Have you ever run over yourself on a bicycle? I’m here to tell you it can be done, because I did it. All it took was a fixed gear bike, a little inexperience, a dash of stress and some stop-and-go city traffic.
Here’s how it went down: I am waiting at a red light. My left foot is planted on the ground. My right foot is on the pedal at six o’clock. I decide to spin the pedal backwards with my right foot in order to get some power to push off with. Something we’ve all done many times.
But, of course, if you spin a fixed gear pedal backwards, the bike doesn’t stay still. It rolls backwards--over your stationary foot. Then your body sprawls in three directions at once as you try to remain upright. Naturally, there is a little knot of coeds, watching from across the street. Some even stop their cell phone conversations long enough to giggle.
Such delightful scenes have unfolded in various ways over the past couple of weeks as I’ve tried to learn how to ride my Redline 9-2-5 fixed gear bike. Put simply, I feel like a very aged dog trying to learn some new tricks on a bicycle. This isn’t the worst way for an old dog to spend his time.
About the bike: Basic info: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/redline-925.html
The Redline 9-2-5 is set up as a commuter, with fenders, low gearing (thank you), front and rear brakes (thank you, again) a rack, and mustache handlebars. Since I use the bike to zip around a college campus, riding to meetings or to run errands, these are all plusses. I especially like the handlebars. They keep one’s chest open and seem to allow me to suck in more oxygen as I wobble up hills. They also seem to give me a feeling of leverage and control.
I can’t say I’ve gotten fixie fever. I’m not crazy about riding my brakes on downhills. I have to do that because I simply can’t pedal fast enough. Mounting and dismounting are still something of an adventure in dorkland.
However, I do like the single speed aspect. The gearing gives me just enough of a challenge on the gently rolling hills where I ride. The fixed gear itself forces your body and mind to pay attention. And there is something to be said for the simplicity factor.
Bottom line: I satisfied my curiosity, and I’m glad. I’ll keep the bike, but at some point, I may flip the hub and turn it into a single-speed freewheel bike. I know this makes me a total dweeb, but as Popeye says, "I yam what I yam."