Introduction: How to Skitch on a Bicycle (Grab Onto a Moving Car)
'Warning: Nothing in this instructable is suggesting that you actually go out and try this. Skitching can be extremely dangerous and by no circumstance should anybody ever do it period. Also cigarette's are bad, don't drink if your pregnant and keep knives away from kids...And limit exposure to rock n' roll music as well. They say its of the devil. Just thought you should know.
-Free wheel bike(fixed gear will do but not as safe at high speeds)
-Straight Handlebars(General Upright position. drop bars/bullhorns with cross brakes are fine as well)
-Front brake on right side(if your Right Handed)
-Good pair of gloves(optional but recommended)
-Good pair of gahones(gender optional)
Skitching(i.e. "skate-hitching") is the act of hitching a ride on the rear bumper of a car. It is also sometimes commonly referred to as Bumper Hitching. This can also be done with a skateboard or roller skates in urban areas where there is no ice or snow. In addition, skitching can be performed on a bicycle.
Skitching is a great way to maximize efficiency. Their three major reasons to "Catch a Skitch".
1) To go faster
2) To be lazy
3) To Showoff
I tend to use the first two rationales more often than the third one because of the dangerous nature of skitching. If you are trying to impress some hottie on a sweet fixie your not paying enough attention to the act of skitching itself, and lack of attention when your skitching could mean serious injury or even death. So for the purpose of this instructable I will be expanding upon the first two; Faster and lazier.
4 steps to Skitching Supremacy:
Step 1: Avoidance or Acknowledgment
Step 2: Reviewing Conditions
Step 3: Catching The Skitch
Step 4: Dismounting
Step 1: Step 1: Avoidance or Acknowledgement
Step 1: Avoidance or acknowledgement
Host Parasite relations....:
As with any relationship, mutual understanding is key. Knowing what your host is feeling and thinking is critical to a safe and efficient skitch. I tend to get mixed reactions from drivers when they realize that I am holding onto their vehicle. The three common emotions are Anger, Confusion, Amusement and indifference (complete unawareness).
If your driver is Angry:
Better not fully engage. An angry driver will more often than not slow down or completely come to a stop to chastise you about your foolishness. And some times they will even turn into you or accelerate rapidly in an attempt to throw you off. In any situation, angry drivers are worth avoiding. Move on.
If your driver is confused:
Test the water. Make it obvious to the driver what your doing. Give him a wink or a smile or even a quick thumbs up if you have the opportunity. Once the driver understands what your intentions are he may move onto the amusement phase and a clean skitch will ensue. He also may move to the angry stage, in this case abort immediately
If your Driver is amused:
An amused driver is almost always a great skitch. They are willing to play ball and derive entertainment out of the ordeal.
If your Driver is Unaware:
The second best scenario would be TOTAL UNAWARENESS. Be warned however, an unaware driver can be a dangerous one. Lane Switching, sudden stops and generally erratic behavior is common with oblivious drivers.
Profiling cars and their operators is a good technique to develop as well, but would require a whole other instructable to explain efficiently (and it may incense some of our readers, ie; blond chicks in Land Rovers are completely oblivious to their surroundings).
I will however explain two of the simplest and most common profiles.
An "On the Job" driver profile is someone who is working. These drivers are more likely to be cautious and extremely aware of their surroundings.These tend not to be good skitches. Examples: Bus drivers and Delivery vehicles.
An "On the Way" driver profile is someone who is commuting. These drivers are a little less aware of their surroundings and often throw caution to the wind. These tend to be good Skitches. Examples: just about Everyone else.
Step 2: Step 2: Reviewing the Conditions
Step 2: Reviewing The Conditions
Reading the label.....:
Ok so you wanna put your life in danger. The first question you have to ask yourself is "Why?" Do you wanna Go Faster or are ya just feeling lazy?
If you are just feeling lazy than just grab a hold. It doesn't matter how fast your going or when your going to stop. All that matters is that someone else is doing the work for you, enjoy the ride :)
If you your looking to get from point A to point B faster, than this is a little more complex of an issue. Their are two main variables you have to factor in.
- Road Clearance.
- Total possible skitching distance.
