Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Fixed Forest Foray

(That one was for you, Spearman)

With the untimely demise of my road fixie last week I had the brilliant idea to take fixing into the woods. Why not? I had just started my affair with fixed riding. If I shelved it now until a new road frame presented itself (side note: if anybody comes across a bigass (59+cm), cheapass (<$100) road frame capable of fixing, email me please!), who knows how long I'd have to wait. So I pulled the rear wheel off the roadie, pulled the tire off the wheel, slapped a dirt tire on and put the whole shebang on the Karate Monkey. At 32x15, she's not optimally geared, but I was hoping she was at leas survivable.

Having taken last Tuesday and Wednesday off of work, I was able to sneak in my first fixed dirt ride at Wakefield. was a lot of fun. Way more than I expected. And not nearly as agonizing as I had envisioned. I guess the same could have been said at the dawn of my singlespeed riding years back. In each case, I fully expected the experience to be agonizing. Not understanding how or why so many friends chose to endure it in the name of "fun".

Anyway, for those familiar with Wakefield, I started on the flattest section I could find...the far end opposite where the races are run. I tooled around on the flats for a while until I felt comfortable pedaling every dirt inch. I then headed over to try my luck riding the race course (which is a bit more hilly). By the end of my hour ride, I think I had covered the whole race course, and even added in a few climbs just to see if I could manage them.

So I guess my shopping list is a bit longer now, and must include a new Tomi Cog in a more dirt friendly size. Spearman has generously offered the loan of his 19t Tomi cog. I hope to give that a spin and decide if 19t or 20t is the sweet spot I require.

As for riding fixed on dirt, it's amazing how quickly you stop thinking about the fact that you're constantly pedaling. That always seemed to be the most physically daunting aspect of fixed dirt riding (or road riding, for that matter). But after a short while, you don't even notice it...Until you try to coast when crossing a log. Twice. Aside from that, there were no mishaps. I made all but one of the climbs I attempted. I successfully crossed about 40% of the logs I attempted. I had to bail on a few attempts, but I never fully hit the ground. I did keep grabbing my rear brake lever. The fact that its cable lead to a caliper sans rotor never seemed to sink in.

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