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Baptism of the Fixie

by on September 8, 2011

This Ride: 24.2 miles
Month: 237.6 miles
2011: 5,355 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 11,474.7 miles

It wasn’t raining between 3:30 & 5:00 am. I was hopeful that the trend would continue.  We weren’t that lucky.  It began raining just after 5, and there was even a little thunder along with it.  I debated about riding, but I had promised some others that I would be riding my new fixie this morning and so I went out.  Here is a snapshot of the radar about the time we finished the ride.  The weather system is moving straight north.

In addition to steady rain during most of the ride, we encountered standing water of up to 3 inches deep, a washed out section of the B&A Trail, and a little bit of leaf debris.  At least it was warmish … 70° F.

Four of us rode this morning, including Chip on his fixie.  He and I rode together as he gave me pointers and was very encouraging.  My present gearing will change, although this gearing made it easy to climb the short hills we normally encounter on the ride.  I did achieve 27.6 mph on the fixie with an RPM of 132.  I was riding the brakes a bit at that point.  At that speed, imagine frog legs in a blender.  There were only a few times when I wanted to coast, but of course the bike wouldn’t let me.

Observations from my first real ride on the fixie:

  1. I definitely felt connected to the bike.
  2. Riding through standing water means your feet are going to get wet.  There is no coasting so there is no chance to keep the feet up and dry.
  3. Starting is tougher.  Clip in one foot.  Start the bike.  Chase the other pedal around to clip in the other foot.  That’s a lot to coordinate in the dark, in the rain, at 5:30 in the morning!
  4. Hills definitely have to be anticipated.  This should dramatically improve my approach to hills.
  5. My legs feel the effort.  Although one can “soft pedal” or let the pedals take the legs around with them, there is no stopping for even a few seconds rest.

After Chip left at White’s road to go back home, I doubled back to see if I could find Dave and Scott.  Dave had a flat, and was simply adding CO2 in an attempt to limp home.  I rode with him to the Rusty Bridge, then rode home.  A towel was waiting for me as I got home.  I peeled off what I could without getting arrested for indecent exposure, wrung out my socks, and had a quick hot shower.  It felt good.

And for those of you who are still not sure what a “fixie” is … simply put, it is a single speed/gear bike.  The rear cog is directly attached to the rear axle so that there is no coasting.  If the wheel is turning, so are the pedals.  It is possible to pedal such a bike backwards.  I’ll let you know when I perfect that trick.

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