Day Two of Riding a Fixie: Thankyou Brakes!
I rode downtown to do some work and eventually meet up with some folks for a drink. It was my second ride on my fixed gear. There were some healthy hills to go down and a good deal more traffic to contend with. My overall conclusion? Brakes are awesome!
It shouldn’t be surprising that riding a fixed gear is very different. It is pretty much like a regular single gear most of the time, except where it is nothing like a single gear. Where things diverge most are hills and intersections.
On hills, you really need a pretty tough gear ratio unless you are really fast as pedaling. My new ratio is pretty decent for the time being as it wasn’t too fast going downhill, but it was definitely fast. A couple times I tried to slow down without my brakes and realized pretty quickly that I was not able to stop very quickly. With time an experience I’m sure this will change somewhat, but physics suggests that it will never be like using brakes. Thankfully, my brakes are working like true champs and stopping is not really a problem.
The other difficult thing is dealing with traffic at intersections. Typically on my single speed, I can push off and coast for a second to get my feet in the toe straps. If I need to take a corner somewhat quickly, I can coast through it safely. On the fixed gear, neither is trivial. Getting my feet in the toe straps as the pedal is moving is tricky, especially when my shoes are wet (it had just rained a bit this afternoon before riding). Likewise, taking a corner with some speed is a little more nerve racking since I can’t stop pedaling. I’m sure over time these issues will be less of an issue. Some more practice should help in both cases. The few times I managed to nail a turn or get my foot in the toe strap on the first try, it was actually a really good feeling.
I’m really excited I got these new wheels and the fixed gear. It is tough to find reasons to get out an exercise when you almost always have things you can do at home. Having a new toy to play with has been a great excuse to hop on my bike instead of thinking I don’t have the time. I’m hoping the extra time pedaling will help get me ready for tour in February!