Several years ago an acquaintance, with whom I was in frequent contact, had suddenly "discovered" and fell in love with riding Track bikes. He was a broker living in lower Manhattan who had an office not far from the World Trade Center Towers (this was just before 9/11). He was genuinely enthusiastic about Track bikes and despite the rolling of eyes in his office, insisted on riding to work on one daily. And he would spend his weekends on longer rides, either in The City, or on more bike friendly roads in neighboring Connecticut ... just as I had done some 30+ years earlier.
By summer, 2001 he had accumulated no less than 22 vintage track bikes in his tiny NYC apartment, along with countless boxes of various related vintage components. He was not raised in an environment of bicycle mechanics or bike racers, but was now a complete convert - just as much as any current enthusiast might be, and would even spend much of his spare hours hanging around a friendly and sympathetic local bike shop which let him observe work being done on his bikes (while still wearing his Wall Street business suits) just so he could ask questions and learn how to later properly tinker with bikes himself.
So, I certainly must admit that there are sincere and devoted advocates of Fixed Gear riding, which transcend the current "Culture" - which we tend to view as homogenized groups of either ragged messengers or fashionable posh posers. We tend to regard the current popularity as a passing "Fad" - just as "Hippy Culture" was regarded by Middle America, when it had finally hit the popular pages of Life and Time magazines by the late 1960s. And, I confess that I too am typical of those who dismiss the current scene as insignificant and transitory.
It should be interesting to see how long this remains a significant and identifiable urban scene and how it will evolve (or dissolve), and what will remain of it 5 years from now. And I suspect there will always be a lesser group of enthusiasts, still keeping the faith after the now fashionable trappings fade away. In fact, I know of one old nutcase in the Cleveland area who's fixed gear enthusiasm had quietly preceded this "movement" by many years now, and I believe he still has no tattoos or piercings, and is even rumored to have a fair grasp of both the written and spoken English language. ~ Alas, so much for convenient stereotyping.
Well, with sunny weather and afternoon temperatures expected to be 55 degrees tomorrow (make that 13 degrees C. for European readers), I believe I'll ride my Gitane Piste, ... just so I'll not be overlooked or disregarded as I pass by the University. I guess I better pick up my marking pen to begin inking my faux tribal tattoos right away. Then, what to wear, what to wear...
BOB HANSON, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, USA
Garth Libre wrote:
The truth is most of the time when I ride with young guys who are part of the fixie culture I feel guilty. After all, their bikes were usually dumpster finds with a hundred bucks or so of improvements added. They don't buy the Phil Woods hubs or the Superbe Pro Track crankset because they can't afford them. One day I was riding with three guys who each ride more in one week than I do in a month. My collectable bike cost more than all three of their bikes put together. Who was the real cyclist? ... the guy with the NOS brake hoods or the guy with the stamped steel dropouts? I used to make 75 bucks a week and bike everywhere I went, now I make that in an hour and a half of overtime, which I usually refuse to do because it seems like too much of a hassle. Now I often take my bike by car to some nice place to ride because I can't risk getting hit (again) by a car. These guys are fearless, full of life, friendly and poor. They have everything I used to have and all the excitement of living on the edge. Isn't living on the edge the very definition of riding a skinny two wheeled bike anyway? Sometimes I feel like a member of some exclusive club of men who pontificate while fiddling with their pipes and wearing shawled smoking jackets. That's an ok feeling, but being young and invincible is an even better one. Bless you fixie crowd....
Garth Libre in Miami Fl USA
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