TCI Friday

It was the ’70s, and I was in awe. Evel Knievel was jumping a Harley over buses, and Scott Wesson was riding wheelies all the way down our suburban street. These were feats of derring do I could barely fathom, even as they played out right before my eyes. They made me want to ride bikes. In fact, that’s pretty much all I wanted to do.

By the age of 10 I was jumping my BMX bike over a row of friends, lying sideways in front of a plywood ramp. You could do things like that then. Without a helmet. Without a care in the world.

There was a weird spell too, when I was in high school. I found myself tired, confused, overwhelmed and depressed, and for some reason the salve I sought was riding my bike as slowly as I could, practicing track stands and slow motion hops and transitions, in our driveway. I could spend hours just creeping around out there, without going anywhere, just playing with the gravity and the balance of it all.

These were the foundations of my bike skills, such as they were/are.

Later on, after I got into mountain biking, I developed an interest in trials riding, Hans “No Way” Rey, Martyn Ashton, Martin Hawyes, the guys Danny MacAskill idolized. I never got very far with any of the skills, if I’m honest, but I could do a few things, and I had a lot of fun trying.

Now that I’m inching up on 50, my main interest is in preserving the skills I have, although I believe strongly in continuing to push. I’d like to get more comfortable with both wheels off the ground. I’d like to improve my slow rolling agility on the mountain bike. And adding a manual to my game would be cool, too.

This week’s TCI Friday asks, if you could add one skill to your repertoire of bike skills, be it launching off a waist-high drop, bleeding disc brakes or peeing as you roll—or something else—what would it be?

Join the conversation
  1. TominAlbany says

    I answered that question for myself a couple of months ago. I started watching videos on how to learn to manual. And, I suck at it, of course. But, twice, I’ve gotten my wheel up so high, I grabbed the break to slam it down. I still don’t really know what I did to get there except to keep trying. Which is what I’m still doing.

    I also set up a 2×8 across a few cinder blocks to practice dropoffs. I stacked them two high and walked away. I didn’t have enough desire to try it. Note: I broke a helmet once, in Moab, trying to ride a three-footer by slow-rolling it with my arse hanging way off the back.Tacoed the wheel too, though that was the less scary of the two broken things. Maybe I’ll set the blocks back up this weekend and consider it again. And try the manual again…

  2. Jeff vdD says

    Bunny hopping CX barriers.

  3. Dan Murphy says

    Easy one: Hold a wheelie for like, forever. Ok, almost forever.
    Yes, a wheelie has no practical application other than being cool, but heck, I’ve never been cool and this would be a nice gateway to the world of cool.

    Next: Unicycle. Yes, yet another skill wjth absolutely no application to real-world riding.

    I’ll get to peeing as I roll as soon as I master those two.

    1. TominAlbany says

      I’m with you on the wheelie and the uni! Agree that I’d like to have both skills. I also wonder if mastering a uni gets you all kinds of balance skills that apply to the wheelie/manual/etc.

  4. southcarolinamtb says

    Manual. Manuals appear cooler than wheelies, more effortless; which is why I still struggle with them, too. What effort do you do to really achieve that balance? I’ve watched a youtube or two. i’m 100% better, which means i can now go 2-3m and still 100% away from achieving that awe.
    Peeing while rolling? That’s an easy one. The hard part is to determine what level of cleanliness you are willing to maintain! Good luck.

  5. Hautacam says

    I am a week late to this party but my skill would be to huck MTBs like a boss. Like gap-jumping, North Shore, Rampage-level hucking. Ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime but a boy can dream…

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