So, at the ripe old age of 55 I have just acquired my first fixie. A Kona paddy wagon - beautiful little bike, and so much fun I'm already wondering what took me so long. One or two interesting moments with my knees as I've tried to coast into sharp turns, but nothing terminal. Going to have to go back to school to learn about descending, though. For the present I resemble a demented hamster on acid.
Thanks for the welcome, guys. I'll try not to come up with too many newbie questions - I'm an experienced cyclist (with gears, anyway) and I'm well aware that the answer to most questions is the same as to how to get to Carnegie Hall; so I'll be practising. But be kind to an old dog who's trying to learn some new tricks. If you were starting again, is there a single routine you'd identify as being the most useful to improve your bike handling skills on a fixie? Learning to skip stop, practising track stands, controlling the speed of a descent (it's hilly here, so the standard 42:16 on my Paddy Wagon is about right for going up, but pretty fearsome coming down!), or something else?
Definitely learning to spin down hill is probably the most important; also, go slow through tight corners as you already know that you might strike your pedal and end in horror.
Skip stops are helpful when you need to slow down, but of course a brake would be perfect for it.
Just have fun with it. A veteran rider like you shouldn't have too much trouble coping with it.
Believe it or not, I'd say learn to track stand right after you figure out hills. It won't take long. Practice until you can comfortably do seated track stands. Once you have that, taking your hands off the bars is all mental. Just do it and it will work. The bike will then be part of you. After that, when you come to a stop light on a gentle uphill, pretend like you just have to scratch your back but don't want to pull out of your clips to do it. When you put your hands back on the bar, do so slowly. Lower yourself down like it really doesn't matter to you. You just finished scratching your back. It will feel great.
Thanks, guys. I went for a twenty mile ride on the new toy today. It was interesting. In the first place, barely being to haul my carcass over a modest hill that I dance up on my road bike taught me that I need to HTFU (I'm quickly acquiring the local vocabulary, see?). Coming down is much more exciting, though. I'm beginning to figure out how to restrain* the pedals - and as Vixtor pointed out, a brake is really good for slowing down - so the hamster on acid experience is already beginning to recede. But I'm chickening out on some of the steeper sections because even though I know in my head that I can spin fast enough, there's a little voice inside me that screams "YOU CRAZY B#ST#RD, THIS BIKE IS OUT TO KILL YOU".
I'm pretty sure I'll get there. But it's interesting, as I say. I haven't had this much to learn about riding a bike since I was about 12.
* I tried to write r#tard here, because that's the word we'd use in British English. But the forum won't let me, presumably because it's a derogatory term in the US? Cultural differences are always fascinating....
Last edited by chasm54; 06-03-10 at 01:09 PM.
Reason: cultural differences