I never thought I’d be one of those to gloat about anything, especially something as silly as the age-old fixie vs. roadie rivalry. It’s particularly silly when you think about it, because I am still a roadie as well. At least a couple of times a week I’m pulling on the lycra and getting out there in the full shaved-leg paraphernalia that accompanies the road cycling experience. But in the early weekday morning I am a fixie rider. Retro STP or Pink Floyd t-shirt, 3/4 length cargo pants, no computer, no heart monitor, no gears. Hard core (or as hard core as a middle aged, white bread bloke can possibly get anyway!).
So there I am riding to work on the Paddywagon, 30lb backpack on my shoulders and minding my own business. I had just stopped for a call of nature (coffee’s got to get out eventually) when a group of three roadies went by, the third rider slightly behind the lead pair. I caught up to the straggler fairly quickly and we started chatting. He complimented the bike, thank you very much, and then went on to say how fixed gear bikes scared the life out of him. He was a nice bloke and we chatted for a bit as we slowly but surely caught up to his friends. The other two are definitely not as friendly as the first and they don’t even acknowledge that I’ve arrived on the scene, but as we set off again my new friend signals to me to jump on their tail and ride with them. As we had a fairly stiff headwind that morning I was more than willing to take on the offer of a tow.
So one of the blokes up front does a pull for about two kms and then pulls off to the left to let the next guy through. As he is dropping back, my guy lets him know that I’m on the end and to watch out for me. Well, either the guy was deaf, or stupid or just a jerk, but as soon as he had dropped past his mate he cuts right in front of me, not even acknowledging that I was on the bloody road with them. That pisses me off. Being a jerk is one thing, but being a dangerous jerk is altogether a different story, and that stunt could have planted both of us on the tarmac. I wait for about thirty seconds to see if he’ll realise that I’m there and perhaps correct his faux pas, but no, nothing. Alright boys, that’s it.
I am not one to show off, or even one to throw down the gauntlet and challenge folks often. It’s just not in my nature. But these dandies on their expensive bikes and full Lycra bound bellies had ticked me off and unleashed a fire in me that could only be extinguished by teaching them a lesson.
So I pulled out from the comfortable vacuum created by the slightly large fellow in front of me, and increased my cadence gradually until I’d passed the first bloke and was now riding alongside the friendly fella from the start. I looked over and nodded and then muttered something about loving a good stiff breeze before I put my head down and prepared for the pain. And boy did it hurt. Mashing the 42/16 as hard as I could I knew I was building a gap on Team Specialized behind me. I was determined not only to stay ahead, but also to make sure that they were not blagging a free ride off my rear wheel. Childish of me? Yes, absolutely, but it satisfied that base need I had in the moment to stamp out my superiority.
By the time I reached the split for Nun’s Island where I figured they would stop following me anyway, I had managed to stay ahead, despite almost exploding a lung. Was it worth it? You bet it was.