QUESTION: I want to learn to take off my jacket while riding, but more experienced cyclists tell me it’s a dangerous practice. Why? I see pros do it in races all the time. — Malcolm C.
RBR REPLIES: It’s not hard to peel off a jacket or vest if you can ride no-hands comfortably and you’re careful. But there are two major dangers:
First, it’s easy to take the first arm out of its sleeve, but then you have a fluttering jacket to contend with. I call it the “cowboy movie” predicament. Your hands are essentially tied behind your back briefly as you reach behind to pull it off the other arm. That’s not good if you start losing your balance or need to get at the brakes quickly.
It’s more likely to happen if your jacket has tight wrist openings and you’re trying to pull the sleeve over bulky, long-finger gloves.
Second potential problem: While the jacket is still on one arm, it could drop down too low and catch in the rear wheel. That can suck the fabric forward into the rear brake, abruptly slowing the bike. Because you’re sitting up, you’re apt to pitch forward and lose control.
Practice will help you develop a technique that avoids disaster. Always look up the road first to be sure you have a clear and unobstructed path for a couple hundred yards. Be especially cautious on a windy day or a gust might cause you to lose control. And don’t do it in a group unless you’re at the very back. It’s the height of irresponsibility to risk the safety of other riders.
Or, just stop for 15 seconds, pull off the jacket, wad it tight, stick it into your jersey pocket and live to fight another day. What’s the rush?