Riding a fixie while waiting for fixes

Well, my bicycles are still out of commission. The Giant is waiting for new headset bearings. The Felt is waiting for a cosmetic repair to some carbon fiber. I won’t get them back until next week.

Actually, I do have the Giant with a stop-gap repair, but I don’t want to risk it out on the road. With my luck I would end up messing my bike up permanently going over a railroad track or something. I’m staying off of it until I get the new set.

The fixed gear SE Draft to the rescue!

The problem is that I don’t want to be off the bike for all this time. I sold my mountain bike some time ago. My options for wheels comes down to riding my daughter’s Specialized Sirrus or my fixed gear. For a host of reasons, I choose the SE Draft!

I pulled it out Friday afternoon so I could take my first bike ride since Monday. That is a long time for me to be off the bike. I start getting grumpy and antsy when I go a number of days without exercise. I needed to get some stuff out of my system.

The platform pedals had to go, so I moved the Speedplay pedals from the Giant to the SRAM Omnium crank. This would allow me to get my cadence up a bit higher without worrying about getting thrown off. Staying on the pedals is important around here with all the downhills.

I rode up to Sunshine Cycle Shop in hopes that they had their scale back in operation (they had loaned it to the officials for the pro race). I wanted to see how much weight I would be hauling around. Unfortunately, they hadn’t gotten it mounted. (Later my bathroom scale informed me the bike weighs 23.2 pounds.) After adding some air to the tires, I headed out to have a little fun taking in the Chick Springs TT Strava segment on the fixie!

I turned onto the segment and on the first section was spinning like a mad man! There was no choice but to try to keep up with the bike. There was a small amount of force being created as I was putting out rpm’s of 132 – 144. The cadence never dropped below 100 rpm until the very last few meters when the road kicks up.

One of the fun things about using the fixie with Strava is that I get to see the service’s calculated power. I find that it is normally around 20 watts under my power meter wattage, but it does give me some idea of what type of numbers I can get on the bike.

My max power was around 900 watts. The average for the segment was 278 watts (with a meter, I don’t doubt it would be around 300). The bottom line is that I covered the segment in 2 minutes and 24 seconds with an average speed of 28.5 mph.

I then headed toward the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The plan from there was just to have a leisurely ride before returning home to take my son to his baseball game. The evening was cool and I was having fun.

Nearing the trail near Broad Street, I noticed the rain was beginning to fall. There was a reason it was cooler. A front was blowing in. The clouds were beginning to roll above my head.

I decided to turn left on the trail back toward home instead of right toward TR. The idea of getting stuck in a cold rain was not very appealing. As it was, it would take me about 20 minutes to get home and that was plenty of time to get soaked.

The rain came and went as I rode through Cleveland Park. I turned onto Stone Avenue and still was avoiding getting soaked as I rode underneath I-385. Then, just as I passed under the overpass, a bright flash of light startled me. At first I thought it was a bright car light or something. Then I heard the rumble of thunder.

As I turned right onto East North Street, the threat of rain increased. I was standing on the pedals now and driving for home! The announcement I had heard earlier about possible hail was on my mind.

One thing about a fixed gear is that once you can get the momentum going, it is actually pretty easy to climb a shallow rise. The climb up East North is a 3.4% average with most of the steeper section at the beginning of the effort. My cadence was pretty close to what I would use on my road bike. The power numbers came in at 500 watts average for the half mile climb.

As I turned onto my street the bottom let loose. At this point the rain felt good. Of course, that might have been because I knew that in a few moments I would be nice and dry.

The bad luck continued though as I looked at the bicycle after the baseball game ended and the sun came back out. I could see the rear tire was pretty bald. The rubber was an old Michelin Pro racing tire that had quite a few miles on it before I put it on the Draft. Looks like I’m going to have to get this fixed as well.

Overall, it was a fun experience. I even got an unexpected PR and KOM on a Strava segment. Still, I don’t think I want to ride a fixed gear all the time. I’m getting ready to stop fixing and start riding!

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About Jonathan Pait

Jonathan started riding mountain bikes in the early 1990s. After discovering the ride can start at the end of his driveway, he moved to the road in 2006. Little did he know that first pedal stroke would lead him on an adventure that has become much larger than the bicycle.