The old guy is learning to idle!

One of my frustrations with doing distance rides on my 28" is the lack of ability to idle at intersections. On the theory that you’re never too old to learn, I tried idling my 20" in my garage while holding on to a support pole. On my last attempt I was able to let go and rock back and forth about a half dozen times. Initially I tried it with my right foot in the low position but the knee hasn’t fully recovered from its third surgery and that was too painful. I switched to the left foot low and met with some success.

Some observations:

  1. In my earlier attempts I was using too little forward-rear motion and needed to lengthen each stroke.
  2. As is true with riding, I need to look at the horizon, not down.
  3. The more I practiced, the more the left quad became tired. I’m guessing that will ease as my technique improves.
  4. I’m assuming that mastering idling will make it a whole lot easier to learn to ride backwards.

I haven’t tried it on the 28" yet but figure it will be more difficult.

Idling on a bigger wheel is harder but not impossible, you’ll get there. It gets easier as you get better, just keep practicing. Short strokes will be fine once you get the hang of it.

Rock on! You’re setting the bar pretty high for us younger dudes…

As you get better at idling, you’ll be able to relax more. As with riding, try and put more and more weight on the seat and concentrate on your balance. It actually takes very little muscle to idle. The “upper” foot is completely unnecessary and once you become comfortable with idling you can easily pop that foot onto the frame and give that leg a rest.


Thanks as always for the advice and encouragement!

A good exercise is to practice riding in a very small space, like cement plot behind your house or on a small driveway. Just idle back and forth and move around backward and forward a stroke or two at a time. It’s a super work out to stay in the saddle for as long as possible; eventually you’ll learn you have to relax or you’ll burn out. In time you can do this in an eight square foot circle, or even smaller. It’s hard on a Muni with a big mushy tire but the control you gain is valuable on the trail.


I’m another ‘old guy’ trying to get idling down. Problem I have is, I just have too much fun riding around and practicing other stuff like, riding up and down curbs and hopping so, I just don’t practice idling that much. I recently decided it was time to really start practicing idling so I’m spending a little dedicated time at it each day. I do right leg down and I can usually get in half a dozen or so cycles pretty consistently but I always start getting a little off balance and it’s over. It still makes me sick to watch videos of people who can idle endlessly. I’ve also discovered it’s much more difficult to do on my 29er compared to the 24. Feels like so much more inertia to have to overcome on the bigger wheel. I’m going to spend a lot of time at idling this winter in my garage when it’s cold and snowy outside. Well, it’s my lunch hour so I’m going outside to ride a little.:slight_smile: :slight_smile:

BTW, your tip of looking at the horizon while idling seems to help me a lot too.