I bet you think this is about when someone doesn’t call you back after a date. That’s a tactic in romance when you’re not at a point worthy of a “breakup” just yet. It happens to most people at some point. It’s distinct from being stood-up, which has also happened to me a couple of times; most notably one time I was stood up and another guy answered the phone when I tried to call. She was on another date.

When you google “ghosting a bike” you get a bunch of results relating to painting an old beater white and sticking it at an intersection where someone died. I think this gained popularity when the comic strip “Yehuda Moon” had one.

I learned a new skill today. By “learned” I mean I did something for the first time. This is a notable thing. A few weeks ago, I cut down a tree with an Ax, which I had never done before. It was a small tree or whatever but it was a new thing. Not really worth a narcissistic blog or even micro-blog post. Just a new experience.

But today’s experience was more interesting. I’ve had a few occasions lately to consider “ghosting” a bike, and today I was able to do it for some considerable distance.  This is where you need to transport a bicycle using your bicycle. I gave some consideration to bungee-cording the front wheel of the empty bike to the rack on mine, but it just didn’t seem stable.

Getting started was a completely new experience. Riding fixed gear, using foot retention, track stands, no-hands, bunny hops… these were all similar experiences in learning handling skills, but for some reason ghosting another bike took me back to the original process of learning how to ride a bike. It was a vividly retrospective moment. The memory of my dad holding the bike while I was starting to pedal was a strong as ever.

If you’re trying to learn this new skill, it helps to be on a flat road. Going downhill and uphill were very difficult for me, enough that for the biggest part of the climb, I got off and walked both bikes. I was doing a tune up for a friend, and it wasn’t quite far enough to not ride, or too far to bother with a car either. Anyway, I feel pretty good about being able to do it, and it definitely gave me a new feeling of bike-handling skill.

So the trick to this is to hold the ghost-bike by the stem, and you can indeed lean a bit of weight on it. I was very nervous about this at first, but it turns out that the tandem arrangement causes it to act a bit like if you had a sidecar on a motorcycle. It was pretty easy once I got over this fear.

I really really don’t recommend ghosting while clipped into any kind of foot retention. Any average cyclist should be able to do it, just get going slowly to start with, and remember it’s ok to leave a bit of weight on the arm holding the stem of the ghost-bike.

The mission to return a bike was a success – especially since they gave me another bike in return for their tune-up. Luckily for my N+1 calculation my wife has been biking a lot more lately!

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