Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Art and Science of a One-Handed Wheelie

The love for the wheelie arose in me when I was a young boy. I was watching television one night when a special episode came on about a guy name Evel Knievel. For those of you unaware of this name he is renowned as a motorcycle daredevil. Madman might be a more appropriate word since the first time I saw him he was trying to jump over a place called "Snake River Canyon" in a rocket car! He didn't make it, but during the preview show I saw clip after clip of Evel riding endless wheelies on his old school Harley Davidson. This inspired me! This inspired me so much that at nine p.m. on a school night I went outside and attempted it on my Huffy BMX bike. Miraculously, I couldn't even get the front tire off of the ground. I was perplexed and wondered how Evel made it look so easy. It took me awhile to realize that I had no strength, coordination, or balance and he had a thing called a throttle. I did learn that pulling up on my handlebars 50 times did make my shoulders sore!
As I reached pre-pubescence I almost achieved a growth spurt and I finally "got up" my first wheelie. Unfortunately, I pulled up so hard that I went over entirely landing on my back and knocked the wind out of myself. There I was laid out in the middle of the street fighting for air with pebbles pressed into my backside and stars in my eyes!
It's been a long tough road of trial and error to get just a simple wheelie down. The easiest way to learn is to start off on a slight grassy incline. Practice a few times (perhaps more) coordinating a strike down on a pedal at the one o'clock position with a pull upwards on the handlebars. Choose an easy gear like the middle ring all the way up in the back gear. By pushing down on the pedals and pulling up and leaning back from the top half of your body you should be able to achieve flight with your front wheel. This could take awhile, but have faith. Once you can "get it up" it will be important to keep your right hand on your back brake. This will become the modulator for keeping up the front wheel. If you start to lean back, give it a little brake. Too far back and you better grab a hand full before you end up on your back. To learn to keep pedaling and feathering the rear brake is the secret to holding a successful wheelie.
Now, once you have that down all you have to do to achieve a one-hander is to let go with one hand! Make sure you let go with your left hand so that your right hand can still brake. Believe it or not, the handlebars will turn and your right hand will come closer to your body. This will feel weird at first, but you will find it gives a new sense of control. Next, throw your hand up in the air like a bullrider at the PBR series! This gives a much greater effect to those that are watching. Plus, it gives you that "Hi-O Silver" feel that you have always wanted! I wish you luck in your big wheel endeavours.

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