“To Do” List

08.30.2005 | 8:10 pm

Bike riding has been a huge part of my life for about ten years now. You’d think that by now, I’d have at least tried everything I want to try.

To my shame, this is not the case. It’s not even close. There are all kinds of things I still haven’t tried, all kinds of skills I have not acquired.

These are the ones I can remember right this second. Some I expect to try, a few I expect to master. Some I will neither try nor master.

  • Trackstand: This one comes first, because it was while I was failing to do a trackstand at a light this morning that the idea for this list came to me. You know, with as much time as I spend on a bike, by now I should be able to balance on it when it’s not moving. But I wobble, jerk back and forth, and within a few seconds have to put a foot down. Someday, I’m just going to spend an afternoon doing nothing but practicing my trackstand. I don’t know if it’ll do any good, but I’m going to do it anyway.
  • Nose wheelie: My friend Rick does the coolest stop on his mountain bike: he grabs his front brake, his rear wheel goes high into the air, and he comes to a stop, balanced in a nose wheelie. He’s like a cute little trained seal doing that. I wish I looked like a cute little trained seal. I’ve got more of a walrus body type, alas.
  • Race in a velodrome: I put this in the list because I’ve got the bike on order and I know for sure I’ll race in a velodrome next season. But it is something I’ve wanted to try now for more than five years. It’s nice to have something on the list I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to check off. Of course, racing well is a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish.
  • Solo a 24 hour event: I’ve done the 24 Hours of Moab as part of a 5-person team, and as part of a 2-person team. I’ve signed up to do it solo, but then bailed out at the last moment. One thing that bugs me about people racing 24 hour events "solo," though, is nobody ever really seems to do it solo. They’ve got all kinds of people taking care of them and their bikes between laps. If I were to race a 24 hour race solo, I’d want to do it truly solo. I ride myself, I feed myself, I take care of my bike myself. When I finished, I would thump my chest and thumb my nose at the sissy-boys with crews.
  • Finish Leadville in under 9 hours: I’ve gone on about this endlessly already; I’m not going start in about it today. Still, it belongs on the list.
  • Ride a unicycle: Let’s be clear: unicycles are ridiculous. But I know for sure my kids would be more impressed with some guy juggling and riding a unicycle than they are with anything I can currently do on the bike. Maybe if I could ride a unicycle I could also do a trackstand.
  • Ride a BMX course: I see kids cornering, jumping, and sprinting like nobody’s business on BMX courses and I can’t help but wish I had ridden BMX when I was a kid. I’d be twice the bike handler I am right now. Too late for that now, but I’d still like to get out on a BMX course and see what it’s like.
  • Do a wheelie drop: All of my friends can wheelie off ledges. I, on the other hand, go down nose-first. It’s not the right way.
  • Ride a wheelie: Sure, I can pop a wheelie. But I can’t ride it down the street. I don’t know whether my kids would think this or riding the unicycle would be cooler.
  • Ride down a flight of stairs: I’ve seen outdoor flights of stairs and thought to myself, "I think I could ride down that." But I never do. Chicken.
  • Develop a smooth pedaling cadence: This is my biggest shame. If I think about it, my cadence is pretty smooth; my upstroke is strong, my dead spot is small (I think). But when I’m just riding along, I’ll often find myself pedaling triangles (nobody pedals squares; don’t believe those who say they do).

So much time on a bike, so little accomplished.


Today’s Weight: 166.0


  1. Comment by James | 08.30.2005 | 8:28 pm

    I’m right there with you on trackstands…http://www.jls.cx/archives/000094.html. Bike handling tricks are not high on my list of strengths but I’m absolutely celeste with envy over the guys who do effortless trackstands at the drop of a hat. I’ve heard it’s easier with a fixie, so maybe you could start with yer track bike…they are TRACKstands, after all.You should try building up a bike sometime, too. I get tremendous satisfaction out of riding wheels that I build myself. Especially when they don’t fall apart. Which they don’t, despite my vivid crash fantasies.JLS

