Fourteen 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.