Fixed Gears for Fears

I woke up to sore legs today. Not your typical post-ride sore legs. Not exactly your post-race type of soreness either (but we’re getting closer.) This type of soreness is the all too familiar feeling I would get after riff raffing late at night on the track bike.

I can recall a time when doing epic things on track bikes was cool. My cycling upbringing involved such things. I never climbed the French alps or anything to that caliber, but I did ride a track bike unconventionally amongst my road bike owning friends and didn’t let that slow me down. There is nothing quite like climbing with a greater momentum than one would normally have with the ability to change into an easier gear. The same goes for descending too. As it stands right now I am a few gear inches too short to continue to descent down canyons roads comfortably in fear my legs might spin too fast & I won’t have enough time to recover or gain control. That’s not to say I don’t miss it (because I do.)

As corny as the video production may seem, as pretentious the rider, this concept stuck with me.

In between the lack of communication I seem to reward the ones I care about, and the depression that comes from not being able to ride the new bike stuff one acquires, I decided to ride out to century city for a bike race put on by local bike messengers right here in southern California. From the moment I left my house, to the starting line, I felt incredibly nervous. First for having to climb up and over some hills to get to the location and to do well and not die come race time. The climbing doesn’t phase me as much as the spinning that is required on the downhill. Whether there is traffic, a steep gradient, or a thrown chain happens, there comes a time when you accept your fate in this situation. The nerves and jitters fade away much like the pains of a tattoo and the rider is genuinely living in the moment. A moment one must deal with immediately and requires the same amount of effort to go down as it did to go up.

I made it to the race in one piece. I was greeted by the messengers with welcoming praise. I saw some familiar faces, and made new friends too. The course was short and sweet, four right turns, one side of the race involving a steep hill followed by a series of downhills less steep and more safe. When it came time to get started, I immediately noticed how my interval training has played an important part in the intensity of these accelerations required when it came time to hit the punchy hills, as well as my recovery time from said climbing. Once the race started there was a gap that opened up due to the slowing traffic in the city. There were a few big names that entered the race and once this gap opened up, they were never seen again. That’s not to say that no fun was had for the rest of the race.

I got to race with my buddy Jason who has been nothing but a positive influence when it comes to getting back on a track bike. There was a lot of riff raff that entered our race, but the fast pace thinned them out really quick. There were a few close calls (going in between traffic, & weaving through pedestrians crossing the street) but nothing to make me back out of the race. We ended up racing for a total of about 13-15 km with about 100 meters of climbing per lap. I felt pretty good but was inhibited by my gear choice. I climbed the hill just fine, but when it came time to get the momentum back up on the downhill, I had hit my high speed before we hit the “bottom” of the course before the climb began again. I got passed by a few riders able to push bigger gears, but managed to spin uphill and pass them when it mattered the most.

It being an unsanctioned street race, I don’t know what place I got, but that didn’t matter much to me. I got over my fear of racing the track bike on the streets amongst other local riders (“mission accomplished” he said to himself when all was said and done.) Would I do it again? Probably. Until that day comes, I’ll be keeping up the good work.



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