The last six months have been a wonderful transformation.
I had cycle commuted for fourteen years before my seven year stint with a small truck. When the truck broke down for the last time it was easy to shift back in to the bicycles.
The first 500 miles were a trial by rain and hail. I felt 23 again, it was exhilarating. I had all my bases covered with the exception of the increased presence of the ponds and streams of a deteriorated road system. My feet would get soaked fording these water hazards. I found a pair of waterproof Lake 303’s on a clearance sale, they’ll be great for the winter. I can even outfit them with spikes.
The next 500 miles I wavered between feeling half and double my age. Two and three day weekends spent practically motionless recovering from the miles. Towards the end I plateaued and was thinking of increasing my route distances.
After the 1,000 miles I began to worry about the quarterly toll on my bike and whether or not I could keep up with maintenance. Just then the Motobécane fell on my lap. Complete with a fixed hub and a freewheel hub. I took it in for an overhaul and started with the freewheel. After 60 miles and a review of a Sheldon Brown article, I switched to the fixed gear and was transformed.
The third 500 miles I felt like I was 5 or 6, whatever age I ditched the training wheels. I was anxious to find if I could pull off using the fixed gear where gears were crucial; steep hill climbs and cargo runs up the home climb. Test runs turned into long rides. I’d go out and play past my limits to return home and crash, sleeping before bedtime. By the end I was able to climb Woodburn (a steep climb on the last leg to work) to my gig. I paid my friend on the spot for the bike, he was surprised at the amount, but I felt I couldn’t pay him enough.
The last 500 miles I’ve touched on my chain-ring chakra and pretty much commute with a perma-grin on the fixed gear bike. Midway through I broke a spoke early on a week long gig. I had to ride the geared mountain bike. I took it with a grain of salt at first. I’m hoping for some weekend ATB rides and wanted to dial into the frame geometry, but the sluggishness of the derailleurs was clear. Day after day I longed to get back on the fixed. I got agitated after the gig struggling to get it going again.
So here, after riding 2,000 miles and climbing 80,000 feet, I’m tuning up the bikes for the miles to come. The road bike that took me through the first 1,000 is getting a new chain and I’m bullet-proofing the fixie with a spare rear wheel.