The Track Stand Balancing act

The more and more time I spend commuting by bike the more peculiarities I find among the cycling community. Something that I have always noticed but never really paid any attention to is the traffic light dance/balancing act thing that some cyclists seem to have going on while attempting do do a ‘track stand’. Now, in terms of commuting, I know that it must be annoying to keep unclipping from the pedals every time you hit a red light only to have to clip back in again seconds later, so I can understand the convenience of the track stand in these circumstances. And there are some cyclists who pull this off perfectly. You know the sort; they pull up to the lights, come to a steady halt and stop. Dead. Perfectly balanced on their steed, unfaltering, unwavering, motionless. It’s like someone pressed the pause button on reality. If that’s you, then ok smart arse, you look good. But if you can’t pull this off, don’t do it. Please, just don’t even try. Some of you nearly have it; you wobble a little from side to side, give an little at the front, take some more from the back. You still look a bit daft next to the zen-like creature in a perpetual state of stability next to you, but not bad, good effort. If on the other hand, you have to move half a foot every second just to stop yourself from falling off, then give up, this is not a track stand, this is a pillock wobbling all over the road. Aside from providing me and the missus with some light entertainment, it’s actually quite a dangerous operation to be this unsteady on your bike, especially if you are toppling into the path of the cyclists around you. If there’s only you and one other guy with a whole velodrome to yourselves then fair enough, but typically this is not the situation I find myself in on my daily commute.

The other day, the missus and I pulled up to a set of traffic lights in Kennington. The cyclist in front, anticipating the light change to red, slows almost to a halt and proceeds to travel at about one meter per hour for the next 20ft towards the lights. He’s blocking entry to the bike box, but who cares, so long as he doesn’t actually have to stop, right? He’s causing a queue of cyclists to be backed up in the cycle lane, but so what – technically he’s still on the move, yey him! Eventually, we reach the lights, and they’re still on red, but he hasn’t given up. He turns his front wheel and lunges forward and to the left, then pulls back to the right, then forward to the left, back again, then forward…he keeps this little dance up for quite some time as other cyclists surround him. There’s quite a few of us now, but he’s still going, swaying and rocking all over the place like he’s performing some kind of demented mating ritual. His last attempt to stay on his bike ends in him lunging sideways into the path of another cyclist. In order to avoid a collision he has to brake hard and stumbles off…just in time for the lights to turn amber. Well that little game of cat and mouse ended well.


4 responses to “The Track Stand Balancing act

  1. It’s called “track standing”. The highly adept are able to perform it with no hands, and, even, only one foot clipped in. Obviously, that is usually only done for demonstration purposes. It is a lot easier on a fixed wheel bike, as you can make corrections in both directions without the lunging that you have noticed.

  2. Ahh, thank you – I’ve amended the post accordingly. Had a little look on YouTube and will be posting the results in the Videos as well.

  3. whats a bike box?!
    i was a biker [with out engine] the worst driver were young women they just about run you over
    they seem to have a spacial distance challenge
    it’s the traffic fumes that stopped me going out
    love flat roads! i live at the top of a hill so it’s gruellling – now i’m a tad concerned that someone will grab my bike when i’m crawing up the hill!
    i did have someone try to take my rooksack while i was doing 2 meters per minute!
    it shooke me up for a while – i think i need a session of trauma deberifing!

  4. The bike box is an area at the front of a junction reserved for cyclists to allow them to get a head start away from the traffic. It’s contained by thick white lines and is often green in colour with a bicycle symbol in the middle. The proper name for these road markings is ‘advanced stop lines’ (e.g. as referenced in the Highway Code etc).

    Not sure I agree with your observation of young women drivers, as I would say middle aged male taxi drivers or young male motorcyclists are more dangerous/inconsiderate. But then, being a young woman myself I might be a little biased ;)

    That’s awful that someone tried to take your rucksack off you, let alone while you were actually moving. I did read about a young woman who got put in a coma after youths on mopeds yanked a bag off the back of her bike, so I’m not at all surprised you were shook up by the experience!

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