Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ride like a kid!

That’s one of the appealing aspects of riding a fixed gear. I go out the door and ride at whatever pace seems right. There’s no fiddling with gears. It’s all about RIDING, not equipment. And while I admit that the low maintenance and simplicity are strong points, it’s still the ride that counts. Kids don’t worry about cadence and heart rates. They just ride for the sheer joy of it. I think that’s one of the reasons cycling attracts those of us who want to feel like kids again!

But there are several things I haven’t tried yet on a fixie. Adults know their limitations. Kids don’t.

Skid stops. No kidding! I’ve ridden a fixed gear off and on for nearly 30 years, and that’s one thing I haven’t done. I probably won’t do it ever. My weight is hovering at about 215. I break stuff, and then I have to fix it. Reliability is a factor when riding to work and back, so there’s little reason to over-stress the drivetrain, and I really want to avoid being forced to walk after something breaks.

“Stoppies” – the opposite of a wheelie. Actually, I’ve done some stoppies, but never on purpose. Braking hard causes any bike to transfer weight to the front wheel. The only difference with a fixed gear is that you can FEEL the loss of traction at the rear wheel. I regard it as a good thing because it warns of the adhesion limit. It’s also the main reason I prefer a fixed gear on wet roads.

For that matter, I’ve never done a wheelie, except for an accidental heavy-handed application of throttle on my old motorcycle. It was something I didn’t repeat. I’ll pop a wheel up in the air to ride over a curb on the bicycle, but there’s no way I’d try to keep it aloft! Hey! I’m 53 years old, and it takes too long to recover from falls. Then again, I’m not too bright sometimes, and I have to explain my actions to She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed with the highly unpopular, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!”

Riding backwards. This is possible on a fixed gear, but again, I’ve never tried it. See ‘falls’ above!

Attempts at a track stand have been…well, let’s just leave it at ‘embarrassing’. Long, long ago, in one of my dumber moments, I attempted to trackstand next to a carload of girls. I was showing off. I promptly toppled over and flopped around on the pavement, trapped in the pedals. The girls thought it was highly amusing. I’ve been wary of trackstands ever since.

I titled this ‘Ride like a kid!’ because I was thinking of my son. He’s still young enough to think he’s bulletproof and capable of nearly anything. I may get him a unicycle for his birthday. Who knows? Maybe he’ll work up a circus act!

Then I remembered a guy performing on a circus bike at a velodrome. He did all those things I just wrote about. He went backwards and forwards, sometimes riding the bike like a unicycle around the infield. The bike had a straight handlebar that he slapped. The fork started spinning as he pedaled in a big circle. It was amazing! Then he stopped, and switched the handlebar with the seat, remounted and pedaled away, steering with his butt!

Jordan would love to see that act. And he wouldn’t hesitate to try it. There’s no way I would consider it, of course, but maybe I’m getting too old to ride like a kid all the time.

Naaah! I just might try riding backwards!


Blogger Fritz said...

Hi Ed,

It sounds like you ride like a pansy... which is exactly how I ride my fixie :-) I use the brakes to stop and don't stand (that much). I have tried to go backwards without much luck.

4:12 PM  

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