Emails brighten my days... some-days. I will be honest, like everyone in the world I receive too many junk emails from spam bots, people looking to make a quick buck and people asking me to teach them everything there is to know about a fixed gear bike - to the latter I say take some personal initiative and use the magic of google there are lots of resources out there.
However, every so often I get a genuine request that I can quickly help out, today is one such day (I am a sucker for lines like "your excellent wisdom").
I think the Dude's secret admirer said it best best when he pronounced that, "Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you." Well today, I was the all-you-can-eat buffet.
After my night in Bonchester Bridge, I awoke to find myself coming down with a cold. Not surprising considering the mileage I had been riding in the pouring rain despicable rain. However, it looked like the sun was breaking and I was only 60 miles outside Edinburgh, then if I wanted wimp out I could jump on the train and get into St. Andrews for my first conference with time to spare.
Plan sounds feasible, right? After all what could go wrong?
As was quickly becoming the norm, the day started with rain, but unlike the previous day this didn't detract from the riding. However, before I could get into the epic riding, I had a small problem to solve.
When you only pack 10.5lbs for a trip, you make sacrifices. In my case, I made a bit of a blunder sacrificing proper rain gear. I got by fine on the first day, but the second day I got hammered. I was hoping day 2 was a bit of an anomaly, but I also new I couldn't get chilled like that again, so I was out with credit card in hand looking to buy a proper rain jacket. Luckily for me (I have weird luck I tell you) Keswick is an outdoor destination, and there were all sorts of 1/2 off sales. As I plunked down the 50 pounds, I told myself it was worth the money if it either a) protected me from the rain, or b) brought sunshine. Actually, especially b).
As I bought the jacket I then realized I had another problem with the 10.5 lbs pack. I had no extra room!
Day two started off normal enough for jolly old England, it was raining. However, before I got on the road I had to solve a small dilemma, there are very steep descents in these parts and I had no front brakes left. When I left Vancouver, my front brakes were already going, but I figured it being summer and the fact I don't use my brakes that much should mean I will be fine for my trip. Nope.
Instead I was on a quest to find brake pads in a tiny town in the Yorkshire Dales. Somehow, some way, I was able I tracked down this odd, somewhat antisocial fellow, who lived in a trailer in one of the camp sites who had decided a few years back to start some sort of bike part import business. The business ultimately failed, but he still had some parts around. As luck would have it had a set of brake pads left that fit my bike!
Next, maybe my luck would extend to the weather? Nope
After arriving in London, assembling my bike I decided it was time to get moving. Originally I had planned to ride from London to St. Andrews to attend my first conference, but circumstances arose such that I had to leave Canada about 4 days later than I had originally intended. This would give me 4 days to ride some 800 miles on a fixed gear. Not likely.
Now given some good training and weather (hmm... foreshadowing?) I might be able to do a single 200 mile day on its own, but four such days back to back. That is so wrong I was almost tempted. Then some sort form of sanity took over as I realized that the Tour doesn't even do that large a mileage. At most I believe they cover 150 miles (240 km) in a day, plus they are not hauling gear, they are on bikes that have more than one gear, and they have support riders and cars offering help.
Now I have thoroughly justified being a slack ass I decided to make it easy on myself and take the train from London to York the evening prior. After which I set out on an epic 100 mile day with rain, wind and 17% grade climbs.
So my plan was simply, pack uber light and make my way from London to St. Andrews Scotland in 4 days on my fixed gear bike. The theme of this trip is about simplicity in a needlessly complex world. Hence why I decided to take only 10.5lbs (including backpack weight) for a month journey, to tour on a bike with only one gear and why the bike could have next to nothing attached to it.
You see, too often we are fooled by modern society into believing we need to buy, possess, and carry far to much crap. Not only is it a bother, but I think this ethos detracts from the quality of life. For me, I wanted to see how much I could do with the minimal amount of gear possible.
So that in mind I knew I could not start the trip (i.e. getting to the airport) without following that same ethos and here is the rub. Transporting a bike overseas can be difficult. You need to pack it down, put it in some sort of box and transport yourself and your bike-box down to the airport.
Clearly this will not do.
To me fixed gear bikes are not about fashion, but about DIYODW, pain, and of course that funny zen simplisity that everyone likes to rave on and on about. (DIYODW = Doing It Your Own Dam Way). I am sure many a fashionable hipster will tilt his/her head in wonderment, and to that I say,
Okay now that my motivation is clearly laid out, lets get on to my next stupid adventure. If you have been reading this here mess of a blog for the past few years then you know that I have a penchant for doing things that most people will shake their head at, however, its been a while since I have been on any truly insane adventures on my fixed gear bike. Hmmm, clearly I need to rectify the situation.
This video comes courtesy of GZ
Watch and learn
I don't know, maybe you live in a cave. If so you are livin' it so you don't need me to tell you that today is Earth Day. For the rest of you (myself included) today is a day where we should reflect on how we are a bunch of pricks to dear old mom. Really, do we need any of those gawd forsaken cell phones, TV's, MP3 players, cars, new cloths or any of those modern "essentials." Hell do any of use really need a new bike? In my case yes, but the rest of you should do without :-P
So turn OFF your computer, put down your wallet, and go ride your bike to someplace nice and reflect on the fact you are a prick to Mom.
So I recieved this email the other day on whether or not to build your own bike
Subject:[Feedback] fixie beginner
Date: April 17, 2008 5:12:58 PM MDT (CA)
Hey, I've been riding for a pretty long time, having braved Boston, NYC and Dublin (and now SF). I'm looking to expand into the fixie world and wondering what you would suggest for someone beginning. Get a new one? Convert a vintage bike? Plead with the local store to help me? I obv know Sheldon for if I were to do the deed myself, just wondering if that's
the route you would suggest.
Any info would be appreciated