  2. Comment by Unknown | 08.30.2005 | 8:34 pm

    two things i’ve always wanted to do, but can’t. i really, really want to ride a wheelie down the street. once, after a huge epic ride that finished on the steep pavement passing by sundance, my friend ryan rode for about a mile downhill at 40mph doing a wheelie. i was nervous just watching him. god i wish i could do that. i would sell my soul to anybody who could teach me how to do that.second, i want to catch really big air, and do it with style. i am a groundhog. i can wheelie drop stuff, i can bunny hop, i can climb big ledges, but if the trail offers really big air, i get that little kid, napolean dynamite air that looks so ridiculous. you know, where you pull up a bit on the bars and pedals, realize you actually only got one wheel off the ground, then hope desperately that nobody saw you even attempt to get air. but invariably, a friend, usually rick maddox, will immediately sing out "hey, nice air man" with a snarky grin. ouch. i visualize stylish big air all the time. seriously, more than any other bike thing, i visualize myself doing big air. in 15 years of riding dirt, i’ve never pulled it off. i will now light myself on fire.

  3. Comment by Mike | 08.30.2005 | 8:39 pm

    Riding down stairs is easy for me, easier than riding down a hill of river rocks. My recommendation for doing a set of stairs is start with two or three stairs. When you start going down the first one, stand up and move your weight over your back tire. Hold on, and it’ll soon be over.Now riding upstairs is something that I want to accomplish, but never have, everytime I try I either just stop or bend a rim. I’m also no good at wheelies, so at least you pop a wheelie. In fact, I haven’t been able to do a wheelie since my first bicycle. And on that thing I could ride wheelies all day long.Hrmm. Time to get back on the bike.MikeBuddha Cyclist(5.9 250lbs)

  4. Comment by Unknown | 08.30.2005 | 8:54 pm

    oh, one other thing. i wish i could repair my own bike. i have made this committment to myself at least 5 times over the years, i’ve bought deluxe tools sets, i’ve purchased at least 3 bike repair stands, i’ve even bought manuals and a dvd.and yet, i’ve never used any of it. the best i can do is fix flats. i’m lucky i successfully get my wheels back on without permanently damaging the disc brakes. i’ve got a through axle on one of my dirt bikes, and i live in fear of flatting the front tire.i recently rode my cdale road bike about 70 miles up and down mountains and the shifting was screwed up so much that every time i stood and climbed out of the saddle, the gears would jump on the cluster. i twirled the barrels like a maniac, and only made it worse (duh). so did i get it fixed? no, i rode it all the next week with jumping shifting, before taking it to racer’s cycle service in provo, so he could spend 5 minutes adjusting the shifting.i spent an entire summer with my saddle pointed slightly up, because i couldn’t be bothered to get out an allen wrench.the reason i switched to disc brakes was because then i wouldn’t have to worry about keeping the cables clean.i am a moron. i don’t know how i even keep a job to afford these bikes.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 08.30.2005 | 10:55 pm

    I must confess. I’ve been reading your blog ever since you started it right after the RAWROD. The 24 hours of moab solo "To Do" is what has finally pushed me to speak up. You know, I still carry around the guilt for quitting on you and making you do that last lap in the Duo class when it should have been me. I cant go back in time and change that awful moment and make things right but I will offer to be your companion on a Solo effort of the 24 hours of Moab in 06′ Im committing right now. And none of that "support crew" crap either (hear that kenny, no support for RAWROD 06 for me and fatcyclist). Just you and me working on our own bikes and making our own food and filling our own water bottles and wiping up own vomit. What do you say? Let’s get that off your list.

  6. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 08.31.2005 | 12:13 am

    brad, I will of course need to verify with The Fat Cyclist’s Wife, but count me in. for now. we are the manliest men ever.

  7. Comment by Daniel | 08.31.2005 | 12:16 am

    Great list. You just didn’t go quite far enough. Let’s see what we can add…1. Ride a unicycle in a 24-hour event. Ha. Ha. Well, there were some nutters doing this ‘un http://www.totalsport.co.nz/events/12hour_mtb/index.php on unicycles with knobblies. I think some of them were faster than me, too.2. Get a ticket from a traffic cop for pulling a MTB wheelie on the road. Yes, it’s happened at least once; I know the culprit.

