Don’t mistake me for being superficial: I know the difference between real stuff and trivial flim-flam.
Real stuff is the 90 mile bike ride, the 3,000 metres of ascent, and the bent double in the wind and rain fixing a puncture 50 miles from home. Flim-flam, on the other hand, is the new merino wool jersey that just arrived in its gift-wrapped packaging, the stop for coffee and cake half way through a 25 mile ride, and the apple crumble flavoured energy gels.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the trivial and superficial side of things, nor that the gritty bits are inherently noble and worthy, I’m just pointing out that there’s a difference and I know what it is.
I’m doing this, because this is the pre-amble to a piece about the genius that is putting on, or taking off, a waterproof jacket none-handed without breaking your pedal stroke.
Essentially, I’m worried that you might think I’m being trivial. Which I am. But you know that I know…
You see, once you have mastered this act of dressing/undressing on the bike you automatically move up a notch on the cycling style-ometer. Whether that is in the eyes of your friends and companions, or just within your own internal cycling style-ometer (what…just me?) is unimportant.
If you can do it you can do it, and that is it’s own reward.
Whether or not your riding companions mention the manoeuvre you have just executed I can guarantee they will have noticed. If they are not yet masters of this domain they will be wide-eyed with mild awe and busy plucking up the courage to have a go themselves. If they are old hands, you might elicit a sage nod of appreciation at some point.
You are part of an exclusive club now.
Picture the scene. You are happily pedalling along when, out of the blue, rain begins to fall. Perhaps your friends are already wearing their waterproofs so to pull over and layer up would require either the group to stop and wait, or you’d have to stop, dress, and furiously catch up.
Not ideal, either way. It’s time for the no-hands move.
To my mind, an average non-professional cyclist, there are three key aspects to successfully and elegantly putting on your waterproof mid-ride.
Incidentally, successfully and elegantly are two very different things.
A successful end result is one where you emerge from the manoeuvre 200 yards down the road wearing a waterproof. An elegant one will result in your riding companions, or even random passers-by, having to physically restrain themselves from offering you an enthusiastic round of applause such was the grace of your execution.
Firstly, you need to pick your moment. You are looking for a flat, straight road with very little traffic and a smooth surface of tarmac. If you attempt this on a bumpy and ragged single track lane with a rolling profile, you deserve everything that comes your way.
Secondly, your waterproof jacket should be stowed away in your jersey pocket with zip undone. To reach gracefully around to your pocket, remove the waterproof with a wink and a winning smile, and then fumble with the zip and grasp wildly for the handlebars falls a long way short of the elegant outcome you’re after.
It requires untold levels of skill and nerve to successfully unzip your waterproof and end up casually wearing it without having a less than friendly get-together with the tarmac in between.
Give yourself a fighting chance, eh?
Finally, sit up straight, keep your hips balanced over the saddle, and relax. If you tense up, you’ll crash. If you lean forward, you’ll crash. If your hips wobble about, you’ll crash.
Look, the fact is that even if you do all these things, you might crash.
Don’t blame me. I’m not saying you should attempt this manoeuvre, I’m just saying that if you do and you don’t crash, you’ll go up in everyone’s estimation.
It’s your call.