Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How do I pack 5 years into 2 weeks? The fixie story.

I, like any romantic, will remember this day for the rest of my life...

Just like any other mile stone in love that changes the person you are... (holding hands, first kiss, prom, nah! those thrills pale in comparison) I remember with remarkable clarity my first ride on a big wheel that was kept in grandpa's garage. I often think of the freedom of my first bike ride. And look back with fondness on my maiden single track spin through the woods.

Well boys, no locker room talk here... But suffice it to say, put another notch on the headboard, today I lost my innocence to a fixie.

Sure, I've known about fixies since pouring over bike porn (bike magazines, catalogs, websites and blogs) while coming of age as a cyclist. Always lusting over their simplicity and sexiness and the mysterious and confident people riding those heavenly machines. Always knowing that fixters are the pornstars of urban cyclists and that 'real' people ride bikes with gears and make love under the covers.

I would read with scepticism, the coming of the 'fixed gear apocalypse' on the BSNYC blog, and would drool over alley cat racers and messengers on documentaries I'd watched on Netflix. I caught glimpses of hipsters downtown flashing tats from under their wool nickers as they race from coffee shop to art gallery to book store with their messenger bag slung over their shoulder on their converted Pistas. It's the equivalent of pulling up to a corvette at a light as you sit there in the family minivan. :(

My attitude was always that while looking at fixies in magazines or on the internet is something every healthy, young, red-blooded, american cyclist does behind closed doors. It certainly isn't anything that a man who has fallen in love and committed to, a nice bike anyone would be proud to take home to dear sweet mother should be longing for.

Well, I've been dropping the "new bike" hint around the house since taking the owners manual off the handle bars of my bike a year and 9 months and over 4,200 miles ago to no avail. Besides, who else do you know that rides as much as I do, and only owns ONE bike? Lately the wife has decided that in 5 years we'd have just one child left in high school and that would be a fitting time for me to get a second bike. I've just been rolling my eyes. Well, now things seem far more urgent!

Not unlike a daughter with an over protective father who's told her to wait for marriage till after college and is finding herself with child during her sophomore year at university. I never meant for this to happen, but it has, and now I have to make some tough decisions that'll have an impact on the rest of my life. Ready or not, I've got fixie fever!

Here's how it happened... On this morning's commute to work I realized that when I shifted into 1st on the rearset the chain would skip off the sprocket, I removed the rear wheel to haul it to Ks. this weekend and figured I moved the derailleur out of alignment while hauling it in the back of the SUV. Throwing luggage on top of my bike probably wasn't wise... So, a quick adjustment at Bike Pedalers on the ride home should have me and my derailleur straightened out.

As always the guys at the shop take great care of me and my bike and rush it right in to fix it. Turns out, I had replaced the rear wheel slightly crooked and that's why it wasn't running straight. Do'h!

While waiting in the showroom I run across the above pictured Felt single speed / fixie. I admire it and the staff encourages me to take it for a test ride... Hmmm... Well, its not really cheating on my bike, just to take a quick test ride right? It's not love, just a physical thing anyway. I have needs, you know! So, while my bike is in the shop next door and can't see us, the Felt and I sneak out and onto the street.

I'm not going to tell you about what happened next since this is a family site and I keep everything rated "G". But you get the picture.

Soon enough we're back and my bike is none the wiser. The salesman explains all the virtues of a fixie, which went in one ear and out the other since I'd already rode her, er, ah, I mean, "it". And was just kind of basking in the glow and feeling very satisfied. And very sleepy. So, all I'm hearing is blah, blah, blah, and I obliged by nodding my head now and then, and smiling affectionately just like I do at home after we've finished making... Ahh, umm, you know...

Then suddenly something is said that gets my attention! He says that next Friday Bike Pedalers is having their grand opening at their new location near 14th and Pine Lake with a 25 percent off sale on accessories and 20 percent off all bikes!!! Dang! That's less than 2 weeks away! How do I pack 5 years into two weeks? If I bring home the Felt fixie without permission... Well, I don't even want to think about that.

So when I get back to the house I start negotiating like I'm at a hostage scene! She's not buying it, and if I don't step up my efforts I won't be buying it either! I explain the beauty of a bike without all the suspension, brakes, cables, etc. And her response? "you have a comfortable bike with gears so you can climb, go fast, and is easy to ride. Why would you want to have a bike with no gears?"

I have this sinking feeling like when you see a cop in your mirror and know you've been busted and have no excuse. When suddenly... Like the Lord himself gave me unearthly wisdom, I professed these words:

"tell me this my love... why would you take off a perfectly designed pair of running shoes that fit perfectly, have support in all the right places, and are comfortable? Just to walk bare footed on a warm sandy beach or across cool grass?"

(Brilliant! Huh?)

I go on to state the obvious: "it's because of the simplicity, purity, and oneness you feel with the environment your walking on. It's the exact same feeling as riding a fixie!"

I tell her that your in-tune with the road in a way you can never be with any other bike.

I'm feeling like I just threw the knock out punch and the win is mine! Then she comes to her feet and laughs something about, "I'd rather keep my shoes on!"

Oh! No! I'm seeing stars and hanging off the ropes. The reff is holding her hand up and the crowd is cheering and chanting her name. No! No! I want a rematch! It wasn't a fair fight! It was FIXED! (groan! bad joke huh?)

...4 years, 11 months, 29 days, 13 hours...

Today's commute to work and back including the detour to Bike Pedalers got me 20.19 miles.

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