  8. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 08.31.2005 | 1:52 am

    I can fix almost half your list with one piece of friendly advice from one fatty to another. First, my resume: I was a spritely 160lb trackie before "the ambulance ride" – as it is fondly referred to by all who saw my velodrome acrobatics, but weren’t wearing my helmet when it hit the ground. Now, as a 275lb victim of my own excuses I offer up the following:I have shuffled your original order so my pattern of advice is more obvious-Nose wheelie: have you ever heard a collarbone shatterSolo a 24 hour event: just plain sillyRide a unicycle: do you have a tattoo under your tongue – just as usefulRide a BMX course: if you need bike handling skills or a flashback to the 80’sRide a wheelie: if you need bike handling skills or a flashback to the 80’sDo a wheelie drop: handy, especially if you don’t enjoy truing front wheelsRide down a flight of stairs: get used to truing front wheelsTrackstand: FIXIERace in a velodrome: FIXIEDevelop a smooth pedaling cadence: FIXIEFinish Leadville in under 9 hours: probably should be up there with the solo 24hr but… FIXIEAt the end of my first road season, many years ago, a wise old Englishman told me to put my road bike on a 63-67" fixed gear for 2 months. Not a single speed freewheel, a track style pedal-like-a-maniac-downhill fixed sprocket. * Trackstands are about half the effort on a fixed gear – you can control the entire balance of your bike with the big toe of your front foot. * Racing on a velodrome… obvious, but exposure to the fixed gear in private is handy. You don’t want an audience when you stop pedalling after a sprint, just someone to dial 911 and never speak about what they saw. * Smooth pedalling: You can climb in your seat about 2 gears higher on a fixed gear and you get to train going down hill as well. A 67" gear at 35mph gives about 170rpm, you either get smooth or you die. After 2 months you will definitely be more Armstrong that Ullrich.* Sub-9 at Leaderville: With your newly enhanced pedalling style you should find that a lot of the energy that was once going into squirming around is now going into the pedals, therefore with no change in fitness you should find that your socks, gloves and saddle stop wearing out and your power transmission improves along with your race times.cheersBIG Mike (skinny on the inside)

  9. Comment by Daniel | 08.31.2005 | 2:21 am

    Oh yes, and it’s not called a ‘nose wheelie’. It’s called a ’stoppie’.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 08.31.2005 | 3:52 am

  11. Comment by Unknown | 08.31.2005 | 3:57 am

    Ahem… ignore that empty posting. Did you know that "enter" equals "post, even if your comments are empty?"At any rate, I’m going to do the Round & Round 24 Hour Race as a solo in Spokane next year. It’s a great course to solo; not terrifically technical, fairly low-key, and a good-sized crowd. I did it more or less "truly" solo last year (I was sharing a campsite with two of my friends who were also soloing, and a 5-person team, so I had some ad-hoc support, but nothing official) If you feel like doing two solo 24 hour races next year, it’d be fun to have some ’softie company.

  12. Comment by Unknown | 08.31.2005 | 5:31 am

    Kiddo, I can ride a unicycle, so get that off your list pronto. Piece of cake, your kids will love it, and so will you. BUT… to stay upright on a unicycle, one pedals backwards and forwards and I’m last on the list as a cycling expert, but I think that might not be how trackstands are done. Oh, yes, and then there’s the part about waving the arms wildly about, twisting the body, etc. Again, possibly not trackstand behaviors.

