This month I'll teach you a simple skill that is very handy for car-free living. I know everyone out there loves their bicycle, and generally it is inseparable from the self. But now and then you or a friend has somehow left a bike locked up somewhere else and needs to get it. No need to trek out there on foot to retrieve it! Just borrow another bike, go ride out to the lost bike and bring back both at once using the technique of GHOSTRIDING.
It takes a bit of practice but the skills needed will make you overall a more skilled and confident bike rider. Once you get used to it, Ghostriding several miles across town is not much trouble. With the riding skills you learn, soon you'll be talking on your cell and drinking your morning coffee on your ride to work too, just like your friends in Berlin, Amsterdam or Tokyo.
This article is brought to you by Momentum magazine and MonkeyLectric.
Step 1: One Hand Riding
practice riding your bike with just one hand. this is the most important skill needed for ghostriding. make sure you can brake while riding this way. practice until you can comfortably ride a mile in city traffic with just one hand. if this is a challenge for you, start on a cruiser bike or city bike where you have an upright posture.
As you can see from the photos, there are lots of good reasons to learn to ride one handed besides ghostriding!
Step 2: Which bike to sit on?
anytime you are going to ghostride, first decide which of the two bikes to sit on. normally you'd choose your own since you are most familiar with it, but if the bike you need to ghostride is much smaller than yours, sit on that one instead. reaching way down to hold a smaller bike is difficult. reaching up to a taller bike is easier.
Step 3: Line up the bikes
line up the two bikes next to each other. get ready to start riding your bike with one hand like you practiced. the second bike's handlebars should be to the right (or left) and a little behind of the first bike.
Step 4: Holding the 2nd bike
with your free hand, hold the second bike right on the stem or at the exact center of the handlebar. this is the only place where it will be possible to hold or steer it.
Step 5: Start riding
start riding your bike with one hand, and holding the second bike to the side of you at arm's length.
KEEP YOUR WEIGHT OFF THE SECOND BIKE. try riding forward slowly.
if you put any weight on the second bike it will start leaning over and steering against you.
pretend you are riding one handed like you practiced, and holding a heavy bag off to the side with your other hand. lift up on that bag, don't push down.
the second bike will be perfectly upright if you are doing this well. if it leans to one side or the other or feels like it is steering against you: briefly lift the front wheel of the second bike off the ground - this will get it back on track and keep you honest about having your weight only on the first bike.
Step 6: Stopping, Turning and more
once you can go straight, practice stopping and getting on and off. this is the only time you will put weight onto the second bike - when you are stopped and getting on or off. as soon as you are moving you're riding like you did with one hand.
next practice turning. anytime the second bike seems to be getting off track, just lift up its front wheel for a moment and put it where it should be (a comfortable distance to your side)
when riding in the city, you'll also use the same lift-up-the-front-wheel trick when you are riding over potholes that might throw the second bike off track.
Now go have some fun!!