Stupid Bike Tricks

I've always, always loved bikes. The pedal kind rather than the leafblower-on-wheels kind, that is. As far back as I can recall, I've had a bike, and been apt to do assorted silly things with it despite my prospensity for breaking easily. The upshot being that my bike always tends to look a bit knackered, although I do tend to keep the actual essential stuff (i.e. chain, brakes, etc.) in perfect working order while the rest of the bike slowly disintegrates.

The Purple Taxi

One of the earliest things I can recall is having a bike with an oddly chunky blue frame, to which I applied "Mexican Rose" paint - a sort of off-pink - and the resulting beast was referred to as the "Purple Taxi". I learned to cycle without holding the handlebars on this bike; I also used construct ramps and jump over things with it. It didn't have a freewheel sprocket for some strange reason, so when the chain came off and jammed into the rear sprocket, the bike stopped. Abruptly. This caught me in Man's Worst Place at least once.

Double Trouble

Subsequent to the Purple Taxi was a Raleigh 18, your average 20"-wheel non-geared bike. About the same time there was also a folding bike with much the same dimensions as the 18, and a big chunky bike of unknown brand that I seem to recall we picked up second-hand somewhere. I've got siblings; they weren't all my bikes! My mechanically-minded brother attached the folding bike to the chunky bike, making a tandem which was near-impossible to control at low speeds by virtue of there being a hinge in the middle. Wham, splat.

Also at some point during this period, I was pedalling through town on the 18, and looked to one side to check out what was on in the cinema. Wham, splat #2. Wound up lying on the back of a parked car.

Homegrown BMX

Then the same brother built a dirt-track bike from the frame of the Raleigh 18, with a really REALLY low gear ratio (you could almost cycle up vertical surfaces with this), straightened front forks and a braced, sprung saddle that went way out over the back wheel. The combination of the straight forks and the overhanging saddle meant the bike would pop a wheelie at the slightest effort. For good measure, it had no brakes other than back-pedal (aka "coaster brake", for you 'mericans), and it had a loose chain, meaning that sometimes, well, you didn't have brakes because the chain had come off. This caused me one "event" whereby I was powering up to do a big slide across the gravel drive of my parents' house, and the chain came off. I realised immediately that there was nothing I could do, and was laughing heartily as the front wheel impacted the ditch on the far side of the drive and I went sailing head-first into the hedge. No pain, MUCH amusement.

Death Wish

My next bike was a racer, inherited from my brother. It was badly sprayed bronze when I inherited it; one of the first things I did was to repaint it in metallic blue. Then I took the paints I used for my t-shirt painting, and applied them to the bike. The bike was christened "Death Wish", and the name was written on the crossbar. Soon after, I started chalking up the things I ran into on Death Wish: two cars, any number of people, and another bike. This last was a rather spectacular off; my friend Shane and I were cycling to my folks' house from town, and doing assorted cycling silliness along the way (playing chicken, "surfing", that sort of stuff). We were trying to ride in perfect line astern, and I overshot. My front wheel went to the left of his rear, and then I tried to compensate too quickly by turning my wheel to the right. It caught on his rear wheel, and I went over. I saw the bike sailing over my head as I rolled on the ground, and it landed nose down, on its front wheel and handlebars, before falling over sideways. I got away with some road rash on my elbow.

I also raced Death Wish down the steepest hill in my home town, passing the guy I was racing at about 35MPH and then leaving much of the back tyre on the road as I attempted to slow down, since the hill ends in a T-junction, i.e. no run-off. That was pretty exhilirating, and not quite as much fun as racing the same guy up the same hill.

Alas, Death Wish was later stolen.

Brief Sanity

After Death Wish, I inherited my other brother's bike, and proceeded to not use it very much - I was in college, and spent a lot of time in the computer labs and hanging out with bikeless people. Sanity reigned for a few years in that I'd no incidents of note.

Mountain Bike

When I started working in Cork after college, I bought a brand new bike. A Trek 800. This is like an SUV; it looks like a chunky, offroad sort of beast, but is really intended never to leave the tarmac. Not that that stopped me or anything, but it doesn't have the most crucial feature of an offroad bike, shock absorbers. I had one tiny off with this bike in Cork despite almost two years of cycling like a maniac through traffic, and that was when I hit a patch of ice and went over sideways. Fortunately, low speed and no traffic to run me over.

Dublin Biking

Then I moved to Dublin.

Woah. What a difference. I posted to the DSPsrv my 10 rules of city biking shortly after moving there. My peripheral vision is the main reason I've not had a serious biking injury in Dublin, although it's not for want of trying:

Eventually, I got my own car to defend myself with. The bike is sitting on the balcony here at the moment.

Someone else's funny bike accident: While I was living in Cork in 1992, my friend John and I used go drinking downtown on a fairly regular basis. One day while walking pubwards, we saw a guy cycling up the road towards us with his leather jacket slung across the handlebars. The jacket started slipping, and as he drew abreast of us, it jammed into the front wheel. The bike tipped up and catapulted the guy over the handlebars.

Clean over.

He landed on his feet in front of the bike, looking slightly stunned. John and I continued strolling down the street, and collapsed into fits of laughter at a safe remove from the incident. It seems to be a common sort of accident, though.