The real “hands-free”

October 4, 2019 § 13 Comments

Who are you kidding? You got the kit, the bike, the shoes, and the magic helmet of eternal safety and life that guarantees you will live forever or at least not get shamed by Dear Leader and others.

You do the rides, drink the coffee, drink the Kool-Aid, talk the watts.

You Stravver, Twitter, TrainerRoad, Zwift, Bikesnob, and most of all you Bike Radar and Washington DC Rainmaker.

But you still can’t ride with your hands off the bars.


I know what you’re thinking:

  1. I wish I could ride hands-free.
  2. I wish I could raise my hands in #fakevictory at the #fakerace.
  3. I wish I could take off my vest and stow it without stopping.
  4. I wish I could stretch my arms, back, neck, and shoulders while riding.
  5. I wish I could open complex Barbie food packages designed for MIT grads by MIT grads without having to get off my bike.
  6. I wishwishwishwish I could take awesome videos like Ramon and Baby Seal, and awesome photos like Liutaurus while riding.
  7. I’m terrified of falling on my face.

When I was a little kid riding hands-free, dad used to laugh and say, “Look ma, no hands!” Then he’d take his hands off his bars. Then, “Look ma, no feet!” and he’d take his feet off the pedals. Then he’d make a big smashing sound and say, “Wook ma, no teef!” We thought that was the funniest thing ever, until one time I was riding around with no hands, hit a chughole, and launched onto my forehead.

This is the conundrum. Do you want to have the basic minimum skills to be a good rider? Or don’t you? If you do, you have to learn to ride without your hands. In my adult life I’ve had plenty of bicycle falling off incidents, but never as a result of having my hands off the bars, and it makes sense. The wheels are so big and the gyroscopic effect so great if you’re going at any kind of speed at all that it takes a truly freak incident to knock you down, especially if you regularly ride hands-free.

So here’s how you do it:

  1. Put on tennis shoes.
  2. Go to a parking lot or other flat, wide open place.
  3. Ride in a straight line with your hands on the tops, at least 10 mph.
  4. Lift your hands so that only your fingertips are touching the tops.
  5. Lift your fingers a couple of inches off the tops.
  6. Freak out and grab your bars in a panic.
  7. Repeat, each time raising your fingers higher.
  8. Do this until you can ride a full 60 seconds hands-free.
  9. Start every ride hands-free for a couple of minutes until you can comfortably pedal with your hands by your sides.
  10. Extend your hands-free riding distance, like that time G$ rode from Hermosa to Santa Monica hands-free through rush hour traffic.
  11. Extend your hands-free range like that time Wily, in the middle of a dense Donut pack, stripped his vest and stowed it, going uphill through Portuguese bend, half-sprinting, with an idiot on each side about 2mm away.
  12. Forget about that time that Konsmo took his hands off the bars and fell and broke his wrist.

There. You now look as good as the bike.


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