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.


Shred said...

Great article! I learned so much. I never new fixie riders were so lazy:

'My legs became so accustomed to the forced circles of the track bike [fixie] that they became lazy, losing the ability to do the work themselves.'

Yep it's lazy legs Montana, always looking to put less work into your workout. So typical of all you fixie/single speed types. Too lazy to shift gears, too lazy to use back brake levers, and now I find out they are even too lazy to pull on the upstroke. I'm not surprised.

Shred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shred said...

On a similar note, I know you were considering doing Crush The Commonwealth on a single speed. Looks like others have done this race without using gears and on a fixie to boot:

Still I wouldn't do the the CTC on a single speed, especially not on a fixie, you'll pedal 400 miles just end up with a set of legs that are stupid and lazy. I plan on doing the CTC on a set of power cranks! I want to teach my legs to be as efficient as possible. It's just like the old adage work smarter not harder. At the end of that ride I'll have the smartest damn legs in cycling history. They'll be so smart they'll be given honorary doctorates from Harvard and MIT in synapse firing and muscle response efficiency. Power cranks here we come!

Montana said...

I only fire a synapse when they start to slack off.