I have always wondered about the appeal of fixed gear bikes and thought it may be an experience I enjoy. My noticeable lack of hipster friends, and the only single speed rider I know living for the time in Tuscon, Arizona left me few options to satisfy my curiosity. Purchase an overpriced fully assembled fixed gear bike new from the local bike shop, purchase an overpriced fully assembled fixed gear bike used from Craigslist, or use some old frames I already owned to build my own. (I never consider department store bikes viable options.) Considering that the fixie movement is largely based around personal expressions of creativity and ingenuity, of course the only logical choice was to build my own.
I used the frame from a 1960 Hercules 3-speed I received from friends who were demolishing a barn near Albany, purchased a few key components new, and the final result is a surprisingly fast, incredibly light weight, nice looking bike. It may seem like a big endeavor to undertake for an experiment, but as suspected, I thoroughly enjoy the fixed gear riding experience. To me it feels like the striped down version of the behemoth that road or mountain biking has become today. When we were children there was no component specs or gear ratios, no cycle computers or tight fitting spandex, there was only the bike. That is what fixed gear riding reminds me of.
Here is how it went:
In September of 2011 we moved into our new House.
By that December, encouraged by the spacious garage I now owned, I had already accumulated a number of bicycles in various states of entropy. The intent, as with all good things, was to obtain broke bikes for cheap, fix them and sell them. Riding them in the interim was the chief perk. This past weekend, (March 2013), I have completed the first full restoration.
I have been trading, buying, and selling bikes, but none that I parted with had been restored by any great deal. The Sportsman was different. I took every nut, bolt, and washer off this bike and thoroughly cleaned, greased and reassembled. This is a photographic account of that process:
After First Rinse
Dissembling the Wheels
The Sturmey Archer 3-speed Internal Gear Hub
Hub Partially Reassembled
Hub Ball Ring Assembled
Hub Mechanism on Axel and Hub Housing
Yesterday evening The Wife and I had the chance to attend a screening of the documentary Ride the Divide in a small opera house in Geneva, NY. The film follows, or attempts to follow, the journey of three endurance mountain bikers as they race along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to Mexico. To get the stats out of the way: the whole race is over 2700 miles, the total elevation gain across the course is 200,000 vertical feet (which is often compared to climbing from sea level to the top of Mount Everest 7 times), there have been less than 100 individuals that have attempted the feat, less than 40 have been successful.
Despite some technical difficulties with the actual projection of the film, the evening was quite enjoyable. The screening was arranged by the Geneva Bicycle Center, (where I purchased my Fisher 29er a few years ago), and a raffle was held to distribute prizes ranging from energy bars, to waived race registration fees, and ultimately a full bike frame and set of racing rims provided by various sponsors. The atmosphere was informal and resembled closely the attitude of the local mountain biking culture here in the Finger Lakes.
As for the film itself, personally I think its biggest advantage was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. The film makers were acutely aware of their audience and designed the film to cater specifically to dirt riding enthusiasts. By that I mean they didn’t shy away from including elements in the film which may, if screened by a more critical audience, give the impression the creators are a bit less than professional. One example occurs during the early part of the film when the film crew was caught in traffic in the starting city and actually missed the start of the race. It took the crew a few days to catch up with the leaders, but along the way the discovered some interesting places and interesting people, which ultimately strengthened the film.
Of course, as movies like this have a tendency to do, I felt the spark of adventure calling me to some epic cross-country endurance rides. While I don’t quite feel the tug to subject my body to such a grueling trial of the human spirit, I would very much love to travel out west and tour around for several days observing natures beauty with a few good friends. I have such friends. My brother lives in Park City, Utah and another is attending graduate school in Tuscon, Arizona. And although I have yet to scrap together the necessary resources and timing to visit either of them, there will be such a time when the journey is possible and we will complete some epic rides. But definitely not climb Mount Everest 7 times!
If you are interested in finding a screening or purchasing the film you can visit the Ride the Divide website HERE.
Filed under Bikes, Movies