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?