Monday, December 28, 2009

oh no! fixed gear bad now

Last week Aaron forwarded me an article about the detriments of fixed gear cycling. Using purely anecdotal evidence, the piece proves that I've been riding the wrong bike for the last three years. Oh crap salad.

The author claims that "on a fixie, the pedals are always spinning in perfect circles at very high speeds no matter how sloppy or inefficient your stroke is."  After a curcuriory glance of my bicycle, I was able to discern that my pedals are connected to the end of a solid stick of aluminum. This aluminum arm rotates around a fixed point, and much like a compass, draws a circle in the air. So unless the crank arms changed their length while pedaling, (which seems highly unlikely for a big chunk of metal,) I would agree that my pedals always spin in a perfect circle. But since fixed gears are apparently the only type of bicycle that forces a rider to pedal in this 'perfect circle,' I can only assume that the latest road bikes are outfitted with rubber cranks that allow the rider to vary the distance of the pedal from the bb, thus rewarding the sloppy pedaler with an 'oval,' or the much maligned 'squares' in his pedal stroke. I wonder if my pedal stroke would improve if I bought some of these magic cranks for my fixed gear. Hmmm...

The writer's next point really shocked me "(on a road bike) At the very least, you’ll have the experience of pushing down and, to some extent, controlling the movement throughout the pedal circle. On a fixed gear, the bike is literally doing all the work for you."

Alack! I've wasted three years riding a bike that does all the work for me! I might as well have been on a motorcycle. All this time, I thought that I was getting faster, or at least getting a workout. But apparently all my sore muscles were an illusion, because while I ride my legs have not been "required to act, they are really only required to react." 

(Notice the relaxed look on my face as my bicycle does all the work for me on the climb up Canton Ave. My calf muscle puts on a fine show of pretending to strain itself as it 'reacts.' Now I feel bad for all those poor schmucks on road bikes that had to do all the pedaling themselves.)

If in fact fixed gears "do all the work" for the rider, (in the absence of leg power, I'm guessing that they are powered by pixie dust and devil's farts,) the world's transportation issues have been solved.

As I looked back through the article, I realized that the magic cranks I imagined were not a myth. They do exist, and their name is Power Cranks! We must ignore the fact that at $899 for the base level crank, one could buy a complete fixed gear bicycle, because the cranks seem to be the best training tool ever invented. I suppose I could sell my fixed gear and tape some power cranks to my feet while I do the cabbage patch all around the house.

I do agree with the author's conclusion:
"Just like with anything in cycling, skills are extremely specific. If you plan on racing on a fixed gear then it makes sense to train on one. If you plan on racing on the road, train on your road bike or, even better, do you winter base on PowerCranks, teaching your muscles to fire in absolute perfection and coordination, and then switch to your ride bike just a few weeks before race season."
People should train on the equipment they race on. That's why if a road cyclist races with normal cranks, they should train with some super specialized power cranks. In short, don't ride a fixed gear because you are not going to race it, but definitely ride power cranks (but don't worry that you are not going to race them.) It really makes perfect sense.

Finally, the piece cations the "serious cyclist" to "Save the fixie for the high school kids riding in tight jeans." 
I'm not in high school and I ride in tight corduroy. Damn. I really need to get rid of that fixed gear if I want to be serious about my cycling.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

out of gas

I put in 3.5 hours on the fixed gear yesterday. That is good. But I completely ran out of energy at 2.75 hours. That is not so good.

I left my house early in the late morning and rode the 9 miles out to Latrobe to hit some roads with Gregg. We headed out of town and onto some twisty and slushy back roads. The ride was nice, but I was dragging the whole time. My legs felt a little better after some cliff bar consumption, but I was still tired.

After Gregg and I parted ways, I headed back to Greensburg. Before long I totally lost it. I was so tired that I was stopping in the middle of the road and track standing before continuing to slowly pedal onward. After I finally made it home, I ate two bowls of cereal and promptly fell asleep on the couch. I guess I need to eat more when I ride in below freezing temps. Whoops.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

is it spring yet?

Day 2 of riding in the white fluffy stuff. Yesterday Eric and I went down to Apollo and rode/hiked around in the stuff for a few hours. I have a great video of him pushing his bike up a hill (it was crazy exciting!), but my phone won't give it to my computer. What a scrooge.

Time to get out on a road ride. Derry area here I come.

Monday, December 21, 2009

frozen precip on the specip

On Saturday I planned to attempt the last dry ride of the season on Laurel Mountain. There were a few people lined up to come with, (I woln't mention any names Don and Aaron,) but on Friday night the weatherman issued an urgent warning that "A paralyzing winter storm is rolling in to paralyze the Northeast. With snow." Alack! Snow! With the mere mention of the word, the 'others' were out. But I totally understand. Snow can be absolutely terrifying:

Scared yet?

Gregg and I decided that we would still go, and since PennDot was on a donut break until noon, the drive to the mountain took twice as long as normal. We parked near the base and started the ride up.

I was on a rigid SS 29er, and Gregg was on a full suspension 26 with a tripple. Both were equally useless in the snow. We pushed up to the top of the mountain, thinking that maybe it would be more ridable on top where the ground was flat. Unfortunately, as we ascended the mountain, the snow became deeper. Judging by the accumulation on the brim of my hat, snow was still falling at about a half inch an hour, and there was close to ten inches on the summit. After an hour and a half of hiking, and faced with the prospect of walking for the rest of the day, we decided to turn back.

The ride down was super fun and crash filled. I declared "Last one to the bottom buys Montana a strudel!" and the race was on. For most of the slippery bomb down the mountain I led, but when we hit the road at the bottom Gregg sprinted away and beat me to the Grumbler. Dejected, I tried to come to terms with buying myself a strudel.

Friday, December 18, 2009

the conglomerate's triumphant return

Finals week has finally come to a close, and I once again have enough time to blow my nose and cook an omelet. It's extremely comforting that I will not have to use my brain for the next month, and I'll be back in the blog world on a regular basis. Let the mindless mountain cycling commence!

For the past few days, I've been ripping around on the Flouresent Fixed Death Machine of Doom, trying not to break myself:

Riding fixed off road is tricky. It's a big mish mash of spinning, skidding and slamming pedals into rocks. (It's put the final nail in my ailing Candies.)

Unfortunately, my front chain ring is so worn that I drop my chain almost every time I ride down a hill. With a fixed gear only running a front brake, that gets old fast. So until I can get a new chain ring, the Florescent Death Machine of Doom (catchy name haint it?) is going to have to be coastable.

I'm going to save the Punk Bike write up for a rainy day, because at this point its already old news, and letting it age a little more will make it taste so much better.

Time to trundle away to the outsides! Hurrah!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Punk Bike was a blast yesterday. My banana suit led me to a decisive victory in the 'race', and good times were had by all .

More words after I unearth myself from a mountain of semester ending work.

For now, a video will have to do: