My Month of Doing 100 Wheelies a Day
In her quest to master a quintessential cool-kid trick, Outside contributor Kim Cross found the sweet spot at the crossroads of work and play
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A wheelie is the bicycling equivalent of hanging ten on a surfboard or spinning a basketball on your finger—a skill as profoundly cool as it is functionally irrelevant. Pedaling around with one wheel in the air won’t help you win a race or bomb a gnarly descent. Unlike a front-wheel lift or a bunny hop, it has no business on a trail.
What the wheelie lacks in utility it makes up for with pure, unfiltered radness. There’s something thrilling about a skill that isn’t a means to an end but the end itself, whose value in doing it is just doing it, simply because you can. Yet it’s more than showing off. It’s about seeking an elusive, almost mystical state of precarious, dynamic balance. You’re chasing a sweet spot, a moving target that’s constantly shifting in every dimension, including the one inside your head.
In 20 years of mountain biking, this skill has always eluded me. So in January 2020, I hatch a plan: 100 wheelies per day for 30 days—3,000 attempts, all told—spread out over two or three months. I’ll consult some experts about technique, but mostly I’ll just put in the work. And I’m willing to fail prodigiously.
How will I define success? The ability to wheelie indefinitely, until I choose to put the wheel down. I’ll simultaneously tackle the manual—a different method of one-wheeled cruise control—because maybe the moves will inform each another. And also because: Why not?
It’s a juvenile pursuit for a professional writer with a mortgage and a 12-year-old boy. There are more productive uses of my time. But maybe, just maybe, there’s some value in tilting at your own quixotic windmill.