Tag Archive for: black arts

instruction changes things

A Little Instruction Really Changes Things

How are you at backing up with a trailer on your car? If you’re like many people, you haven’t had reason to do so, and thus find the idea daunting.

It seems like a black art to many, based on the reactions I’ve gotten from people when I backed trailers into narrow spaces.

Decoding the black arts of trailers and savvy cycling.

My wife, Jenn, was going on a road trip with my sister. One of several things they planned to accomplish involved moving some things that won’t fit in or on our car. Rather than rent a truck for the whole trip, renting a trailer made sense, since it could be picked up close to the first house and dropped off close to the second.

It made sense to me, but not to Jenn.

Jenn didn’t feel comfortable maneuvering a trailer in close quarters, and especially didn’t feel good about having to back up with a trailer, after an unpleasant experience she had a few years ago.

Why is this related to savvy cycling, you ask? Read on.

I’m pretty good with trailers, having done a LOT of backing up with them in various occupations (tow truck driver, airport tug driver, bicycle trailer user). I figured that with a couple of short sessions, Jenn would gain confidence in her ability to navigate in tighter quarters than she had thought herself able to manage before.

Since we’re both CyclingSavvy instructors, we know the value of parking lot drills. It’s important to have a quiet place to develop and practice a skill before venturing out on actual roads and using the skill “in the real world.”

With that in mind, we rented a trailer the same size as the one they’d be using for the trip, and headed to a mall parking lot to practice.

I started with basic rules:

  • Always turn wi