How long does it take a cautious person to learn how to ride no-handed?

Winter riverFourteen months ago, I started this blog. Back then, I had no bike handling savvy whatsoever. But then winter came and it taught me some valuable lessons. I learned how to ride in snow and more importantly how keep my body relaxed even in tense situations.

In the spring I bought my road bike and the  first thing I had to learn was how to wrangle my water bottle in and out of it’s cage without falling over in a heap. (Not to mention the struggle of actually drinking water while on the move.)

It took some time, but I did get very comfortable riding one-handed. Logically, the next step was teaching myself to ride without using either hand for balance. I practiced, and practiced and practiced this skill over the summer without ever mastering it.

One day I happened to watch a video online and it mentioned getting comfortable having either hand off the handlebars before progressing to no hands at all. Ah ha! I had been solely using my right hand to retrieve my water bottle, while my dominant left hand steadied the bike.

So I took time to get comfortable with taking my left hand off the bars for extended periods of time. By now it was late fall and I switched to using my mountain bike. For some reason, I found the mountain bike even harder to balance no-handed than my road bike.

On a rainy day, my handlebar covers started sliding off. For whatever reason I grabbed the squishy ends. It was perfect! The flexible ends of the handlebar covers gave me enough control over the bike to assure my cautious side that I was safe, but still forced me to balance the bike using my body. I became more confident taking my hands off the bars but I was still unable to jump over the hurdle of guiding my bike without any hands; I only rode no-handed when I could keep a perfectly straight line.

Until today that is.

This morning was bright, sunny and cold; one of those days when I decide that winter should never, ever end. As a bonus, there was a slight tailwind helping me out as I pedaled down the road.  I was singing and my hands wouldn’t stay still. At one point I realized that my hands had not been on the handlebars for a long time and that my weight was balanced perfectly over the bicycle without them.

It had clicked!

For the rest of the ride I giggled uncontrollably every time I took my hands off and guided my bike without them. I may or may not have squealed at the top of my lungs,

“I am actually doing it!!!”

After working so long on this skill, having it finally come together feels absolutely magical.

 

 

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24 thoughts on “How long does it take a cautious person to learn how to ride no-handed?

  1. Another tip, for the road bike, is to start with your upper body low and just sit up using your core. It’s a lot easier that way. Oh, and the mountain bike is harder. Congratulations chica.

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    • Sweet! Thanks for the tip, I will remember that for spring. And the mtb really is harder? I am so glad to hear that, because I don’t want to lose my magical power when the road bike comes back out 😉

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      • Nope, you’ll find it easier on the road bike. It’s all in the geometry. A mountain bike has you sitting more upright so you have to start with your upper body higher. On the road bike, you’re upper body is lower to the bars. Just remember, be careful and practice makes perfect. Just be safe about it.

        I’m really stoked for you Bri. You’re well on your way.

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      • Haha, I’ll bet you did! It is interesting how opinionated people can be about how other people ride their bikes. Personally, I wouldn’t listen to music or text while I am biking (of course I am also way less experienced on a bike as well…) but I do other things on a bike that could be called unsafe, like riding in storms. Thankfully, the bike police haven’t caught me yet 😀

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  2. Still practising this skill, here in Wales. I remember as a boy, I did it, but now? I often have a go, on my route home in the evenings, but only when I am sure, there is no one around to gaze on my attempts. But still, after only a few pedal strokes, and after all these years of riding my bike, I find my hands are firmly back on the bars. Like yourself, I always keep my dominant right hand on the handle bars until I let go. I must try using my left hand as the dominant one, perhaps the breakthrough will come then. Keep squealing at the top of your voice, you’ve mastered a brilliant skill, once again I am in awe. I will try to be squealing also, as soon I can master this art. Cheers.

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    • It seems like every boy can ride a bike without hands, it’s not fair, haha! I also wait until the coast is clear to practice, it feels safer that way 😉 I hope you have your own magical breakthrough soon!

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