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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 02-22-06, 07:45 AM   #1
Frankie Fixed
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The Philosophy Thread

We all risk death or injury every time we get on the bike, mostly because of irresponsible motorists. I am 54 and commute about 100 miles a week on my pista. If my knees could stand it and the hills weren’t so screamingly steep around here, I would probably ride brakeless for the simple beauty of it. Very few of my peers still ride. Most of them have become too safety conscious to trade the risk for the pleasure. I think that’s backwards. I’ve had a good life—almost fifty years of biking. In my opinion it makes much more sense for me to be out on the road than for my 25 year-old son, who has most of his best years in front of him. He has much more to lose, not that I would ever discourage him. Most of you are in his age bracket. Do you think about this paradox? What about older riders? Do you see it this way?
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Old 02-22-06, 07:48 AM   #2
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I, have wondered if I will see it that way, from your perspective. It makes sense to me.
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Old 02-22-06, 08:09 AM   #3
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I see your point, but I think more along the lines of: if you don't take some risks in order to live life to the fullest you aren't really living, regardless of age. I'm not 25 or 55, I'm 35 with 2 young kids, so I guess there is reason enough to be cautious, but christ wouldn't it suck to always take the safe route, and die young of heart disease, or by some freak accident anyway? Would it suck more to lead a long boring life? I was married at 22, and my wife was convinced I would never see 30. I think she's more likely to meet an early end from worrying all the time than I am from risking my neck in traffic.

Hey did you know more people die from coconuts falling on their heads each year than die from shark attacks? Cool huh? I picked that tidbit up at the National Aquarium shark exhibit in Baltimore. So you know... watch out for those coconuts next time you go to the beach. Just when you thought it was safe to get OUT of the water nooneenooneenoonee thunK!
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Old 02-22-06, 08:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattface
Hey did you know more people die from coconuts falling on their heads each year than die from shark attacks? Cool huh? I picked that tidbit up at the National Aquarium shark exhibit in Baltimore. So you know... watch out for those coconuts next time you go to the beach. Just when you thought it was safe to get OUT of the water nooneenooneenoonee thunK!
that statistic is likely fabricated and wholly incorrect. see http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020719.html
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Old 02-22-06, 09:04 AM   #5
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We all risk death or injury every time we get out of the bed.

My dad always used to like to tell the story of my Aunt Mildred. She was always so paranoid about disease that she would bring her own silverware to restaurants, wash her hands constantly, take 3 showers a day and clean the house furiously. She was very careful about everything. One day on her way out to get the mail she was hit and killed by a trolley car.

Of course this Story was a joke but the moral of the story is live your life to the fullest. You never know when it’s going to happen but it sure is a waste of time worrying.
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Old 02-22-06, 09:21 AM   #6
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My co-worker is 62 and commutes. Basically commuted everyday to the same job for 30 years. His advice to me yesterday in a conversation was to stop trying to be cocky about biking and my body and do whatever it takes to keep going, but keep going. He and i were discussing gear ratios and knee pain. His advice was if you want to ride a big gear but your knee hurts then lower the damn gear.

He also told me he has never been hit by a car when i asked him. He did wreck and break a collar bone once.
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Old 02-22-06, 09:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shants
that statistic is likely fabricated and wholly incorrect. see http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020719.html
OK, but surely more people are injured by pigs in Papua New Guinea each year than are injured while riding fixed gear bicycles in Montpelier Vermont.
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Old 02-22-06, 10:01 AM   #8
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The guy I replaced at my messenger company was 74 (now 77, I think). He was slowing down a bit, but mainly he decided that he wanted to ride more for fun. I run into him on the road every couple of days, and he generally has panniers full of beer. Last fall he did a 14 day back country solo hike in the trinity alps...
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Old 02-22-06, 10:10 AM   #9
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If you go through life in constant fear of dying you aren't truly living. If biking makes you happy then by all measn do it, no matter what your age. There are risks in everything you do. You can take steps to minimize them. But dont stop living for fear of injury. This reminds me of the demise of my great uncle (this is NOT a joke)---he had 2 heartattacks, a stroke, and cancer----he survived all of them. After his last visit to the doctor he got the "all clear" for his cancer and decided to go have a drink to celebrate---unfortunately, he had too much to drink and upon leaving the tavern, he walked in front of a bus and was killed instantly. Talk about a paradox
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Old 02-22-06, 10:50 AM   #10
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I'd like to meet that guy, r-dub, and shake his hand. I played on a softball team when I was in my late 20's and we had this guy named Arthur who was in his 50s and played third base. I remember him diving for a line drive and coming down like a bag of Sakrete on the ground. He inspired us all and, despite his willingness to sacrifice his body, taught me a lot about some of the subtleties of the game.
Don't get me wrong, I rode with abandon at 21 and my current philosophy is just my rationalization for continuing to do so, but I do think it's interesting that most people seem to live life in reverse—wild when they are young and conservative as they age.
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Old 02-22-06, 10:54 AM   #11
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Wisdom comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment. Poor judgment comes from lack of experience.
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Old 02-22-06, 11:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
Wisdom comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment. Poor judgment comes from lack of experience.
so if one comes from the other, on down the chain; can i just shorten it down to say: wisdom comes from lack of experience???
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Old 02-22-06, 11:41 AM   #13
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I personally think that life would be meaningless without taking risks that I initiate.

