Friday, August 21, 2015

Look Ma, No Hands!

I raced the Bellevue Twilight and Papillion Twilight Crits this past weekend. I raced both nights well, but felt that Saturday was the better of the two. My results won't speak to my efforts, though, as my actions were largely spent on shutting down attacks and countering when I could.

The one thing I'd like to record for posterity's sake was how I managed to keep the rubber side down after a jarring hit from an unmarked 2" concrete lip in the road that caused both hands to drop from the handlebars. For a few harrowing moments at 30+ mph, I was riding no-hands while hovering over the top tube of my bicycle. I was aware that several trailing riders were depending on me to keep it upright; many of them personally thanked me afterwards for not crashing and potentially taking them down with me.

I'd like to say that my handling skills played a big role in keeping the bike upright. But honestly, skills had a minor role. And to call it skill might be a stretch. Experience is a better word choice. The experience I'm referring to comes only from lots of bike riding on and off road and in both good and crappy conditions. Especially in crappy conditions. I'm thinking of snow packed roads, and muddy cyclocross courses. There is a certain uneasiness that is experienced in those times that causes one's stomach to knot up. The natural tendency in those cases is to white-knuckle the handlebars, or to suddenly seize into action some counter measure to try to gain control of a mostly uncontrollable situation. Both of those actions can be disastrous. To panic is the worst choice. Instead, I recall following the advice of more experienced riders and allow the bike to mostly follow its own line. Remaining calm with very gentle guidance and a quick prayer are one's best options. The rest is up to chance.

Chance is actually the biggest reason why I didn't crash on Saturday. It was incredibly fortunate that my front wheel bounced mostly straight after my hands fell from the handlebar. It was also so that my torso fell straight down -- that my weight didn't shift much -- so as to not cause the bike to wobble heavily and change course. Had either of those gone the other way, well, it would have gotten ugly.

I find it remarkable that I wasn't spooked by this during the race. It's funny. I've had plenty of lesser close calls before that have shaken my confidence enough to effect my performance. But not this time. It's hard to put my thoughts into words, but I think it was because in this case, I could instantly sense that the bike had chosen a good line. At the moment when I had little control of my destiny, I felt good about my chances of making it through ok.

Perhaps I should mention all of my mamma's prayers at this point. Yes. That may have had a lot to do with it.

Anyway, that's all I've got to say about that.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

The raised concrete lip with a water bottle to show perspective


  1. I think that was the water bottle that was ejected from my bottle cage when I hit that crack, how I didn't crack a rim I'll never know.

  2. I hit that one during preride and made a mental note: DON'T EVER GO OVER THERE EVER AGAIN EVER. It got harder to remember as things got fuzzier in my brain.

  3. I missed that one preride. A spot of orange spray paint would have been helpful. I may go back with a sledge hammer.