So you think you have a great opportunity for a silky smooth skitch. The Drivers relaxed and unaware, or even better, excited to see you endangering yourself. So you psych yourself up and go for the grab, BUT ALAS! The roads ahead are jam packed with rush hour traffic and overzealous pedestrians. You could go for it but you would be moving slower than what you could manage yourself by spinning those pedals and threading the needle through this harsh jungle of rush hour traffic. You got things to do, people to see, packages to deliver no time for a casual stint of laziness.
This is a common scenario. A sexy skitch opportunity presents itself to you but traffic conditions would make for a slow and inefficient ride.This is why it is key to understand the street you are dealing with and the conditions ahead.
Bad Speed Skitch Scenarios:
-High Traffic Light Frequency
-Slow Moving cars
Good Speed Skitch Scenarios:
-Low Traffic Light Frequency
-Medium Paced cars (or fast if you can handle it/Catch it)
I have illustrated some common Good Skitch/Bad Skitch scenarios in the pictures below. You will probably notice that one of the good skitch scenarios has a trafic light in it. This is OK! Sometimes its worth waiting for a car at a traffic light. Its worth the investment of 30 seconds of standing still if you get an overall time improvement of 3 minutes!
Step 3: Step 3: Choosing Your Vehicle
Step 3: Choose your Vehicle
Choosing your poison....:
Ok, so all the conditions are right. The Road is clear and traffic is lean. Now comes the choice of what type of vehicle you will be grabbing and where on the vehicle. There are many options available, all of them have different strengths, weaknesses and difficulty levels. I will order them according to difficulty level.
Trucks are a great option for beginning skitchers. They have the easiest and most accessible grab points of any vehicle on the road. Another advantage to grabbing trucks is that, more often than not, they have slow acceleration rates. Which means you wont get your arm torn out of socket when they pull away. A few of the common grab points for trucks are:
-The Side of the Bed
-Lift Gates (the back of Semis')
-Fenders (a little more difficult if they are low riders)
The Car category includes Sedans, SUV's, Station Wagons and jeeps. These can be a little more challenging because they lack the easily accessible grab points like trucks have. The areas on a car that you can grab onto are often lower to the ground or require an understanding of the make and model your dealing with. As an example; you can sometimes get away with grabbing the rear passenger door handle on newer model cars because they have an auto-lock feature thats activated upon the cars movement forward. If you don't know if the car has that auto-lock feature you could risk the door swinging open and a have very surprised/angry motorist on your hands. Its because of this (and many other reasons) I favor newer model cars over old ones. New model cars have less jagged fenders/wheel wells and sturdier components so you don't risk accidentally breaking something off. Some common grab points on cars are:
-Fender (wheel Well)
-Roof Rack (Low profile station Wagons/SUV's)
-Door Handle (new model cars and old model jeeps only)
-Radio Antenna (my fav for Crown Vic taxi cabs)
-Spare Tire Racks(Jeeps and Suvs)
-Any solid Protruding surface (yes were still talking about skitching, sickos ;P )
Livery, Delivery and Emergency Vehicles:
Livery and Delivery vehicles include Buses, Taxis, FedEx trucks, UPS trucks, USPS trucks, Fire Trucks, ambulance (IN NON-EMERGENCY MODE) and other "On The Job" vehicles. The reason why i have classified these guys as Ninja is because they almost always are not willing to deal with your shenanigans. But when they are, oh man is it great. Some of the easiest and cleanest grab points exist on these behemoths of the road. And if you have finely tuned your skills of stealthiness, you can grab with no guff. BUT BE WARNED! If you are a bike messenger, chances are you are going to see these guys again in your travels. And if you left on a sour note, expect to be hassled in the future (especially with taxis). Some common grab points on Liver/Delivery/Emergency vehicles:
-Service door Handles
-Radio Antenna (again, really only on cabs)
-Rear Loading Dock Bumpers (Large metal Springs)
-Hang Rails (Fire Trucks and Ambulances)
Other Cyclists, Pedicabs, Tandems And those little service Golf Carts are fun things to grab onto just because of the priceless reaction you get when they realize 100+ some odd pounds was just added to their load, and if your good they will think they cased their wheel :D
Trains/Above Ground Trolleys:
NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE WOULD I RECOMMEND YOU DO THIS EVER!
