Report: Hands-Free Derby

[This report was brought to you by Hand-Free Derby organizer Chris “Fool” McCraw, via the Shift list.]

this was a strange sort of ride—bring yourself on your bike to
overlook park and then spend the rest of the evening going nowhere, or
more precisely in a small circle. but the catch, of course, is that
you cannot touch your handlebars.

12 intrepid competitors and at least as many spectators came out to
test their mettle in riding or sitting in the path of potential harm.
it was like roller derby, only friendlier! a total lack of hipster
posturing and some of that team spirit brought fun to the hearts of
girls, boys, and an occasional dog as we did our loops.

team shift represented really well, with daniel “teknotus” j taking
the majority of the prizes for the night, but surprise competitor carl
doing two laps in record time to take the fast lap purse.

we had 3 events, the time trial, the slowest lap (think mcbf’s slow
race, but in a circle and without handlebar interaction), and the
endurance laps. we started off with a slow lap with an unexpected #
of DQ’s, with style points going to aurelia, our youngest competitor
whose dad was there to cheer her on. Daniel took it in fine time,
trumping all competitors who finished (only 2!) by more than 20

then came the fast lap, with a lot of finishers in the sub-30-second
range, but Carl came out ahead with his mad aero skills (have you ever
seen someone get into the drops, only, not touching their handlebars?
you’d be amazed at his style!) with not just one but 2 fast finishes
as the drunken judge had failed to accurately record initial finishing
times. mea culpa!

then on to the main event, the endurance race, which i believed daniel
had in the bag from second one, but there were several strong
competitors! lillian (also of team shift), sole inspirer of this
event, would have kept up with him for quite some time were it not for
two mechanical failures in lap one. i expect that the two of them
will be duking it out for honors in round 2, scheduled tentatively for

also giving strong showings were Carl (who only went down when
attempting to pick up a beer from ground level) and Chad (?) who won
the style competition by riding 1/4 lap with no hands and a beer
balanced on his helmet. he later found a second beer (we did not ask
the origin) and proceeded to drink it as he cruised to second placery.

what we learned:
– no pain, no pain. no competitors or spectators or even bystanders
were harmed in the making of this event.
– holy shit, this was fun. see you guys out there in august!

watch this list for the announcement of round 2. and don’t forget to
practice! we may choose a new arena for round 2, but you can practice
any time. rubber side down, hands not required.

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Elly Blue (Columnist)

Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for since 2006. Find her at

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Jonathan Maus
14 years ago

New blog post: Report: Hands-Free Derby