Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Photo From The Future?

Nope. It was taken recently in Erlangen, Germany but this is what the whole world will look like when the oil runs out. Actually, much of Europe already looks like this, North America is just way behind.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The First Seven Days

Today, I've asked my wife to guest blog. Well, actually, she told me she was going to guest blog, and I said, "yes dear!"

My preferred ride until...I saw the light!

For years my husband talked about building himself a fixie. When he finally did, I thought he was nuts. I mean, who wants to pedal all the time? I wasn’t the only one who thought he was crazy either. In the town we used to live in, the old man running a repair shop just shook his head in wonder, and in our new town, the owner of the LBS pretty much kicked him out when he asked questions about streamlining his fixie.

All summer I have been without a bike. My old 1970s Schwinn, which is too small for my long legs, was fine in the flatlands, but here in hilly country I only rode it once before I said, “Let’s sell it.” Now summer is not the time to be without a bike, but without funds, I was stuck. After much debating and measuring, my husband decided to fix up one of his many, many bikes for me. By fixing it up, I mean changing out the handlebars to upright ones, with God forbid, a brake (which apparently, based on his reaction, is some sort of sacrilege).

Imagine his horror when I declined the use of his spare bruise-inducing Brooks saddle that feels like it’s made of cold hard steel. I know, I know…plenty of y’all use them and they form to your butt and all that, but I still chose the softer, lower-end Brooks that he picked up for fifty cents at the recycle centre, much to his chagrin. Just wait until I make him add the basket, light, fenders, and rack so I can carry groceries! He won’t want to be seen with me. And don’t even get him started on the helmet issue.

But I digress. This guest blog is supposed to be about my first week as a fixie rider, and yes, might I add convert. It’s true. I now see the beauty of the fixie. It was remarkably easy to catch on to the no brakes thing and every time we come home after a ride, I say, “I didn’t use the brakes at all” or “I only had to use them on that one hill.” I find that I’ve ridden around 2-5 miles per day, every day, and that I, like my husband, seem to be fabricating reasons to ride to the Village, just to get one more ride in before dark.

I have only sustained one injury this week, a pretty nasty whack to the back of my right calf, but considering I’ve suffered the same injury on a regular bike (pedal bashing into me as I dismounted in a sort of dicey situation due to road repair and pavement bumps), I am not blaming this on the fact that my cool new bike is a fixie.

The only downside that I can see to riding this bike is that when we go out for an evening ride, it’s hard to stay together because my bike is in a much lower (thank God!) gear than my husband’s. Also, he has no brakes, which is why this was his injury. Oh, wait, it didn’t have anything to do with brakes. He was trying to take a picture while riding. I can honestly say that while he has made me a fixie lover, I highly doubt you will see any photos that I’ve taken while riding because I am way too much into the zen of pedaling (all the time!) to be bothered with photos.

Marriage is about compromise (yes, I actually do like the upright handlebars and I don't think they look geeky!), but it’s also about making your spouse happy when you can. My husband has made me happy with this bike, and the day we rode into the Village on our his-and-her fixies, the pride shone in his eyes. Not to mention when a tourist checked me out and he was looking not in the usual place, but at my very cool fixed gear bike, I thought my husband’s smile would split his face.

I'm converted!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Even before I gave the RB-2 to my wife, the Apollo ($6 Fix) had become my favourite ride despite it's homely appearance. I've got the cockpit dialed in just so and the fit and feel are perfect. But I'm running 52/18 and no brake so I've mostly used it for errands and short pleasure rides. Yesterday I decided to see what it would be like to make the 22 mile trip around the island so I filled a water bottle and off I went. It was a perfect BC summer day, warm but not sweltering and blue sky overhead. About 3/4 of the way round I stopped for a photo op and while I was relaxing a bit, it occurred to me that riding a brakeless fixed gear bicycle with a tall gear in rolling terrain is a lot like marriage: It's all about compromise. A wise man chooses his battles carefully and doesn't sweat the small stuff. The correlation is that there are some hills too steep to climb with a 78 gear-inch drivetrain and others too steep to descend safely without a brake. So I just get off and walk when need be. I only had to do that twice yesterday, once down and once up. You might notice in the photo that I wasn't carrying a tool kit. I did have a multitool in my pocket but since I've never flatted where we live, I don't bother with a spare tube/tire/pump. Believe it or not, there is virtually no road debris. I have seen broken glass on the pavement only once since moving here 10 months ago. Hope I'm not jinxing myself...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Masi Pista

Scan from an old Masi catalogue

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Retro Fix

Here's a beautiful 1970's Austro-Daimler conversion that belongs to a fellow in the Retrogrouch group on Flickr. Who says you have to have derailleurs to go randonneuring?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

City Fix

We don't live in the city but this is the style of ride my wife Joelle wanted. Since a Batavus Old Dutch wasn't going to happen for us anytime soon, I decided to make some changes to the Bridgestone fixie conversion and give it to her. She's almost as tall as me so I just had to lower the seatpost a couple of inches and install the components of her choosing (padded saddle and upright handlebars). She loves it and I'm tickled pink that my baby has my old bike.

Here's the parts breakdown:

Frame: 62cm Bridgestone RB-2
Bottom Bracket: Shimano (OEM)
Crank: Sugino (OEM)
Chainring: Sugino 46t
Cog: Surly 17t
Chain: 1/8 inch generic
Pedals: MKS Touring
Rims: Ritchey Vantage Comp (OEM)
Tires: Specialized Armadillo
Rear Hub: White Industries ENO
Front Hub: Shimano Exage (OEM)
Seatpost: American Classic
Saddle: Avocet (OEM)
Stem: Nitto Technomic
Handlebars: Nitto North Road
Grips: generic
Brake Lever: Tektro
Brake: Shimano Exage (OEM)
Bottle Cage: King stainless steel

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

City Bike

I would love to find something like this for my wife. The Electra Amsterdam is OK but just a little too slick. A Batavus Old Dutch would do nicely...