Tuesday, September 19, 2006

single speeds and fixed gears
i love this time of year, as september segues into october . . .
the rides get a bit shorter, they take forays onto gravel,
and folks get a bit more adventurous on their bikes than they
would dare to from april to august.
lights appear, fenders go on, people ride at night, and
--and this is what excites me most--
people take routes ignored during the rest of the year!
DAMN! what's that shit all about?
the beauty of bicycling is the speed and variety that this form of
getting around affords. you can ride on highways, streets;
you can race through alleys, whatever.
a kid [regardless of age] can pretty much go wherever
he or she damned well pleases.
and that SHOULD be a large part of why we all ride bikes.
[if it ISN'T, then, seriously, look inside yourself.]
but one of the things--is it a trend?--happening these days
that really makes me happy is the resurgence of
single speed or fixed-gear bikes.
the kind of bikes most of us
[at least those of us my age or so]
learned to ride.
simple bikes, with or without fenders; "bombers" we called them.
you could go out and ride fearlessly on those bombers.
you would go out so far that you risked being
late for dinner. but it didn't matter:
you were out riding your bike, with friends, alone
it didn't matter.
you were out exploring your environment.
discovering new roads, exploring dead ends,
dirt roads [they didn't call them "b" roads then].
you discovered the young farmers who
cultivated marijuana;
you knew where all the ditch weed was, too.
i didn't have a car until i was married
and separating for the first time.
i didn't need too: i had a bike.
by the time i bought a car [1971 saab 96]
i'd had six bikes.
still have my sixth one,
a 1974 motobecane "le champion"
[my first encounter with campagnolo]
it was my first race bike,
and before that, my first ragbrai bike.
when i retired it from racing, it became my first cyclocross bike.
what's the moral of this sermonette?
if you get a bike, enjoy the hell out of it.
try doing different things with it
and try doing them in different places.
[read: change the tuesday night world's route!]
it will be good for you, your friends, and your bikes.
[the bike pictured above is an ira ryan fixed gear.
learn more at iraryanbikes.com]

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