real life cycling

Look mum no hands!

Don’t mistake me for being superficial: I know the difference between real stuff and trivial flim-flam.

Real stuff is the 90 mile bike ride, the 3,000 metres of ascent, and the bent double in the wind and rain fixing a puncture 50 miles from home. Flim-flam, on the other hand, is the new merino wool jersey that just arrived in its gift-wrapped packaging, the stop for coffee and cake half way through a 25 mile ride, and the apple crumble flavoured energy gels.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the trivial and superficial side of things, nor that the gritty bits are inherently noble and worthy, I’m just pointing out that there’s a difference and I know what it is.

I’m doing this, because this is the pre-amble to a piece about the genius that is putting on, or taking off, a waterproof jacket none-handed without breaking your pedal stroke.

Essentially, I’m worried that you might think I’m being trivial. Which I am. But you know that I know…


Ok, that's not how it's done! (Image: Sean Hogan - Flickr CC)
Ok, that’s not how it’s done!
(Image: Sean Hogan – Flickr CC)

You see, once you have mastered this act of dressing/undressing on the bike you automatically move up a notch on the cycling style-ometer. Whether that is in the eyes of your friends and companions, or just within your own internal cycling style-ometer (what…just me?) is unimportant.

If you can do it you can do it, and that is it’s own reward.

Whether or not your riding companions mention the manoeuvre you have just executed I can guarantee they will have noticed. If they are not yet masters of this domain they will be wide-eyed with mild awe and busy plucking up the courage to have a go themselves. If they are old hands, you might elicit a sage nod of appreciation at some point.

You are part of an exclusive club now.

Picture the scene. You are happily pedalling along when, out of the blue, rain begins to fall. Perhaps your friends are already wearing their waterproofs so to pull over and layer up would require either the group to stop and wait, or you’d have to stop, dress, and furiously catch up.

Not ideal, either way. It’s time for the no-hands move.

To my mind, an average non-professional cyclist, there are three key aspects to successfully and elegantly putting on your waterproof mid-ride.

OK, now grab your jacket... (Image: John @ Flickr via Wikimedia)
OK, now grab your jacket…
(Image: John @ Flickr via Wikimedia)

Incidentally, successfully and elegantly are two very different things.

A successful end result is one where you emerge from the manoeuvre 200 yards down the road wearing a waterproof. An elegant one will result in your riding companions, or even random passers-by, having to physically restrain themselves from offering you an enthusiastic round of applause such was the grace of your execution.

Anyway…three aspects:

Firstly, you need to pick your moment. You are looking for a flat, straight road with very little traffic and a smooth surface of tarmac. If you attempt this on a bumpy and ragged single track lane with a rolling profile, you deserve everything that comes your way.

Secondly, your waterproof jacket should be stowed away in your jersey pocket with zip undone. To reach gracefully around to your pocket, remove the waterproof with a wink and a winning smile, and then fumble with the zip and grasp wildly for the handlebars falls a long way short of the elegant outcome you’re after.

It requires untold levels of skill and nerve to successfully unzip your waterproof and end up casually wearing it without having a less than friendly get-together with the tarmac in between.

Give yourself a fighting chance, eh?

Finally, sit up straight, keep your hips balanced over the saddle, and relax. If you tense up, you’ll crash. If you lean forward, you’ll crash. If your hips wobble about, you’ll crash.

Look, the fact is that even if you do all these things, you might crash.

Don’t blame me. I’m not saying you should attempt this manoeuvre, I’m just saying that if you do and you don’t crash, you’ll go up in everyone’s estimation.

It’s your call.

12 comments on “Look mum no hands!

  1. I can take off a gilet and store it in my rear pocket while one the move, putting one on is a skill I am yet to fully master.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can remove my helmet to de-bee it and replace it, snap engaged, one-handed at 23 mph, without getting dropped… the no-handed de-robing, not so much. It’s not that I can’t comfortably ride my bike no-handed, I can. That’s just a little too much considering my friends will soft pedal for those of us who wish to stop to throw on a rain jacket… The third option, if you will.


  3. A warning: I vividly recall one riding companion trying to be stylish and attempting to pull a half zip waterproof off over his head while on the move, only to get it caught on his helmet.

    After frantic struggles in which he somehow managed to remain upright and pointing more or less in the right direction his bright red,wild-eyed face finally emerged from its high-viz blindfold, at which point he berated me for not helping him.

    I’m not sure what I could have done and anyway I was so incapacitated with laughter I would have been no use to man or beast.

    Don’t try this at home, kids.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha ha, I can almost picture that, sounds hilarious! For my money if a man attempts to remove a half-zip jacket over his helmet then he is well and truly on his own. You’ve made your bed…etc


  4. I once changed my chain whilst still riding. Didn’t even use quick links. OK, bit of an exaggeration. I think my balance on the bike depreciates by the year. As a kid I could ride no handed down slides, steps and the like. Sadly no more. Bah.


    • None-handed is a young mans game eh? I’m not convinced the risks of the none handed kit change are worth the rewards really, but I’m seduced by it nonetheless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I enjoy no handed on a fixed gear. It feels extra special somehow. No handed over speed bumps. No handed and using your hips to swerve around potholes. Still life in the old dog yet!


  5. De-robing OK, vice versa no chance, though I have been known to change gloves on the move.


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