No Hands

I saw a guy riding his bicycle no-hands today, and decided that there is no physical attitude I've ever seen cooler than riding a bicycle no-hands. To keep your balance you need to sit back in a slight slouch, with your hands hanging loose at your sides, a posture the epitome of hang-loose. You can't turn your head sharply to look around or indeed tense up in any way. You just gotta let it slide. I took some pride in my ability to ride no-hands when I was a boy - uphill, downhill, gravel roads, you name it - and the personal detachment expressed in the action came back to me when I read "On the Road" a few years later: speeding through a landscape I was relaxed enough to appreciate, without really being part of it, or of the world at all. Leaning forward to take the handlebars again, that inevitable reluctant gesture, always seemed like a surrender to the material. I saw that guy a few minutes later, bending forward and pumping up a long hill. He zipped right along, but it looked like work.

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