Editor's note: When my old-skool compai Vince read this, he said,
How it Started
After two crashes in as many days last week, I knew something must be up. At first I thought it was a sign that I needed a better brake, but then I got to thinking (and riding) and it came to me....
Am I Really Doing This??
Of course, I was somewhat dubious about my conclusions. My "common sense" kept flaring up: this is berkeley after all, and I don't live in the flat part anymore- I live in the hills. How could it be safer to ride without brakes? So I devised an experiment, of sorts- I'd ride brakeless for a week, or at least as long as it took the new brake to come in the mail, and if I still had faith in my conclusions, I'd keep the brake off.
Yes Am I Really Doing This!!
Well here we are, a week later, and I am brakeless, and a safer rider for it. I am more aware of traffic, of pedestrians, of doors. I ride more flow, no sprints followed by quick deceleration at the other end of the block, simply because I have to. I find myself not taking the same risks I would with the "safety net" of the brake. I ride at a more laid back pace, to facilitate braking by backpressure, and I'm not tempted to go faster, especially because I have not yet mastered skipping/skidding. I wear a helmet where I wouldn't where one before.
The culmination of the week was last night, when I took the fix to the Berkeley critical mass (yeah, we like to do things differently here in Berkeley...) and rode 2+ hours brakeless, feeling perfectly in control the entire time. Besides this fact, I met another brakeless rider (with an awesome old skool cinelli) who had come to the exact same conclusion- and he'd been riding brakeless for a year.
So I thought I'd make my joining the ranks of brakeless riders official. This is my testimonial.
© Jeremy Till, 2004
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