Re: Re[CR] Fixed Gear Braking

From: "John Pergolizzi" <>
To: "Doc Simont" <>
References: <003201c2eca0$e7943ed0$f118480c@D1KBTP11> <>
Subject: Re: Re[CR] Fixed Gear Braking
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 22:28:26 -0500

Hey Doc, Good to hear from you. Let me say this: what I advocate is the NON RELIANCE on brakes on any type of fixed gear use on the road. Use um if you have to . But not every time you have to stop. Use and develop your legs. Learn how to stop the bike quickly as if you didn't have brakes even though you do. Like down shifting from 5th to 2ed while Appling the brakes at the same time in your foreign sports car. I saw a training partner come within a foot and a half of get'n wacked by a car while he was trying to cross a blind intersection of the Horace Harding Expressway and XYZ Street (memory defeats me now). Why? Because he did something stupid. He relied on his brakes and not on his good judgment. You ain't gonna have those brakes on the track, so you had better get to know how to slow down and stop that bad boy quick. Certainly, she will be harder to stop in a higher gear. But one of the ideas of using the fixed on the road is to get stronger(at least for racer types). My track gear was 48x14 (92 inches) road training 48x17 (76 inches."The Magic Gear" as referred to by Sammy because you could do any thing on it. And nobody should drop you. At least when your in shape). I will also say that one must use ones own good judgment. Don't go out on some unknown road with the big meat and do down hill sprints. But if you have a "safe" place, jezz, at least try it WITH a brake. I was spoiled early on ; I discovered the beauty of Prospect Park, Brooklyn at 13 years old. A brake will not intrinsically detract from the benefits Doc, but only if the tool is "applied correctly". I also contend that as you put it : " If you're on public roads and (are) interacting with pedestrians, traffic, etc. you (we) have a responsibility to do so safely" does not necessarily mean brakes on the fixed. It does mean riding in a responsible fashion. I admit I just am not as in strong as the old days. The older I get , the faster I was. But I could stop that bad boy just about as fast as any one on a road bike with two brakes. And I will stick by this point; once your savvy, your leg reactions will start stopping you faster then your hand go'n for the brake lever reaction( if your in the drops and not "on" the leavers or just on the top of the leavers. If your always on the leavers, then we will react about equally). But road riders with out track experience are much more likely to "get into trouble". And when you mix those guys up w/ experienced trackies, you'll always hear some shout'n. A "road rider" at the front and a trackie behind who is not paying close attention and looking over, under, or around the front rider is just itch'n for trouble. The guy in the front relies on his brakes to get him out of trouble, the guy in the rear (if savvy) doesn't get into the trouble in the first place (yea it always happens, but it is ALLOT less. At least in my 29 years experience). I do hope to join the 30 year club next year. Maybe this casts alittle more light on this stuff. BUT if you want the real deal, come to The Cirque and lets all ride those fixed on the road type bikes. BETTER YET, come up to The Larz Anderson show and we get an early start to the good times. This conversation is always more fun in person. Especially over a cold one. There are some fun places in Boston and I for one intend to do whatever it takes to get my old bones to The Museum of Transportation and pow wow with the other cognoscenti; "those in the know" (gee that was reflexive. Hope it doesn't offend anyone). To all those who want a copy of the article, figure about three weeks. If you don't hear from me by then , please bug me.

And to all a good night,
John T.Pergolizzi
San Diego, Ca.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Doc Simont"
To: "John Pergolizzi"
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2003 6:05 PM
Subject: Re: Re[CR] Fixed Gear Braking

> John,
> I think you've misunderstood my post. I was specifically refering to the riding of a fixed gear on the road *without brakes*. I don't care if
> it's a track bike, fixed gear road bike (i.e., '50s British TT machines), or a converted multi-geared bike. If you're on public roads and
> interacting with pedestrians, traffic, etc. you (we) have a responsibility to do so safely.
> Do you feel that the addition of a brake on a bike intended for road use *detracts* from the benefits you listed? If a fixed gear bike has a
> brake on it do you think it should be removed before taking it out on the road?
> I will also apologize for the use of the phrase "(mis)use" as being somewhat inflammatory. I was simply trying to be concise, and would have
> used the term "misapplication" if I thought it was appropriate in this case. (Can you misapply a bicycle?)
> Doc Simont
> Cornwall, CT
> John Pergolizzi wrote:
> >
> > Sorry group, but this got sent before being finished. It is now fit for
> > reading:
> >
> > Doc Simont wrote (snip):
> > "I think the relevant point here is (cut)it's the (mis)use of a bike
> > designed for a
> > particular use in an inappropriate environment."
> >
> > Sorry Doc, but your wrong one this one. I believe Chuck's "heh,heh"
> > was tough in cheek sarcasm.
> > What youse guys are missing is the use of the fixed gear on the road as a
> > training device. Remember that fixed gear on the road was the "only" way
> > not
> > all that long ago.
> > The specific benefits of fixed gear on the road were first explained to
> > me by Sam Zeitlin (2ed to Disney, match sprints Nats in 67) Sam published
> > an article on the subject in Velonews in 1977. I will gladly send a copy
> > to
> > any list member after my return to N.Y. at the end of the month.
> > Basically, benefits include: developing muscle memory, development of
> > opposing muscle groups, learning how to get "the BIG picture" (just like
> > in
> > driver's ed). You Loose dependency on brakes because you ride more
> > conservatively and don't get your ass into "tight situations".
> > For sure, it takes allot of rider attention, getting use to, and is not
> > a training technique that would be used by a rider living in a super hilly
> > area. Don't try a 48x14(92inchs) to start. 48x18 (72) would be much more
> > appropriate. Even a little lower.
> > The idea is to develop "spin", which is really the ability to relax.
> > Since muscles can only so two things,contract or relax, you'll push down
> > allot harder unless the opposing muscle group relaxes pretty quickly. That
> > , plus power, is what sprinting is. Plus a little technique and tactics.
> > Heh,heh.
> > It is fun to ride the fixed gear road bike. You don't have to use it
> > only to "train". And ANY bike can be fitted with at least a rear brake
> > with
> > out degrading the originality or integrity of the frame( through the use of
> > a double brake hanger "plate" that sandwiches the seat stays at the brake
> > bridge area). Even among racers training on the road, it was common enough
> > to
> > see this home made unit installed.
> > Yes, you will have to "learn". Yes, their is intrinsic danger. Allot of
> > danger in using a track bike on the track too! But if applied with the use
> > of common sense, the design of the fixed gear road bike is appropriate for
> > use beyond the track.
> > Hope this sheds some light on the subject.
> >
> > Sincerely,
> > JohnT.Pergolizzi
> > Trackie and proud of it
> > La Jolla, Ca.
> > Brooklyn, New York