To-Do List

08.30.2005 | 8:44 am

This Special Weekend Best-Of-Fatty Post rescued from my MSN Spaces Archive. Originally posted August 30, 2005.

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.


  1. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 02.10.2008 | 8:16 am

    So – since this was from 2005… how are you doing on your list?

  2. Comment by Tyson | 02.10.2008 | 9:14 am

    ^^Exactly my thought. I remember reading it when i was new and thinking that I should also spend a whole day learning to track stand too.

    Alas, its still on my list…

  3. Comment by Matt | 02.10.2008 | 9:40 am

    So, did you ever learn to unicycle?

    May I suggest learning to unicycle as a great one to enhance several of your other goals? I learned a few years ago and am the proud owner of a Kris Holm 29er- lots of fun on logging roads and even some single track! Get yourself a 24″ Torker LX for about $100 and commit to 30 minutes each day for a month. You’ll be riding by then. I found that unicycling has enhanced my smooth pedaling (you have to pedal smoothly and you have to do it while balancing- there’s a lot of backwards pressure you put on the cranks at first to balance and it teaches you a whole different feel for them). I also learned to uni before learning to trackstand- and I can also attest that learning to uni has done nothing for my ability to ride a wheelie.

  4. Comment by Jeff Moser | 02.10.2008 | 9:50 am

    I used to race BMX when I was a kid, and then recently gave it another try when my boy started racing. I rode the 24 inch cruiser class. This worked out well, since I was lumped together with guys my own age (37), instead of novices or experts. It was a blast, and quite a learning experience. I thought my fitness on the mountain bike would make it easy for me to win, but on such a short track, your endurance doesn’t account for much. There are guys that I would drop easily on the mountain bike that were just deadly on the sprint. I learned early on that you have to pedal the whole time. Any time you let off, you’ll get passed. Getting the hole shot or near the front in the first turn is a must too. Highly recommended if you haven’t tried it yet!

  5. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.10.2008 | 10:00 am

    There’s that sub-9 Leadville again……….

  6. Comment by UtRacerDad. | 02.10.2008 | 12:33 pm

    Done the stairs thing, it’s not nearly as scary as it looks. When the scouts saw me do it, they decided that they couldn’t let some old fat guy on a bike do something that would show them up, now that was fun to watch :).

  7. Comment by Madisonian | 02.10.2008 | 12:36 pm

    Out of the goals you listed there, the two biggest ones that I can relate to are the trackstanding and the pedaling cadence. With how much traffic I have to negotiate on a bike while on campus, I’ve told myself I am going to find an empty parking lot one day and just practice for an afternoon.

    The cadence thing I have been working on over the winter in the spinning classes I take, I found that doing isolations (while hard on the knees at times) is a great way to really concentrate on your pedal stroke in an isolated environment. Good luck with your list!

  8. Comment by Gordon in Melbourne | 02.10.2008 | 2:15 pm

    After reading this I will have to go and get my unicycle out of the garage.

    I sort of learned how to ride it and still only fluke a start without hanging on to something before I take off.

    I can juggle reasonably well and one day tried to combine the 2…..
    i’ve never tried it again.

    And guess what, I can’t do a good wheelie or tack stand very well so I suppose the unicycle thing is a bit specific.

    If you do learn to unicycle you can add to your list “Be a nerd” and then immediately cross it off. That part gave me great pleasure

  9. Comment by emily | 02.10.2008 | 3:26 pm

    The flight of stairs thing seems somewhat shocking. If I am on fat tires I ride down stairs all the time just out of laziness– who wants to get off the bike just to avoid that tiny possibility of a tooth-sacrificing public endo?

  10. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.10.2008 | 4:30 pm

    My boys (9 & 13y.o.) came and watched me at the velodrome a few weeks ago and started asking about getting real bikes (their BMXs & MTBs are commuter use only). 8 days ago they each got a road bike (I managed to build 2 complete road bikes from “spares” in my shed while only forking over $300 for a second hand junior frame and a couple of chains and cassettes). Yesterday at the weekly club race my 9 year old received the most improved award, not for his race result because it was only his first race. He got it for track standing for 4 minutes at the prerace riders briefing.

    If track standing is still on your list I think you should take your next holiday to Australia so my 9 year old can teach you how.

