STILL FIXATED


A year on from publicly declaring my fixie fixation, I'm still wimping out by riding my Pearson Touché as a single speed, free wheel. There's no good excuse for this laxity.

Time poverty could be a plausible reason. It must take considerable hours of practice to feel confident on a fixie, after all - time I don't have. But the truth is, I've just never got round to flipping my rear wheel. I feel quite comfortable staying free and single - in a bicycling sense at least.

Being a cheerleader for a movement I've not wholly embraced myself may smack of hypocrisy. But a recent jaunt into London's Square Mile suggests that I am not alone.





The City is a-swarm with bicycles of all shapes and sizes, weaving their way through the congested traffic. Trader types on mountain bikes; prim PAs on granny-geared shoppers; thrusting graduates on rusting steel racers; shop assistants on secondhand hybrids; company directors on shiny folders; cockney geezers on dodgy knock-offs; posties on sturdy Pashleys; painter and decorators on something dredged from the depths of s skip and even unconvincing bobbies keeping the unsteady peace, on two wheels.

But above all, the higways and byways of this global financial hub are dominated by grungy couriers on customised track irons and even more, by doe-eyed fakengers just wishing they were living the messenger life style - for real - instead of sitting at a desk 10 hours a day, in return for an unfeasibly huge bonus.

The latter category let their true colours shine through almost without fail when they approach red lights or jammed junctions. Not for them the calibrated slowing of pedal revs and balletic track stand of the true fixed wheel cyclist. They slow down in a more conventional way. They slam on their screeching brakes and free wheel to a standstill. Say it again softly, 'they free wheel to a standstill'. As soon as they do that their carefully cultivated illusion of messenger cool is shattered, their fixie credentials cruelly deflated by the mother of all punctures.

Does it matter? I don't mind. It's a rich cycling tapestry to behold and all of them; from the be-suited gents on their brand new Bromptons, to the barrow boys on their BMXs; add to the spectacle of a city in thrall to the humble bicycle.


It would be churlish of me to look down on any fellow pedaller now, after championing the cause of the rigid rear cog only to coast along like any other shallow cycling charlatan not in true harmony with his machine. And maybe one day I will flip flop that back hub - just for the hell of it.

No crude stereotypes were knowingly harmed in this post.

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