Learning the Hard Way: Look Mom! No hands and no feet!

by Mr. Sheehy

One thing I did when I was little that I am convinced no one else did is continually attempt to ride my bicycle with no hands and no feet. My friends and I were always doing tricks on our bikes. When I’d be riding down the street with no hands I’d always think I had to do more, to be trickier than all the other guys who were riding with no hands. It likely didn’t help that I’d rented this movie called Rad  about five times and I wanted to be the coolest trickster there was on a BMX bike.

There I would be, then, riding down the street with no hands and suddenly the idea would come to me–what if I were to go no hands and no feet?–and with the idea consummated, I’d lift my feet off the pedals. For one, maybe two glorious seconds I was the trickster I imagined myself to be. Then at the end of that second second the bike’s seat would jut to one side, throwing off my balance, tossing me to the pavement in a heap of inglorious shame. Discouragement comes slowly to young boys like me, however, and inevitably a month or two later I’d attempt the trick again, usually with a few people around to see me topple.

Somewhere near my mid-teens I attempted the trick while riding my mountain bike at a significant clip. It wasn’t the most rational moment, I suppose (Had it ever been?), but there I was, cruising with no hands, musing why I couldn’t augment it and ride with no feet. I gently removed my sneakers from the pedals, my eyes lifted to relish in my triumph.

The crash was so blunt that the quick release lever on my front wheel unfastened and my tire rolled another house down the street, twisting to a stop like the coins I’d spin on the tables at  Louis Pizza.

While I can’t recall exactly when my enlightenment arrived, I am convinced that while I sat in the bathtub cleaning out the long scrapes on my legs that I must have glimpsed something about physics–that with only my bottom connected to the bicycle, there was little leverage for balance. With that insight a lasting embarrassment coalesced, and I thus told the world I had caught my shoelace while pedaling and when I tugged on it, I had launched myself onto the street.

It’s not true, World. I had no problem of the kind. I simply thought I was so amazing I could ride a bike with my buttocks.

I couldn’t.

Thanks for reading.