  11. Comment by cyclostu | 02.10.2008 | 5:33 pm

    I think that I’m going to have to agree with you Big Mike. Of all the things on the list, the track racing does have the most appeal. Kind of exotic sounding to those of us who just ride road and/or ATB. Not to mention you could knock out the track stand too. I think if you could hit a good sprint on a short race you could even argue that it was close enough to a BMX race with the banked turns and all. So that’s 3 things off the list right?

  12. Comment by | 02.10.2008 | 6:01 pm

    I don’t know about the modern “BMX courses”, but dirt track on BMX is sweet as heck! As far as wheelies and stairs, done both (again) on BMX years ago, and it’s arguably one reason I’m anxious to get a MTB. The rest I personally don’t care one way or the other, though Velodrome would be cool, but I could see where you would be up for it. Just my two cents.

  13. Comment by axel | 02.10.2008 | 7:01 pm

    I do the unicycle thing – I ride forward and I can walk the dog while riding. It doesn’t help with the trackstand, it just makes your list longer – do a trackstand and learn to stand still on a unicycle.

    Stairs – just do them, they are easy. Start with 3 or 4 steps, then 5 or 6, then 10, then you can do 20 or 100 or however many there are in the empire state building.

    3, 4, 8, 9 are on my list, too.
    Lance let me down and did not build a velodrome in town for his hour record attempt.
    But we do have a nice 24 hour race near by, there is really no excuse. Well, maybe there is, riding 24 hours is painful plus it is the same loop over and over again.
    Working on the wheelie drop, I just do not like to crash so progress is slow.
    I have worked hard on riding a wheelie – these full suspension bikes make it hard (I think). A new bike may just fix that problem, right?

  14. Comment by Dutch Girlie On a Bike | 02.11.2008 | 12:18 am

    I can’t ride no-handed. Scared to death to try it. I am doomed to always come in second place in a bike race cuz I wouldn’t be able to triumphantly ride over the finish line with my fists up in the air in after a win. Uhh yeah like I’d ever enter a bike race. Uhh yeah like I’d ever even take 2nd!!! 2nd to last maybe.

  15. Comment by buckythedonkey | 02.11.2008 | 12:49 am

    Unicycle: go off-road and get a Muni ( Some nutters have ridden the South Downs Way on them (

    Stairs: easier than much of the trail riding any of us have been doing. I mean, they’re uniform and it’s not as if you’re going to encounter a wet root halfway. Hey, you could practice at home using the stairlift to take you back up. That’d be just like being in Whistler! :-)

    Wheelie drop: the manoeuver to which you refer is called a Manual. It’s a pretty easy move to pull off but, because failure is not an option (zero-lift Manual + big drop-off = almost certain injury), you need to practice, practice, practice. Luckily, you can practice manuals on any flat-ish surface, so you can hone your skills all the way to work (although what Becky would make of that is anyone’s guess).

    Fatty, this month’s issue of a UK mag called “What Mountain Bike” has instructions (with pictures) on how master the Manual. If you want it, email me and I’ll post it to you.

  16. Comment by Pammap | 02.11.2008 | 5:14 am

    Around the time you first wrote this entry, we did the Bike Across Kansas which is just under 500 miles in 8 days. A guy did the whole thing on a unicycle as a fund raiser; people were sponsoring him with money per miles. It was impressive.

    While Kansas is not hilly, there are “inclines” that go on for miles and the wind is relentless. There is no aero tuck on a unicycle so this guy bore the brunt of the wind full-chest for almost 500 miles. There were a couple of days you had to pedal to get down the hill because of the wind. Like I said, it was impressive.

  17. Comment by Al Maviva | 02.11.2008 | 5:38 am

    I ride stairs all the time. Sometimes even intentionally. Down is easy. Just keep your weight back. I can’t stress that enough. Firm grip, loose arms.

    You want a challenge? Ride up some stairs without pinch flatting. That’s a bit trickier.

    Don’t worry about cadence too much. A lot of the best riders (i.e. pros) are wicked pedal mashers. They’ve studied this recently and while PowerCranks and similar devices may be the route to a smoother pedal stroke, they aren’t the route to a UCI ProTour job.

  18. Comment by fletcher_the_dog | 02.11.2008 | 8:09 am

    I am shocked about the stair thing, has this changed? I have seen pictures of you doing far harder things. If you have suspension or probably even with the 29 inch wheels it is just like riding down a steep hill. Just don’t freak out in the middle and slam on your brakes.


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