My biggest regret this morning (besides not having just stayed in bed, where the "feels like" was "womb-ish") was using a bicycle equipped with brakes and fenders. (If you're reading this in England, "fenders" are the same as "mudguards." And if you're reading this in Australia, "fenders" are "wheel wallabys.") Sure, I was able to both stop and maintain a high degree of dryness, but I totally ruined my bike's "clean lines" and subtracted fistfuls of points from my already minimal "street cred":
However, I consoled myself with the knowledge that pad-to-rim braking is vastly better than tire-to-pavement braking when the street looks like this:
By the way, if you're wondering about conditions on the bridges, as of this morning the Manhattan Bridge was perfectly passable. In fact, it was salty and crunchy, like a great big fried chicken leg:
Visibility, on the other hand, was extremely poor. So, after a morning spent deliberating between the bike and the helicopter, I was pleased to discover I had made the right choice:
Despite the conditions, those with considerably more "street-cred" than I have still ran/rocked fenderless and brakeless bikes:
They were, however, running/rocking them very slowly. They weren't so much "slaying" as they were tapping lightly, like you might tap at a hard-boiled egg with a spoon. I don't know exactly how fast this rider was going, but the "feels like" was about 6 mph, or [mumblemumblemumble] kph.
But as nonplussed as I am by brakeless riding, there are times when it can be impressive. I recently received an email from Knog. At first, I was afraid to read it because I figured they were just asking for their lights back (I've been using them as nightlights so I can find my way to the bathroom), but it actually turned out to be a link to a highly impressive BMX trick called a "flair to footjam." I'd have thought a "flair to footjam" would simply involve mincing around in a dress for awhile and then stubbing your toe, but it actually involves going upside down:
And then stopping yourself with your foot:
Now that is hard.
Fresh off of this video, I decided to see what those other brakeless riders--the fixed-gear freestylers--have been doing lately. Are they finally giving the BMXers a brakeless run for their money? I did a quick footjam with my brakeless mouse and headed over to trackosaurusrex to check in on the latest videos. I found this. Basically, the rider wanders around slowly like a character in an 80s video game looking for bonus points. Here he rides up something and then kisses a railing with his front wheel:
Here he rides on a surface almost as banked as the tracks his bike was actually meant for:
Here he goes up in the air a tiny bit:
Well, he did plenty of stuff I probably couldn't do on a track bike, but nothing came close to the flair to footjam. Feeling let down, I continued searching for an impressive video. Finally, I found one: Fixed Gear Chicago. This may be my favorite fixed-gear video to date. This isn't because it features impressive tricks--it doesn't. No, I love this video because it's got character. First, it opens with one of the riders putting on his sneakers in his loft apartment:
Then, he enters his apartment building's vast bike room by means of a magnetic card key in his wallet. (I'd have expected a wallet chain, but I guess it would have to be inconveniently long.):
Once inside, he makes a beeline for his Bianchi San Jose with flat pedals and no foot retention...:
...or handlebar drops:
Then, his buddy "slays" some trackstands in front of some people on the sidewalk in a fancy-looking neighborhood. (In your face, yuppies!):
Then they take it to the streets:
I'm not sure if this video is sincere or a parody, but either way I greatly enjoyed it since it's in the true fixed-gear spirit: all flair, no footjams.