Ride a bike, share your experience and love. When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart. ~Diane Ackerman

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Skid Marks - Recent Developments

Riding fixed gear is no easy task, sure its a throw back from the days of old, the first type of bicycle. I picture some dude in knickers, sports jacket and handlebar mustache riding his fixed gear on some back country road.

Fast forward to 2009 FG bikes are all the rage so being the enthusiast that I am I had to build one. Well I did and riding has been a blast and learning experience.

First, just riding a bike with NO freewheel was something to adjust to. My natural inclination is to stop pedaling when at the apex of a hill or "coast" on the down hill. Even in a turn, you don't think about it but you really stop pedaling, re-adjusting your pedal/crank in perspective to the ground to avoid pedal strike. I was quickly reminded I can't do these things on a fixed gear. With a fixed gear you have no choice but keep pedaling, period.

The Stop: Stopping can be tricky. I initially built the Green Hornet with no brakes but quickly axed that idea when cruising around my block. Stopping quickly is impossible. Sure you can romanticize on the idea of being one with your bike, the beauty of a simple machine. The oneness of human and bike maybe a romantic notion but without brakes it unsafe. I don't know how those crazy messengers barrel through the streets of New York, weaving through crowded boulevards and in and out of traffic without brakes. No way no how is that for me. I have neither the strength nor the skills to stop on a dime without a brake.

The bottom line, I installed a front brake. The front brake is what actually slows you down and I can apply enough back pressure to the cranks to stop sufficiently. I have also been practicing my skid. It took me a while to figure this one out but thanks to Sheldon Brown (Google him, he knows everything about bicycles), clipless pedals and determination, I finally learned how to skid on a fixed gear bike. The trick is to pull up on one pedal while applying mad amounts of downward force on the opposite. This function will effectively "skip" the rear wheel and if your are going fast enough you'll break into a skid.

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