However, pictures and video coming soon.
Step 4: Step 4: Catching Your Skitch
Step 4: Catching your Skitch
Ingesting your poison.....
Skitching from a complete stop:
So you got your road, your car, your grab point and your game face. Your holding on tight and watching the pedestrian ticker like its stop watch. 5...4...3...2...1 AND HE RIPS AWAY FROM THE STOP LIGHT!!!!! Unfortunately so does your arm from its socket. Your front wheel jack knives and your laying flat on your back facing an onslaught of oncoming angry motorists. You thought you had it but ya didn't.
You were not fully prepared for the sudden acceleration of your host. You didn't brace your shoulders, your midsection was as limp as a overcooked spaghetti noodle, your feet were precariously perched on your pedals and your attention was directed towards that hot chick scurrying through the cross walk, not the GIANT POTHOLE that was 4 feet from your front wheel.
Worry not my pre-pubescent pedi-parasite. Soon you will become a full fledged Skitch-ianado. All thats needed is your memorization of a Nursery rhyme-like final check list :
Keep an eye on the road ahead of you and adjust how far forward your looking to the speed your traveling. If you spot a bump or a pothole than see if you can steer to avoid it while maintaining your grip. If your unable to than dismount, steer away, steer back and attempt to remount. If your unable to do that, than just continue on your manual marry way.
Tighten up those shoulders, but place more emphasis on your drive side (the arm thats on your handlebars) than your skitch side (your skitching arm). Control over your bike is far more important than control over your skitch grip.
Try to keep your knees tight and your midsection solid. The point of this is to transfer as much of your hosts pulling force to your bike as possible. If the force hits your midsection and your midsection is limp it causes you to contort and loose balance. Find your center of balance and Lock it in place by tightening up all the relevant muscle groups.
If your feet are placed on your pedals unevenly, the force of your hosts pull can cause them to slip off. If you have been riding a bike for a while (if you havnt than stop reading this instructable NOW!) than surly you understand the chaos that ensues when you slip a pedal.
Skitching from a roll (Both you and your host are already in motion):
The same check list pretty much applies for when your skitching from a roll. You might have to adjust a few things like locking your knees (you may have to accelerate/decelerate to get a good grip position) but everything else is still necessary for a good clean safe skitch.
Adjust Your speed to a decelerating host:
Just because a car is slowing down a little bit, doesn't mean the skitch needs to be aborted. Use your judgment to figure out why your host has slowed its pace. Did he spot you or change his mind about wanting this liability? Is it because he's turning? Is he about to pull over? Is he just fiddling with something and there has been a brief lapse of attention? If it looks as though your host is going to continue on than don't be afraid to slow your speed along with him to keep a good grip position. If he is unreadable or it looks as though he is about to change coarse, than its time blow this amusement park ride.
Step 5: Step 5: Dismounting and Conclusion
Step 4: Dismounting and conclusion
getting home from the hospital with the bitter taste of activated charcoal in your mouth, but thankful your still alive and strangely wanting to do it again.
So your host is no longer viable or you have reached your destination and its time to terminate the relationship. Easy enough, right? Just let go and continue on your marry way! Sure if you have decided to depart at a low speed. However if you were in the midst of a high speed skitch and your departure was more of an all out abortion to try to salvage yourself and your bike this may not be so easy.
When is the last time you looked behind you for oncoming traffic? Probably a while ago if you paid any attention to the first step in our little Nursery rhyme list. If you were doing it right, almost all of your attention was focused on what was ahead of you, not what was behind you. Be sure when you depart that you don't depart into oncoming traffic. Take a quick look behind you (A VERY QUICK LOOK IF YOUR STILL MOVING FAST) to see what traffic is doing. Once your sure the coast is clear, proceed to decelerate and arrive at your destination.
I hope this Instructable has inspired you to pursue the perilous yet potently pleasurable art of Pedi-Parasitics. If you liked it, than please vote for me in the Park Tools Bike Month Contest and subscribe to my channel. Expect many more cycling related instrusctables to come your way.
Also, i will be adding custom Pictures and Videos of me skitching within the next week.