Of Touring and Track Bikes

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Tokyo to Osaka Teaser“, posted with vodpod

Further to my recent post about bicycle clubs being the next “thing” in urban cycling, here’s a video detailing what I think will be an important element of those clubs: cyclotouring.  Despite rumours that the fixed gear phase is passing, it’s not.  It’s simply morphing.  And this is nothing new, of course.  For months, maybe even AN ENTIRE YEAR, people have been touring on their fixed gears.  It might have begun as a way to get from one session spot to another (perhaps in a different town), but it has evolved into serious trips on serious bikes.  As you can tell from the above video, it’s lots of fun.  Especially when you’ve got a camera crew and a van to carry all your gear, which means you can ride your bike unencumbered by the panniers and water bottles (touring staples, along with beards and merino wool) that would make it simply impossible to get up a hill running a 46×17.  Yet, as fun as that video seems, I just don’t think it could ever beat this:

Beards are awesome.

Or this:

Black and white = total class.

I’m not one to begrudge fixed-gear riders their touring experience, but you simply can’t beat the feel of a proper fully-loaded touring bike (ideally ridden somewhere between 1972 and 1976, before I was born).  And, to be honest, touring isn’t something to be put on film and set to music.  It’s long days of pedalling and having good conversations, not an extended sprint competition or excuse to MASH all over the place.  Perhaps, as bicycle clubs — which will undoubtedly include at least a few fixed-gear devotees — increase in popularity, we could set some ground rules for their activities.  I propose the following: go ahead and tour on your fixed gear.  Film everything.  Create “web edits.” HOWEVER, all trailers for touring films must be set to the Fleet Foxes.

If you can make that badass, then more power to you.

In other track cycling news, you can expect something different from this blog in a few days.  Maybe next week.  I don’t want to give too much away, but enjoy this and let your imagination run wild:


2 Responses to “Of Touring and Track Bikes”

  1. 1 jamesmallon 30/01/2010 at 2:18 pm

    Ha! I used to do long rides in Japan. I love my fixed, but it’s the wrong bike for an 85% mountainous country. The reason those dudes rode Tokyo-Osaka is it’s one of the few rides close to flat. Might ride tours in Japan on a Sturmey S3X, but eggbeating downhill would be a terror.

    I put this comment on this website:

    “Their economy has been in a slump for a long time, so as long as you can live on noodles and rice, it costs little more than N. America, and less than Europe. They also have a full network of clean hostels and ‘cycling terminals’, which when you include dinner and breakfast, will cost no more than $50 US/day.

    But why should you go? There is all the culture, of course. Also, one of the world’s best domestic transportation systems. Japanese drivers often cycle to their train station, so they understand and give room to cyclists. Moreover, I have been helped out on so many occasions in Japan, cycling or hiking, that I have almost come to expect it. Japanese is not necessary, since everyone studies some and English signs are ubiquitous, but a little goes a long way for people to appreciate the effort.

    Then there is scenery. On no account cycle between the big cities or on the major populated plains, as they are just as crowded as you’d imagine. However, 85% of Japan is mountainous, and quite green and scenic. Bring a strong pair of legs, and leave your fixie at home. You can cycle much of the year there, so long as you choose your island carefully: look up the weather trends.

    Itineraries? How about ten days for the 88 temple pilgrimage on Shikoku? Two to three weeks to circle Hokkaido? Something similar for Kyushu? Maybe one week for Kyoto, Nara and the Kii peninsula?

    I’d suggest that a bike is the best way to get to know Japan, both urban and rural, and as a conversation piece with the Japanese. Do not, however, go if you are a recovering alcoholic (or not recovering) since drink is the main social lubricant, and applied copiously.”

  2. 2 youaretheengine 31/01/2010 at 4:35 pm

    I’d love to ride in Japan, and thanks for posting your comments about your experiences. I rented a bike when I visited Shanghai, and it was insane. You’ve definitely sold me on lining up a bike tour in Japan at some point in the near future (and I will use my touring bike).

    You’re absolutely right that there is no better way to experience a new country than on bicycle. That’s how I got to know Paris, and I can still run through my daily rides there in my head. That’s what it’s all about.

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