Death will come for each of us, and not one of us knows when. Sometimes this ignorance is a source of anxiety. Prometheus thought of it as a gift.

Story goes that once upon a time human beings knew (for their entire lives) the exact time, place, and circumstances of their deaths. That knowledge (of the details of our mortality) was a yoke left to hang around our necks. The gods, being immortal, had themselves a good chuckle knowing that we walked through life worrying about our own deaths. So, among fire, time, and the other gifts Prometheus brought to us human beings was the gift of ignorance of the future. Now, he thought, we'd be able to go through life enjoying each day because we do not know when death will come for us.

I'm far more afraid of dying without having lived than of dying sooner rather than later. As it relates specifically to cycling, I wrote about this very topic once for the local newspaper -- http://www.nicomachus.net/weblog/archives/000069.html
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Old 02-22-06, 11:52 AM   #14
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I'm still not convinced that cycling is that much more death defying than driving. All of the statistics I see compare apples and oranges. True, in a collision with an SUV, I'm going to lose. OTOH, my bike isn't going to roll over and burst into flames.
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Old 02-22-06, 12:11 PM   #15
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Considering the tow leading deaths in the US are cancer and carcrashes, I think my athletic lifestyle and non-car-owning cover the bases.
I'll probably die in a more interesting way! Like in a blaze of gunfire!
When I lived in Houston I adamantely believed my death would be a driver hitting me. Now that I moved, I'm not so sure. And you know, it's less comforting to not know how you will die. I guess I'll just have to convince myself of how I'll die now.
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Old 02-22-06, 12:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by max-a-mill
so if one comes from the other, on down the chain; can i just shorten it down to say: wisdom comes from lack of experience???

quite the logical puzzle dontcha think?
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Old 02-22-06, 05:23 PM   #17
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"I drink and smoke, lot of you don't drink, don't smoke, some people here tonight they don't eat butter, no salt, no sugar no lard, cause they want to live, they give up that good stuff. Neck bones, pig tails. You gonna feel like a damn fool layin at the hospital dyin from nothing."
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Old 02-22-06, 05:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frankie Fixed
We all risk death or injury every time we get on the bike
A little melodramatic don't you think? We all risk death and injury everytime we leave the house. A car driver could make the same statement you just made...
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Old 02-22-06, 06:08 PM   #19
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to quote big night:

bite your teeth into the ass of life, and drag it to you.
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Old 02-22-06, 06:09 PM   #20
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I can't look at my life in terms of what estimated percentage of it is completed (ie. make decisions based on how many years are ahead of me).

Of course, I save money for the future, but other than that I look at it like: I'm here now. One day I won't be here now. Do stuff before that day. Doing stuff is fun.
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Old 02-22-06, 06:18 PM   #21
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Last March 29th I broke four ribs and punctured my lung in a fall on my bike.
It cost me a month of work and almost my job.

Since then, I have had people reach out of their car and hit me on the back of my head, spit on me, and otherwise make life interesting.

By choosing to ride a bike in traffic, we have made ourselves more vulnerable to accident and injury than the average motorist.

That said, I have every expectation I will live longer because I ride, and that I will enjoy life more than any motorist trapped in his or her trophy cage.

Furthermore, by riding in traffic, I have learned more about violence and non-violence, and the martial arts in general, than I have in the past thirty years in the dojo.
I make one of those jokes that reflects truth more than humor by referring to my bicycle riding as Bikido.

My health, my relationships, and my sanity have all improved, and continue to improve, because I ride thirty miles a day in traffic.
I love it.
My ride to work and back, on my fixed gear bike (as opposed to my geared, severe-weather Ice Bike) constitutes the best part of my day.
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Old 02-23-06, 05:03 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frankie Fixed
We all risk death or injury every time we get on the bike. Do you think about this paradox? What about older riders? Do you see it this way?
No. I refuse to let past experience or war stories from other places build fear in me to not ride. As I've aged, I've seen what happens. I only take it enough to caution my self from certain things, but never let it rule and thus rue the day that I am afraid to ride.

I intend to die moving. I may never be first in the race, the best on two wheels, but I do so intend to die a healthy man, doing what he loves.
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Old 02-23-06, 09:39 AM   #23
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"A little melodramatic don't you think?"

No, rvabiker, I think I'm just stating the facts to frame the debate. People die every day in cars, but as often as not it's because of the way they drive. I believe that, mile for mile, I am many times more likely to be injured or killed by one of the motorists who pull out in front of me, pass me too close and too fast, etc. than I am to be involved in a serious car crash.
That said, I feel the way Ken Cox does, that, if I end up living a shorter life, it will be a better life for having spent so much time out in the air riding. I'd say that the only thing I fear is an accident that would leave me unable to ride. But fear is mostly useless. Either you ride or you don't. No use accomadating your fear once you've made your decision.
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Old 02-23-06, 10:07 AM   #24
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I crashed my motorcycle once, and limped around for a month + while the big scab on my knee healed. I picked out bits of asphalt as they worked their way to the surface a year later. The experience DID change the way I rode. I stopped riding like an idiot, and never again wore jeans with gaping holes in the knees while riding. The wisdom I took was to take some safety precautions. Wear safe riding gear, and don't accelerate through blind turns where there might be gravel etc. That hard-won wisdom didn't effect the joy I take in riding.
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