Archive for the 'fixed-gear' Category

Groundhogs are Unreliable: Or, Sure Signs Spring is Coming

Le sigh.

I suppose beggars can be choosers.

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Goldsprints Montreal: Finally

Go fast. Stay Still.

Just Wednesday I wrote about the Roller Racing coming to Montreal tomorrow.  Well, yesterday I found myself over on the Bikurious Blog and learned that GoldSprints (roller racing’s younger, tight-pants wearing, beer-drinking brother) is now in Montreal.  The first event was just over a week ago, so hopefully this will be a monthly event.  There’s lots of pictures and a few videos on the GoldSprint Montreal page.

And now, it’s the weekend.  Well, it will be in eight hours.  Hang in there, and enjoy la fin de semaine.  (Don’t forget about the Montreal Bike Show).

And remember: use your bicycle for good, not evil.

Babylon Wants Its Bike Back: Mile-a-Minute-Murphy

Draft? Draft.

The town of Babylon, Long Island, is willing to pay top dollar for the return of Mile-a-Minute Murphy’s famous bike.  Though it’s not from Hipster Ikea, it is a fixed gear. The bike belonged to Charles Minthorn Murphy, who became a national celebrity as the first cyclist to ride a mile in less than a minute.  He also claimed to have invented the concept of drafting, which seems not unlike Al Gore claiming to have invented the internet (when everyone knows it was Mark Zuckerburg).

NOBR AKES

Here’s the bike, for which Babylon is offering $20,000.  The Springfield Museums Association (Massachusetts) owns the bike, but it has been kept in storage for the past 3 years.  Babylon wants it back, and who can blame them?  In 1899, Murphy (who was a seasoned cyclist and had covered a mile in 37 seconds on rollers) boasted that there was not a train in the world that could drop him.  He theorized that he could ride in the slipstream of any vehicle and keep pace with it.

In a fit of old-timey insanity, a length of track was covered with boards so that both a train and cyclist could ride on it.  Dozens of journalists piled into the last car of an empty train (which had been modified somewhat to create a slipstream), and Murphy instructed the engineer to go as fast as he could.  On the first run, Murphy finished the mile in 1 minute 8 seconds, but that was because the conductor couldn’t get his train over 60 miles/hour.  A second attempt was necessary, and this time the engine’s regulator was removed.  This has Back to the Future III written all over it.

Covered tracks. Totally safe.

The second attempt proved challenging in other ways.  According to Murphy,

“Within five seconds the rate of speed was terrific; I was riding in a maelstrom of swirling dust, hot cinders, paper and other particles of matter. The whipsaw feeling through a veritable storm of fire became harder every second. I could feel myself getting weaker every second I saw ridicule, contempt, disgrace and a lifetime dream gone up in smoke. I saw the agonised faces, yelling, holding out stretched hands as if they would like to get hold of or assist me somehow.”

Near the 45 second mark, the train was starting to drop Murphy.  He dug in, closed the gap, and then crashed into the back of the train as it crossed the one mile marker (he was able to grab the guard rail and was pulled aboard by journalists). He had covered a mile in 57.8 seconds.  Like the winner in a track-stand competition, Murphy was overwhelmed by his success and the ensuing celebrations.

“I lay motionless, face down, on the platform. I was all in. I was half-carried to a cot at the end of the car; the roar of the train was challenged by hysterical yells. Grown men hugged and kissed each other. One man fainted and another went into hysterics, while I remained speechless on my back, ashen in colour and sore all over.”

Come on, Springfield Museums Association.  Do the right thing and send this piece of history home.

Prolly and Marinoni: Sunday Treat

Canadian Classic

It’s Sunday, which means that I should be watching NBA games or pretending to read.  I am, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to repost something from Prolly. He’s got a few pictures of a before/after paint job on a Marinoni Track, and it looks GOOD:

Chrome? Chrome.

If you stumble across an older Marinoni frame, jump at it.  They’re fairly ubiquitous in Montreal (obviously), and I’m thinking of tracking one down for my next build.

Anyway, it’s great to know that these frames get their due.  I’m hoping that over the next few months, more attention will fall on Canadian cycling and those who support it (there are TWO ProTour races coming our way, don’t forget).  Bad ass Marinoni track bikes are a good start.  Hopefully the powers that be will be able to use the attention that comes with hosting professional races to encourage increased urban riding.  If we could only convince Louis Garneau to drop their Rock Racking sponsorship

Hitler’s Fixie: Another one of those Downfall spoofs

Yes, it’s been done to death.  Really, I think the academic one is the best.  But, this is pretty funny.  And it will be on all the blogs in a matter of minutes (I found it on Cycling WMD).

For real now, happy weekend.

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:

The Next Hip Thing: Bicycle Clubs

Old-timey fun.

The NYT Spokes section has published a nice history of New York bicycle clubs.  Wheelmen (and women) formed groups to promote cycling, make friends, and encourage social interaction (an especially important element for new immigrants).  Clubs were organized around regions, or ethnicity, or anything else.  They helped train racers, or simply organized leisurely sojourns.  Today, clubs retain many of these elements.

I’ve ridden with a club once.  I was living in Aix-en-Provence, and decided to head out with the local club for one of their weekly Sunday morning rides.  This was my first club run, and I had no idea what to expect.  When I showed up and saw everyone in spandex kits, I got worried.  I learned a lot that day: don’t bring a bag, don’t bring your U-lock, don’t wear cotton shirts, bring power bars.  The ride wasn’t painfully long (95km), but I was not used to riding as part of a team.  I sucked.  I hit the wall.  I dragged my ass back into town a good 45 minutes after everyone else.  I learned my lesson.

Or did I? Perhaps that club just wasn’t for me.  It was a traditional roadie club.  But now, new options are presenting themselves.  Here’s why I think Bike Clubs are the next big thing in urban cycling:

  • everyone loves hanging out with friends.  Add bikes and throw an element of exclusivity into the mix, and you can’t go wrong.
  • urban riders (fixed-gear or not) are slowly chipping away at the roadie domain.  Riding track bikes long distances is, apparently, film-worthy.  Full kit is acceptable, so long as it’s stylish.  However, I suspect that urban bike clubs will wear normal clothes and focus more on pub-crawls than centuries.
  • Clubs, if done right, are pretty much a party on wheels.  Nobody demonstrates this better than The Fucking Bike Club, and I propose all new clubs use the FBC as a template.
  • You can establish a club based on whatever criteria you’d like: gay, academic, indie rock, grrrl power, etc.  You can even start beefs with other clubs, which would be hilarious.
  • finally, Clubs require a witty name, a website, and some kind of uniform.  This demands the skills of an English major, web editor, graphic designer, and silkscreen specialist.  There, you just employed at least half of your club.

This is my prediction for 2010.  Clubs will be the new “thing” among urban riders.  They might be called “gangs,” because urban riders simply cannot use words un-ironically anymore.  See? I just wrote un-ironic instead of sincere. So, go find some friends and do something awesome.