I refitted the CCM last night and tore off the (heavy) coaster equipped 27 inch wheels and fitted my trusty old fixed wheels which I built up 5 years ago.
These are some old Normandy Weinmann wheels that came off a Raleigh I salvaged and are fitted with a suicide hub... have put at least 10,000 miles on these wheels while they were on my beloved Peugeot and they have never let me down and are still as smooth as silk.
The CCM was headed for the dumpster 5 years ago and I saved the frame and built up a retro path bike... it is really a jalopy that cost me next to nothing.
Over the past year I have refitted a number of my fixed gear bikes and re-geared them because of health issues but have kept three fixed gear / single speed bikes as sometimes the body cooperates and there really is nothing like riding fixed.
After a long winter of slogging through the snow I had forgotten how much I love this feeling... this fusion of man and machine spinning effortlessly through the night... the sense of almost flying.
And it was not my usual ride.
Riding home tonight my main route home was blocked and I had to take a long detour through the river valley and met up with some friends who were riding their nicely equipped and well geared touring bikes. One friend who rides SS on this route said this was going to be easy for them but not so easy for me... being that I was riding a fixed gear.
I have heard this before... "you won't be able to climb that hill on one gear..." or "that hill will kill you..."
The hill is only a km long, takes you up 800 feet and has some nice little grades and tops out to 22% right at the top... it is like the cherry on top of a sundae.
When we hit the hill I told my friend that I was passing on his left and went into the corner hard and started climbing out of the saddle as it gets steep as soon as you make the turn.
I've climbed this hill a thousand times... it has gotten harder over the past few years and I have avoided riding fixed in the river valley because of the grades.
But not tonight.
Hammer... hammer... and hammer some more until you reach the first break where the climb gets a little more gentle and then spin up the legs and catch your breath for that last section that many cyclists cannot ride up with any gearing.
Spin faster and faster and up your breathing to get as much O2 as you can...feel your heart hammering as you wind things up... feel the hum of the wheels... find your rythym... and then you make that hill your personal biatch.
Hit the last climb at top speed but it goes up so quickly you have to get up off the saddle and lay into things hard... and think something is going to bend or break... but it won't be you.
There will be no walk of shame.
Legs feel like fire and you think that you are going to hack up a lung and then you are at the top... soaked in sweat... muscles screaming.
But it feels so friggen' good... and when you look back down the hill you wonder where the hell your friends went as you can't even see their headlights and wonder if they turned off.
Then you see their lights through the trees and by the time they crest the hill you have caught your breath and then we continued the ride home at a leisurely pace. My SS riding friend asked what gearing I was running... 69.
After my friends peeled off I kicked it up again and hammered it for the last 4 km to get me home and a few km from home it started to rain which felt great... because it was warm and it wasn't more god damned snow.
The bike is now parked after a day of riding and I am having a cold one and all I want to do is go back out there and climb more hills because you really are never more alive when you feel like you are going to die.