So could this be the year that the fixie finally comes back in style?
Well, I was perambulating downtown on New Year's Day and I suspect the answer may be "yes:"
Really feeling the clipless saddle on this bike:
Plus, with the stubby filth prophylactic it looks like a panting Doberman Pinscher, complete with docked tail and ears:
What's old is new is old is new is old is new again.
And in case you're wondering, the answer is "Yes, the Fixed Gear Gallery still exists:"
Ah, the Fixed Gear Gallery...where time stands still, where chains are pulled taut, and where people still ask "What gear ratio you running?" instead of "#whatpressureyourunning?"
As for me, it's been years since I've ridden a fixie, and reflecting on the whole phenomenon makes me recall my meteoric rise to fame and subsequent gradual decline. Indeed, the fixie craze was a heady time for me. First Bicycling came calling:
Then came the New York Times:
(Filed under "Fashion & Style," it should be noted.)
And finally an ill-conceived reveal in the Wall Street Journal followed by descending a well-trodden path to obscurity:
(We all hang together now.)
I'm washed up like a surgeon prepping to remove a gall bladder.
Though to my credit it should at least be noted that I was doing cyclocross before it was cool:
Indeed, anthropologists believe that cyclocross became trendy after three or four hipster bystanders inadvertently witnessed the above photo being taken in Brooklyn.
Yes, I make it look that good.
Anyway, now that we've gotten the backstory out of the way, let's pick up the narrative on Christmas Eve 2015, when it was a wildly improbably Seventy American Degrees™ here in New York City. So even though I had a big trip coming up and I hadn't packed yet, I did what any cyclist worth his or her chamois would do, which is go for a ride:
Relegating any concerns over the implications of this unusual weather to the bottom drawer of my brain, I instead chose to savor the sultry conditions. It was almost otherworldly, and there was even a preternatural mist enshrouding the banks of the Hudson:
It looked like the Palisades had pubes.
Indeed, it was so balmy that Sport was out on the town in his old-timey motorcar:
Check out those wheels:
Amusingly, a century later, Mavic would bring back that cutting-edge wagon wheel technology with the R-Sys:
I should also point out that the above photos were taken in a Westchester hamlet the New York Times dubbed "Hipsturbia" not too long ago, which I suppose means that as gentrifiers continue to decamp from Brooklyn for the suburbs they'll also trade in their bicycles for vintage automobiles.
This makes the Model T (or whatever kind of car that is, I'm sure someone will correct me) the fixie of the suburban set.
Alas, I had little time to savor the Palisades' downy white bush, for by the following day I was on the opposite coast, where paradoxically I was freezing my "pants yabbies" off:
Ordinarily I'd have taken a bike with me, but when you're flying across the country with seventeen (17) children you don't want to have to schlep a velocipede as well. In fact I very nearly reconciled the harrowing idea of not riding at all during my vacation, but then I remembered this bike:
In particular, it occurred to me I'd be in the immediate vicinity of the place after which the company who markets it was named. So I crossed my fingers, fired off a plaintive email, and wouldn't you know the suckers over at Marin agreed to lend me one of these:
Beyond Road - it's that feeling you get when you peel off the pavement and explore that piece of dusty doubletrack that has always intrigued you. The all-new Gestalt 3 is ready to take you there, with our premium Series 4 triple-butted aluminum frame with a 142x12mm rear thru-axle and Naild's innovative NavIt carbon fork with quick-release thru-axle. A SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain effectively transmits your power to the rear wheel through 11 speeds, while Rival hydraulic disc brakes instill confidence on the steepest descents in all conditions. Schwalbe G-ONE 30c, folding bead, tubeless-ready tires are mated to tubeless-ready rims for sublime performance on all surfaces. Integrated mounts make it easy to bolt on a rack and fenders for commuting or light touring, making the Gestalt 3 truly one of the most-versatile bikes in our lineup.
I'm quite familiar with the feeling I get when I "peel off the pavement and explore that piece of dusty doubletrack," because it's exactly what I do when I need a discreet place to urinate. So presumably "Beyond Road" is bike marketing speak for "Having To Pee."
In addition to setting me up with a bike, Chris at Marin was also kind enough to point me in the right direction in terms of riding loops, and for my first ride I set out on my own:
It's a good thing the Gestalt 3 is gravel-rated, because otherwise I'd have had to turn around almost immediately:
And obviously I'd never had attempted this stretch of road without the stopping power of hydrolic dick breaks:
As a bike dork it was a lot of fun riding a bike with all the "cool" stuff on it (disc brakes, single-ring drivetrain, etc.), and it was pretty much the ideal vacation bike in that I was ready for just about anything, though when you're in this part of the world I'm not sure it's possible to have a lousy time on any bike:
As the road undulated past redwoods and pastures and panoramic views of the sea I found myself exclaiming, "Oh, come on now!" with each dramatic change in the landcape:
Seriously, it's completely unfair that people get to live out there.
For my next ride I was accompanied by Chris from Marin, who took me up some pretty big hills:
And pointed out some local landmarks:
When you suck as badly as I do the landscape in these parts is as humbling as it is beautiful, and the Strava leaderboards for some of the climbs we rode are a veritable who's-who of Elite Fred-dom:
Including Mr. Excitement himself:
Yes, I'm talking of course about Letle Viride, the world's least dynamic doper:
Really, the only thing harder than dragging my slovenly self over those climbs was leaving it all behind and returning to New York City, and my final ride in cycling paradise was appropriately rainy--though fortunately there were clothes dryers at regular intervals:
Now I'm washed up and dried.