In the blog “How much do you weight?” published on the first of this month of June, my friend rider Sezi was reporting the experience of a minute person in riding a bike “heavy and big”; she closed the post saying “I search for the balance between body and the bike, as well as the balance between mind and body. I feel the force of gravity and my mind does everything else”
I should have titled the conversation “How do you balance weight?” since the feeling of heavy vehicle between legs depends on the sense of balance one acquired over time. I will go further, BALANCE, (the ability to keep an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady) is the source of all virtues that make great riders.
Take a look at the acts of racers, recovering balance that most of us would have given for lost. Or consider the Valentino Rossi “Doctor Dangle leg waving” used for the first time in 2005 to overtake Sete Gibernau on the final corner of the last lap in Jerez. Even Mr. Rossi can’t explain why he did it and why it became so popular: he only said “it simply feels right”.
Maybe the answer is IN BALANCE as Bennet web site explains: “…cornering is a balancing act. When riding around a corner at speed we are keeping the cornering and gravitational forces in equilibrium… The leg wave is an evolution of hanging technique, moving that centre of mass further again, towards the inside of the corner and forward, keeping the bike even more upright and placing more weight on the front tire thus increasing grip yet again until the lean angle is so great the rider is forced to lift his foot onto the peg”
Maybe. For us common riders, not so keen of exceeding a 40 degree cornering angle, balance remain extremely important and a valid fitness program must be followed to increase and keep over time balance.
While dialoguing with Sezi I received a post distributed under the titled of “Balancing act”. On it Mr. Subjective narrates the first experience in balancing a two wheels vehicle: an experience that I hope will generate the same emotion I got while reading it. Keep Balanced.
” My first bicycle was a 20” Huffy. Deep candy red with white pinstripes on its triangle-shaped fenders. I remember it so perfectly because this was the bike I first learned how to balance without training wheels. I can take you to the exact spot where this miracle occurred. My mother held the bike up by the back of its saddle and then released me. The thrill of that moment was like nothing else. It felt like I’d just learned the greatest magic trick ever.
Many kids learn to self-balance today using a very small pedal-less ‘balance bike’, a type of miniaturized bicycle that did not exist when I was a child. Whenever I see a child using one of these it looks so natural and easy. It’s automatic and happens so early that kids who learned the miracle of balancing this way won’t remember the magic moment when they first could do it because they acquired the ability at such a young age.
For me there was much anticipation and for several weeks prior involved some discussions about removing the training wheels. Was that what I really wanted? Was I sure? Did I feel ready? This was serious, important stuff. And what I didn’t know at the time was when my mother had been around my age, her mother had witnessed the horror of a small bicycling child being killed in a collision with an automobile, so she was never allowed to have or ride a bicycle. She never learned how to ride. Like the millions of people all over the world who somehow never learn how to swim, I guess. It’s probably why she took my learning how to ride very seriously.
My first time was on a regular sidewalk only a hundred feet from the house we were living in at that time. The training wheels had just been removed, but I don’t remember by whom. I don’t remember ever riding it with training wheels, even once, but I’m sure I must have, and many times.
It was a bright, clear sunny warm spring day. Probably a Saturday as my dad was at work and I wasn’t in school. The street in front of the house ran slightly downhill. There wasn’t the usual grassy boulevard between the sidewalk and the street. Directly to my right was a curb with a drop of several inches to street level. There were no parked cars which meant everyone who had a car had already driven off for work or whatever. Not everyone had a car during the late 1950’s.
My mother and I walked up to the corner, and I was pushing the bike. I’m sure she wore a simple cotton house dress, as was her custom. Or maybe Bermuda shorts, which were very popular. But I don’t think so. I don’t remember some details. Only that ‘Mom jeans’ were non-existent. Still decades in the future. And I was on the sidewalk, not in the street.
There was one home between our house and the corner. White. Clapboard siding. Porch. Both the street and the avenue were residential-quiet, and the intersection was uncontrolled from all directions. You were supposed to look both ways before crossing, which probably I wasn’t allowed to do. But my little limited world was about to radically change.
Today I think this neighbourhood had been built only thirty years earlier, around the mid 1920’s. The street and sidewalk surfaces were all concrete, not asphalt. Up at the corner I turned the bike around, my mother grabbed the underside of the saddle and I climbed on. There were a few brief words of discussion or encouragement, but whatever they were is another forgotten detail. A low hedge bordered to the immediate left of the sidewalk, running along the front yard of our neighbour’s house. Maybe two feet high at most.
She let me go with a light push. I made it about fifty incredible feet and then don’t exactly remember what happened next. For some reason I think maybe I crashed into the hedge and cried (?) but was uninjured and immediately got back to the top of the street and did it again. Successfully. Or maybe I got going ok that first time and came to a safe (Bendix!) coaster-braked stop in front of our house.
Whatever it was, all I know for sure was that suddenly I could actually balance, perfectly and easily, and in that one magical instant my life was forever changed. Thanks to a huge dose of adrenaline right at that exact moment I can still remember all this as clearly as if it just happened yesterday. I can still go back to the exact moment when I first acquired wings and began to fly. To leave the nest behind.
From that day on I could not stop riding.”