Fixie Russian Roulette

Note: I wrote this back in 2009 and have not ridden my fixed gear bike much on group rides recently, but nonetheless it also applies to riding a geared bike in a group with many stronger riders. Often, it’s not a question of if I will pop, but when…


Question: When is riding a Fixie like playing Russian Roulette?
Answer: When you ride it for the Saturday D’ville group ride.

Yesterday after ACE asked about who was riding today, there were a few exchanges about the possible pace for the D’ville ride. I think I proposed “sane and steady”, whatever that means, but Ian responded correctly with “Give it up, old habits die hard”. Having been riding my fixie a bit, I think sure, I’m ready to give it a try, especially if others are doing the same (Ian, Doug, Greg et al). I’ll just take my chances with the pace – Russian Roulette.

So I show up at the park and ride with my Steamroller. Given that I have a Corolla and no rack, I can only bring one bike, so I am comitted. At this point, I’m feeling like I have a revolver against my head with 1 bullet somewhere in the rotation. I’m looking around and not seeing any other fixies. I try to talk Tom Aga into riding his fixie (he’s smart, he brings 2 bikes). No dice. Uh oh. Luckily Ian and Doug roll in on theirs. Click. Nothing. Whew.

We roll out down the hill and onto Patuxent River Road. Then the pace starts to ramp up with some of the ususal “we have to go at some ungodly power level (for me anyway) beacause that’s what my coach says” types on the front. Uh oh. Then as the gap opens up they go off the front and the rest of the groups sits back, “steady and sane”. Click. Nothing. Whew.

The pace continues sane and steady, even Bill Neumann appears to be enjoying it! Then we get to Brooks Woods; towards the latter part of it, I’m starting to spin pretty hard, some gaps start. Uh oh. After the turn, it slows and regroups, and I make it comfortably to the store. Click. Nothing. Whew.

We leave the store with ACE leading the charge. All of a sudden I realize that I’m working really hard to keep the wheel in front of me. ACE is doing an interval. Uh oh. He finishes before we get to Boyds turn and I catch my breath. Click. Nothing. Whew.

At Boyds Turn, there is some quick talk about who, if anyone, is doing the shorter route. Looks like no one is, so I keep following. The tandem goes by and I’m on the wheel. We start going down the first big roller, I’m spinning at a gazillion rpms and about 37 mph. Uh oh. Big gap. Click. BANG!

I’m gone. Oh well, I made it 4 rounds. I figure its all for the better anyway as it will spare me the indignation of being left for dead over the wall. After the first roller, there’s a cut in the road so I quickly do a 180 and high tail it for Boyds Turn as the north wind alone all the way from North Beach would not be pleasant. I’m enjoying my “sane and steady” pace through Fairhaven, up the horse farm, over the wall and as I come the stop, I see some ABRT jerseys up the road. Sweet, I guess some people DID take the short cut. I work hard to catch them. It’s Ian, Doug, Heff and John. This will really help with the wind. Nice to have some company all the way back.

The “beach crowd” gets back a few minutes after us, so they must have been hauling the mail to make up 6 miles in a little over an hour as we were not lollygagging. All in all, a nice December ride, and I’m better for the bloody experience.

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