Full of inspiration and bravado having spent some time last night watching amateur enthusiasts such as myself perform their tricks on fixed gear bikes, I headed out to Parc Levesque this morning to emulate them. I did not anticipate it being so difficult, but then what was I thinking?
The skidding part is not so difficult. In my opinion, it is more a mind over matter thing. You simply have to convince yourself that you’re not going to fall off and let it happen. I was sensible in that I started my skidding practice on the slightly damp grass in the centre of the park. The first time was not so successful. Standing in the pedals I gave it some juice and built up some speed, well as much as the soft earth and lush grass would allow, and then, still standing so as to keep weight off the back wheel, I ‘thought’ i jammed my legs backwards to lock the wheel. Nothing really happened and I kept moving forward and my legs kept spinning.
I paused to reassess the situation. Why didn’t the wheel lock and the rear of the bike slide gracefully over the grass as I smoothly glided over the field like a graceful ballerina? Well, I don’t know, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I was not fully committed to the slide. I didn’t really ‘go for it‘, and that’s what you have to do. If you fall, you fall, but you can’t be afraid to fall.
My second attempt produced an incredible sense of euphoria as I did indeed successfully skid, locking the rear wheel and sliding, not so gracefully, across the grass for a short distance. WAHOO!! I was now ‘one of them‘. Well, they would no doubt beg to differ, but it felt good. I mucked about for another 15 minutes or so before heading back home, elated at having started my new career as a performance cyclist. I am not kidding myself though. I have a long way to go, but I will say that teaching yourself additional bike handling skills is never a bad thing, and anything I learn on the fixie will translate into a more skillful rider on the road bike as well, so I’ll keep plugging away at it.
If anyone has any suggestions for practicing techniques for the skid, or indeed for the simple act of balancing, drop me a line.