  13. Comment by Unknown | 08.31.2005 | 2:57 pm

    i qualify this by stating i started on a mountain bike, and branched out to bmx, road biking, dirt jumping, and urban/trials. i have been reading your column since the TDF.here’s my 2 cents:• Trackstand: indespensible. find a very slight incline, point the front wheel uphill. it’s the best way to learn. i’d try it on the MTB first. i always feel less bad when eating it on my MTB vs. my roadie… even if it’s just falling over sideways. strike that.. i haven’t dropped my roadie yet.• Nose wheelie: i know you ride rim brakes, but consider disc brakes. you can still do them with linear-pull style brakes, but it’s way safer with discs. plus a disc brake will allow you to ride the nose wheelie further, rather than an short one with an abrupt stop at the end. good luck.• Ride a unicycle: this WILL help the trackstand to a certain degree. plus it helps with core strength if you take it off road. your abs and back will be singing the first few times you do longer rides on one. learning is way easier than most people think, as well. • Ride a BMX course: rent a 20-inch bmx bike to try this. don’t use your MTB, even though most tracks allow it. the aggressive sprinter-type single speed bmx bikes are a blast. your wheelie skills improve instantly, as you are forced to manual (wheelie without pedaling) through dips.• Do a wheelie drop: learn this. how have you ridden so much technical terrain and not died yet as a result?• Ride a wheelie: the easiest learning tool is the 26" hardtail dirtjumper MTB that has gotten popular lately. if you know anyone with one, try on that first. i suggest the giant STP2 or STP1, or the specialized P series. the geometry is perfect, and with practice, wheelies can be done further and steadier. then try on your MTB after you gain some confidence.• Ride down a flight of stairs: easier than walking down stairs. to start, lower your seat and just go. check out a local college at night. i have found that colleges have long, wide steps that are less steep (and often only 5 or 6 steps long). this allows for a slower/smoother ride down to boost confidence. keep away from the front brake initially.• Develop a smooth pedaling cadence: let me know what you come up with. my excuse is that bmx and dirt jumping has ruined my road/x-c pedaling cadence. in reality, i justhave horrible technique. i have to think "circlescirclescirclescirclescirclescirclescircles" while pedaling to get anything resembling good form.good luck!

  14. Comment by Unknown | 08.31.2005 | 3:10 pm

    for dan’s comment, on terminology used where one puts his/her bike up on the front wheel while maintaining forward momentum- here is something i have learned over the years across different sports and living in both NY and CA (dan, i’m not saying you’re wrong, i’m just saying i’ve heard things used differently depending on where i lived and what sport we were talking about):• "nose wheelie": suitable for MTB, sport motorcycles, skateboards. skaters also call it a "front manual" or "nose manual", or just "manual". it seems to be a west coast thing, too.• "endo": i have mostly heard this on the east coast by sport motorcycle riders and in freestyle bmx.• "stoppie": i have heard this on the west coast by sport motorcycle riders and MTBers.

  15. Comment by Jim | 08.31.2005 | 4:04 pm

    I haven’t done it yet, but every cyclist must think about doing a transcontinental ride, right? I didn’t do it when I was young and untethered but hopefully someday. I’d probably consider going east-west because I’d be unmotivated after crossing the Rockies and would probably turn around and head back.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 08.31.2005 | 4:47 pm

    I learned to ride a unicycle in 1974, when I was 14. It was an interesting experience. I learned to do a trackstand on a road bike in 1977. The two have little or nothing in common, but the trackstand is a useful thing. I do it at red lights all the time. Not only are you poised for a quick start when the light turns green, but you don’t wear out your cleats, and you are also providing acrobatic entertainment to the cars, so maybe they’ll be less prone to run you over after you’ve entertained them. For learning, I recommend using the road bike. The lighter the bike is, the easier it is to do. Find a slight uphill and point the front wheel up it. Roads usually slope up to the left, so turn the wheel that way. Of course, I only learned to do this on roads with a left camber, so I can’t do it on a track, where the slope is the opposite way.

  17. Comment by Zed | 08.31.2005 | 4:57 pm

    The downstairs one is pretty simple. Good luck on the rest.You just hang your bum behind your seat while descending, and make certain to use a set of rims you just don’t care about.I was taught this by a scrawny girl. That makes it so much more embarrassing.

  18. Comment by none | 08.31.2005 | 8:13 pm

    So, I found into your Space following the featured Space for the week on MSN. (As if nobody already told you that, but it’s honestly true)I have to tell you that I really liked your caustic sense of humor and the tone of your writings. I’m still wondering if your friend who is selling the super-duper bicycle got some kind of response on his e-mails. I like your attitude and your everlasting love on bikes (I’m really a lazy one…I love bikes, but I haven’t ridded on one for years).Well, take good care, and keep ridingBye!

  19. Comment by Michelle | 09.1.2005 | 3:11 am

    whoo hoo. almost 1 week into this. not eating stupid quantities of food : easy. making time to exercise: less easy. I wish I could do that crazy trackstand, but it’s hard. I’ve tried a unicycle. Really fun. Good luck with that.

  20. Comment by Michael | 09.1.2005 | 2:32 pm

    Mate stairs are easy. Think of it like this. If you are going moderately fast the wheels only touch the edges of the stairs and it’s just like riding down something flat.


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