Friday, December 28, 2007

Annie Londonderry's Excellent Adventure

I found a link to this book on the Fixed Gear Gallery website and picked up a copy at Powell's Books in Portland. Annie was quite a character: Mother of three, self-created celebrity, 19th century feminist and arguably the first woman to circumnavigate the earth on a bicycle. OK, she took a few trains and ships along the way but she did in fact pedal over 10,000 miles on a bicycle. Alone. In 1894. I guess what makes her blog-worthy is the fact that her bike was remarkably similar to the one I rode this afternoon: A fixed gear machine with diamond frame, leather saddle and pneumatic tires. Unlike mine, hers had wooden rims and no brake. Although she had a pretty casual relationship with the truth when reporting her adventures, hers is an inspiring story if only for the sheer physical accomplishment. I found myself thinking of her earlier today as I ground out a hill in 46/17 and I suspect that won't be the last time she pays a visit to my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Just back from a nice long post-Christmas ride. It's a warm, sunny day (4 Celsius, 39 Fahrenheit) with no wind. Very nice after several days of rain. But less than a mile from the house, my chain popped off. The good news is it didn't break and I didn't crash. I just braked to a stop and put it back on the cog and chainring and carried on. I have no idea how or why it happened though. There's no slack in the chain and I wasn't hammering so...who knows?

One of the reasons for riding fixed is the workout and did I ever get one today! My thighs are singing but it's a good thing. I am running 46/17 which makes me work pretty hard on the hills but that's the idea. By spring, I should be a lot stronger. Started out with 50/17 because I happened to have a 50 tooth chainring laying around but no way I could pull that. 46/17 seems about right though there are some hills around here that force a dismount. Middle age has no pride.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I live in the Pacific Northwest and this time of year it rains. A lot. Most of my neighbours have fenders but none of them are riding fixed gear road bikes. A big part of the appeal of a fixie is the clean, minimalist look of the machine and I just can't see me putting fenders on the Motobecane. I have seen some very nice looking wooden ones made by small shops in the States but still, I don't think a set is in my future. I'll just wear my GoreTex and pedal through the monsoons like I've always done.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crank Aesthetics

While I'm waiting for parts in the mail, just a short post about one I already have, the crank. It's the stock one (with a new 46 tooth chainring) and I love it. Why did the all the major component manufacturers stop making those beautiful fluted crank spiders? They are all smooth and convex now, Shimano, Campagnolo, Sugino, Miche, all of them and they are not as pretty. At least not to my eye. To me, it's like the difference between a lugged steel frame and one with TIG welded joints. TIG welds aren't really ugly, but lugs are much easier on the eye.

About the photo: The crud on the metal is just road gunk. I rode in the rain yesterday and the bike doesn't have fenders. I cleaned it up some but obviously missed a few spots. The camera doesn't lie.

My Motobecane

Here is the headbadge of my first fixed gear project bike, a 70's Motobecane Grand Touring that came to me in trade for some guitar lessons. There will be more pictures soon and also an album on Flickr eventually. Still awaiting a few more parts to complete the build and when they've arrived, I'll post more details. The bike is a work in progress but having logged quite a few miles since I got her up and running, I am more smitten with each passing day. So much so that I've decided to up the ante component-wise including a Brooks B-17 Champion saddle in honey and a nice NOS Phillipe stem. Stay tuned!