Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I have met them at close of day

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
More vaguely non-smoking related wonderfulness. Cycling to and from work at least once a day now. The hot and sweaty yet freezing fucking cold combo can be more than a little uncomfortable but the thrills and not only spills but frills of a crosstown fixed gear commute are not to be underestimated. The anticipation, the wayward weaving, the very rush of it all. I discover more smoothness and control with every flown by kilometre, but folks, still I lack the skills.

I cannot truly track stand. I can go so slowly as to be almost standing still. I rarely have to unclip at a traffic light. Yet still the backward and forward scooching eludes me. I don't get that much opportunity to practise, is my weak excuse. I need some quality, heavily padded midnight time on the cul de sac, I reckon, where I'm happy to do a whole lot of teeter toppling. I'll get it, I know that I'll get it, I'll totally sort this tricky track stand out.

But there is a whole load of other shit about which I am not nearly so confident. Yesterday, just past the concert hall, I spotted a courier stopped, foot grounded out of strap at a red light. Too late in the day for a showy move, I guessed. Or maybe he can't do a trackstand either, the useless fuck, I mused. Either way, I pissed passed him through a generous gap in the oncoming traffic. Too fast to be sure of the kind of bike he was working, but slow enough to see that it was certainly fixed and that he had incidentally magnificent hair. For dust I left him as I turned towards Charlemont Bridge.

He passed me on Ranelagh Road. I jumped, somewhat irked, into his slipstream. We both sped along for a moment or two before he veered off to the right and performed some of the sweetest, the most effortlessly graceful shit that I've ever seen. Unweighting his back wheel, this street knight stopped pedals and back wheel, using the ensuing skid not to come to a standard and unimpressive stop, but merely as a means of deceleration, before lightly bunny-hopping onto the pavement and resuming his impossibly smooth pedal stroke. I gasped. I gaped. I drew in breath to shout 'You're so fucking cool!' but realised that this in itself would be somewhat uncool, and that I was about to rear end a slow moving Saab. It was a beautiful thing folks, I wish you could have been there to see it, you would have been blown away.

These are the kind of skills, you see, skills that I would possess but doubt that I ever will.

27 Johns and Janes for the comment whore:

Radge said...

'I cannot truly track stand.'

Would you mind explaining what that means for me?

I'm too inert for my own health.

savannah said...

waaaaaay too intense for me, sugar. i thought i was hot shit on my cruiser bike! *sigh* xoxo

gimme a minute said...

Motionless on a bike without removing feet from pedals. Inertia is your friend in this case.

This example is a little over the top and perhaps not what you want to try at the traffic lights.

You are hot shit on your cruiser bike. I feel it from all the way over here.

The Hangar Queen said...


You could see that 10 times a day from the inside of a car and never appreciate it.

Different tale on a bike.

Nearly there on the track stand but I did tear up my fave P.I. fleecies when I fucking bounced off the road a while back.

I only did it once though.

Rosie said...

is he the one with the ginger dreadlocks? he winks at me on baggot st bridge in the mornings.

gimme a minute said...

The Hangar Queen:
Good woman, yourself. It's the backwards bit I have trouble with.

But I believe I will step outside right now and try a little scooching.

Yes! Though there's a least sixteen ginger dreadlocked couriers in the Greater Dublin area.

He never winked at me, the cheap tart.

Red Leeroy said...

I was always envious of the "stand" - is it possible on non fixed gear steeds?

gimme a minute said...

Red Leeroy:
Apparently so. Though it looks even fucking trickier.

Rosie said...

cheap tart? surely confining his affections to me marks him out as a more discerning crumpet.

Conan Drumm said...

I have in my time done the stationary on an old-style raleigh, front wheel turned slightly to the right and the brakes fully locked on. Other thing I used to do, if there was a good-sized kerb, was bring the left pedal back and hard down on the kerb so it kept the bike vertical as it came to a stop. Special joy came from doing it handsfree, bit hard on the pedal though.

Couriers are Class-A adrenalin junkies and they live at least eight hours a day in the saddle. It's a different league.

fatmammycat said...

With their teeny tiny handlbars too.

gimme a minute said...

You're right. I was jealous and lashing out.

That would be hard on both my pedal and my front teeth as I flew over the handlebars to land on face first on the concrete.

I have those!

I'm such a loser wannabe.

fatmammycat said...

They look really difficult to use, but I imagine they are totes necessary for sliding in and out of traffic.

gimme a minute said...

Totes! And they look sexy, to me.

grimsaburger said...

Sigh, all this bike talk and we've got a foot of snow and -20ÂșC wind chill. And by the time it melts and warms up enough to get out there again, I'll be about 50% fetus and too rotund to do anything about it.

So tell me, how do you manage to not kill yourself on a fixed-gear? I'm imagining that I would spend most of my time lurching over the handlebars.

Gav said...

I won the slow bicycle race on my Banana Bike in the Malahide Festival ca. 1982, so let me know if you want any pointers.

gimme a minute said...

Sigh indeed. At least you have the lifetime of joy and misery to look forward to.

You just keep pedalling. Really, doesn't take at all long to adapt and once you do, it's indescribably wonderful.

I'm guessing that was the last time you were on a bike. Or has our downturn turned you from Alpha to Kona?

Twenty Major said...

Let's see him do that on a fold-up Triumph, then colour me impressed.

gimme a minute said...

Twenty Major:
I'll just colour you fucking picky for the moment, shall I?

Twenty Major said...

Maybe I'm just too demanding...

gimme a minute said...

Twenty Major:
Or maybe you're just like your father, too bold.

Or 2 bold, if you insist.

Annie A said...

I had to google what it is you're trying to do. I found this clip:

I'm dead impressed. Hope I pull up next to you at a red light one day.

Pyjamas Cat said...

any ideas for a cheap bike? possibly around 100euro?

btw weaving in and out of the morning rush hour (pedestrian) traffic in central tokyo. A must.

gimme a minute said...

Save your impressed for when I can actually do it. Then you might want to make it adoration.

Pyjamas Cat:
Um, kind of no. I mean, you could probably get some Argos piece of ten stone shit for that price but saving for a couple of months and spending around $350 would be a much better idea.

Dave said...

The secret to a good track stand is to have at least your front wheel on an upward slope, just an inch or two, even if it's a bump in the road or the edge of a pothole.

Pedals level**, bars turned slightly towards your leading foot, no brakes at all, just gently inch the front wheel forward a little and then let it fall back. And you just keep doing that. Keep your eye on the front wheel and rock your baby until the light goes green.

**Of course, leveling the pedals is the hard part on a fixed gear; good luck practising your endos, and try not to die!

gimme a minute said...

Succinct and useful.

Many thanks.

So you can do a track stand and be on Mark Kermode? I really kind of hate you now.

Dave said...

I could do a trackstand ON Mark Kermode if we could just get him to stay still.

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