Friday, April 18, 2008

100K fixed

The Daffodil Classic marked my first over 50 mile ride on the fixed gear. While my top speed, and consequently my average speed, suffered, the climbs were easier than anticipated. I admittedly had to walk a few short sections but no entire climbs. It was certainly a different experience...especially when everybody whizzed past me on the descents. But as far as I'm aware, I was the only person who rode the course on a fixed or even a single speed--so I don't feel too bad.

I have never fielded so many questions on a ride before. Everyone kept asking me how the hills were treating me. The hills were fine so long as I was going UP them. It was the DOWN that hurt! I think I developed carpel tunnel from squeezing the front brake. Yet some cheered me on and others just thought I was nuts.

Somewhere along my return from Eatonville, I missed a course marking and rode all the way into Graham on the wrong road. Oops. My girlfriend, a Graham native, quickly corrected my path via cellphone and I was off again. I was only a few miles off....

All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed the first long distance fixed ride. I was in horrible pain the next day however. Heh heh!

Would I do it again?

Hell yeah!

Will I do it again?

Hell yeah!

See you at the next charity ride.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kill Hipsters

A former co-worker of mine got me into the whole charity riding thing last year and I'm glad she did. I enjoy riding my bike, and as much as I can't stand most people, I like to help out where I can. When I told her I'd be bringing the trusty 925 on the 2007 MS 150, she hinted that I was nuts...which may be true. I joked that I'd ride the whole weekend fixed (which I didn't...I pussed out and rode the free side). My friend asked me if I still had brakes on the 925. Of course I do (well...I I just have "brake"). She was relieved because, as she told me:

"Fixes kill hipsters."

Which may be true. I haven't read any studies on hipster death recently. But, even if it does, what the fuck do I care? I like Motorhead not Modest Mouse. The guys on the pink fixies in the tight girls' jeans don't have anything in common with me. My fixed gear isn't just for coffee shop runs to get some caramel blow me latte.

In my opinion, kill the hipsters. Hell, if we don't do it, they'll just commit suicide while listening to emo music anyway.

Friday, April 11, 2008

First Fixie Ride

I called the LBS today, and whaddayaknow, the front wheel that I ordered had come in! That was the present to myself that I needed after putting up with my usual shitty work week. As I popped my head into the LBS, the owner presented me with my shiny new Alex rim with it's low flange Formula hub. I picked out a couple of new water bottles to replace my moldy, dirty old ones that I never wash, picked out a pair of chain tensioners, and cringed at my oncoming heart attack as he ran my debit card through the machine. I reminded myself that I had budgeted for this...I knew this was coming, but it still hurts. I wish bike stuff was free....I suppose if I were sponsored it would be free. But I'm not sponsored and my stuff is not free which is why I drive an old Toyota.

In any case, I convinced myself that I had finished my business at the LBS. But no. The owner had other plans for me. On my way out, he handed me flyers for upcoming tours and charity rides. How could I say no to the only guy in the state that could get the exact wheel I was looking for at a moment's notice? Besides, I like tours and love charity rides that help out others. People have always looked at me as the crazy guy on the single speed.

"You're gonna ride 100 miles on WHAT???!!??!?!?!"

Hey, given my current financial situation, it's my only bike. It's my commuter, my bad weather commuter, my touring bike, my weekend bike. Some days it has full fenders and Buddy Flaps, some days it has none.

But this will be my first ride over 50 miles on the fixed side of the hub. I usually do anything 50 miles or above on a 16T freewheel. I removed the rear brake to avoid any temptation to flip the back wheel. After riding on my newly matched wheelset, I think the Daffodil Classic (yeah, THAT sounds fucking tough....I'm so bad ass) will be nice and smooth. Yet I know I'll have nightmares of bonking and looking like a moron for the next two days.

"Fixies are for hipsters moron!"

I am pretty confident I can prove them all wrong, and maybe even show up a few carbon fiber yuppies in the process. Not many, but a few....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What We Need

Something we all need....a cop barricade.

Yuppie Bars

Apparently somebody started a rumor years that if you put aerobars on your bike, any bike, then you not only become faster and cooler but you can also ride the STP on your Novara hybrid...with your aerobars, finish in a respectable time and be nice and comfy because you have a million hand positions.
Fucking yuppies.

Aerobars have been my nemesis the last few days. It seems with spring on the cusp, all the yuppies are donning their tights, balaclavas, full fingered gloves, and obnoxious "safety yellow" windbreakers in an attempt to "brave" the 55 degree weather in an early season training ride. Full carbon Italian race bikes, steel touring bikes, aluminum hybrids purchased at REI all donning those fucking cheesy aerobars. Cadence, calories and Campy have been the subjects of chatter amongst the ranks of the yuppie charity riders and wannabe racers with more money than skill.

