This weekend I went on two social rides, Friday night the Midnight Ridazz Dia de Los Muertos ride (500+ people) and Saturday night the Spoke(n) Art ride for Gallery Night in North-East LA. It has been awhile since I’ve been around for these and it got me stoked again on what we would call local bike culture. Saw a lot of fixed gears and it reminded me that I should post some of these photos from France.
Are fixed gears the coolest thing ever or an annoying trend? Good for the city only or for long-distance rides as well? In skateboarding or BMX usually you get really excited about something new and then slightly annoyed by the people who find it after you. Is it the same for fixed gears? Like many cities these days Los Angeles has its ‘scene’ (does that word make you cringe?) that no doubt includes the core groups (I’ve been riding fixed for 5 years!), the hipsters (Is this NJS certified?), the converts (I have 10 bikes and I just converted an old Colnago to fixed), and those who just enjoy riding a simple bike. Many blogs and articles have dissected this further than I care to (Bike Snob NYC). I ride a track bike for commuting and in the city for two main reasons: It is different than my other bikes and requires different riding skills and it is low maintenance. No brakes rubbing, shifters needing adjusting, cables fraying. Just the most basic bicycle possible.
But what about for long distance? When we rode the Furnace Creek 508 on a fixed gear team someone said to us, ‘Sorry this race isn’t hard enough for you to do on road bikes.’ And maybe some of those who ride fixed are self-handicapping: Yeah, well I did it on fixed gear!! We rode it fixed cause we thought it would be fun to have a team and to use our everyday bikes. I have no interest in riding fixed over really long distances, but many people do. I give them the benefit of the doubt that they just love riding fixed for what the bike offers them, the same way others choose to ride certain bikes, components, races, etc.
At Paris-Brest-Paris I tried to speak with as many fixed gear riders as possible and also shoot photos when I could. Photos and story at my original post for this ride.