just a little ride today, Carkeek Park, a little holiday shopping. Ben came with, but Mac stayed behind, though the weather was nice we wanted to walk trails that dogs aren't allowed on. Normally I'd eschew any path where my dog wasn't welcome, but since we were shopping later anyway, my basket jingled emptily. We went to the park to pick out the spot we'd get married in this coming March, and I think we found the perfect spot. We already knew it was going to be there, we just hadn't found the perfect spot yet.

Oh, and the invitations came (if you like them, I got them on Zazzle, and you can customize your own variation)

On the way back as we rode I did, as I so often do, rode without hands on my handlebars. I steer fairly well, and can go quite a distance without my hands on the bars. I often do, sometimes to dance along to the music I'm listening to, or because I'm fishing something out of a pocket, or to pet my dog, or to perform a series of signals to indicate I'm going to be stopping and going left or right. As a little girl I broke my arm riding no handed so I'm well aware of the danger.

In fact, I was riding no handed, doing the 'V' for victory sign as a 7 yr old miscreant, when a bump in the pavement caused me to snap my left arm on the curb. Fortunately, my step-father can set a bone and the arm has never troubled me much, but I'm very grateful for that break, even if it was a miserable summer with a stinky cast.

The series of crashes and spin-outs taught me how to shift my core center and balance my weight in such a way that I could probably ride a unicycle (though I've no inclination to do so) and take turns barely moving my handlebars, the most hairpin curve doesn't faze me in terms of control. I can even keep pedaling under such conditions. I don't need to grip the mid-bar with my thighs, its a matter of moving your center of gravity to your butt, and using your hindquarters kind of like a rudder. Even with my hands on the bars I'm turning my back wheel just a smidgen before my front wheel. I learned to turn this way because, growing up, there was a spot we nick-named 'Dead Man's Curve' a near guaranteed wipe-out jut in front of the fire-station on the campus. Its since been fixed, but back in the day that turn would send you sprawling and tumbling, if you weren't clutching your breaks. 

I hated loosing speed, I hated riding my breaks down, and often when I was first learning to adjust them they would fail and force me to use my foot (in an emergency you can jam your foot to stop your back wheel by kicking your leg behind the seat and doing a door stop move on the tire*), So I adapted various methods until even Dead Man's curve couldn't kill my speed if I chose. Of course you should still slow down somewhat on turns, there's no need to arrive as a DOA.

Now, I've always been aware Ben is unable to ride no-handed, and I dunno, I guess the idea of committing to someone who can't whistle is one thing, but riding no handed is another. It took a bit of coaxing, and no small amount of courage on his part, but the Interurban trail is a flat and good place to learn the skill. 

After a few tries he was able to to keep going no handed, not long long stretches, but nothing to sneeze at considering. Its hard as well, to explain shifting your weight to the back of the saddle, and far easier to do on an upright bike than a mountain bike (though still easy for me), so it took a few tries, but hey, give the guy credit, he got there. It also highlighted, for me anyway, how long a person can ride without ever needing the things we consider essential, and to never underestimate it. 

With the weather being what its been lately (snow, rain, and then more rain), and after a pretty muddy trek, I think tomorrow is going to be spent cleaning my bike. Its been a few months and Pinkie Pie isn't at her best looking right now, she's more than a little muddy, and I'd be remiss if I didn't grease her chain. Its a shame to miss a rainless day of riding, but who knows, maybe I'll finish early and get a chance to ride out, I mean, I do have to check my work, right?

*Note: This is an EMERGENCY move only, you will wear down the rubber of your shoes super quick this way.

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