As I bummed around "downtown" Puyallup, searching for traffic to play in, I spied a pair of said aerobar using yuppies. So I quietly took chase. I watched as the pair of men weaved all over the road in a debate on where to stop as the traffic light turned red. Apparently, they had a split descision because one guy stuck to the left side of the lane as the other wobbled his aerobar equipped ride between a car and the curb. Dr. Aerobar slowed and was attempting a shaky trackstand as I pulled up behind him. I think Dr. Aerobar's eyes were fixed on the aerobar itself because he kept creeping forward as if he were chasing the thing.

When the light turned green, I let Dr. Aerobar and his pal pull me for a block or so. After I realized that 15 MPH was the terminal speed for an aerobar, I turned up the Metallica (the Cliff Burton years) on the iPod, dropped the hammer on the full fendered and mudflapped fixie and let the guys know I was coming up on the left.

That was the last I saw of Dr. Aerobar...
Maybe I'll see them at a charity ride this season. Who knows?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cops, Cars and Crashes

I, unfortunately do not reside in a cycling friendly area. A few months ago, I moved out of downtown Tacoma (aka Grit City) into the desolate off ramp tideflat known as Fife, WA. While Tacoma is by no means a cycling Mecca, Fife is a virtual cycling hell. Bike lanes to nowhere, shoulderless roads and tons of clueless drivers just passing through on their way to the next gas pump (of which we have many in this wondrous town). Admittedly, my new locale does enable me to do a relatively easy car/bike hybrid commute to work in the morning, but that and the reasonable rent are the only two positive aspects of this off ramp cum "city." I guess there is the world famous Poodle Dog where they served country fried anything.

In any case, I try to get out and ride from my front door as much as possible. This involves a handful of luck and a lot of faith in a god I don't normally believe in in order to complete the sprint from my apartment complex and across the railroad tracks to where the road widens.
Last week, I took my 925 out for a shakedown run after I had changed out my track cog for a more commuter friendly gear ratio. All was normal for the first mile or so of the ride until some guy in a Jeep Liberty drifted into oncoming traffic and POW! He plowed right into an oncoming semi truck.

Now, I've been riding for a lot of years and I've seen a lot of car accidents (I may have caused a few, who knows?), but I've never been privy to anything quite this bad while on the bike. So, I thought I'd be a good Samaritan and offer to stick around until the cops came to take statements since all the drivers who had witnessed the wreck were more concerned with getting home and watching "My Big Redneck Wedding" than if the driver of the Jeep was OK. The driver of the semi truck informed me that he had called 911 and I said that I'd stick around to make a statement.
Ironically enough, the accident happened in front of, what else, a semi truck shop. One of the chubby mechanics came waddling out, waving a fat index finger in my direction.

"Was he swerving to miss YOU?" Fat Mechanic asked while poking a fat finger my way.
"No asshole, but nice observation," I shot back.
"What did you call me?"
"An asshole," I re-stated.
"Why'd you do that?"
I curtailed my response to head shake because I thought Fat Boy was going to break into tears. I guess nobody had ever called him an asshole before. But in reality, the guy was an asshole. I'm sorry that I had to be the guy to shatter his dream of being a nice fucking guy. I hope he cried himself to sleep that night.

It took the Fife Police Dept. nearly an hour to show up to the accident scene. I guess it must have been 2 for 1 chicken fried steak hour at the Poodle Dog. The cops asked the Fat Mechanics Group if they had seen the accident, they said "no" but they figured that the Jeep must have swerved to miss the guy on the bike. I raised a single finger salute in their direction to ensure that they were aware that I was their Number 1 fan.

At first the cops walked by me four or five times. Because as we all know, the guy on the bike couldn't possibly know anything. Finally, one of the cops asked me if I had seen what happened.
I replied that I really didn't enjoy looking at wrecked Jeeps while freezing my ass off, so yes, I had seen the whole thing.

"Was the driver of the Jeep swerving to avoid you?" was the first question out of the cop's mouth.

I explained that the Jeep had over taken me about a quarter mile previously and that I had no idea what made him drift over. The cop looked skeptical. It HAD to be the cyclist's fault right?
Officer Copper asked me for an ID. He was shocked when I produced a driver's license from my wallet. I don't know what he was expecting--forklift certification I guess.

I've been told by three different police officers in three different cities in this state that bikes shouldn't be on the road. We belong on the sidewalk. I'm hoping that means that the local police department will be responsible for the damages if I mow down some innocent old lady out walking her hairless miniature dog because I was riding on the sidewalk.

Maybe instead of concerning themselves with those pesky bikes on the road, the cops should be out protecting and serving rather than harassing and pissing off.
So, I guess I'd like to say to the Tacoma, Bellingham and Fife Police Departments: I had nothing to do with the head on on 70th Ave and Levee Road and I salute you....with one finger.