The ChainLink Crowd Is Often Silent At The Wrong Time… Remember Steven Lane?

Summary

Some kind soul resurrected a nifty ChainLink thread titled “are there any super fast weekly rides out there?” from about three years ago:

© Jesse K
Fixed Gear Bike Poseur

Posted by android886 on May 5, 2009

i just moved here from LA, I used to ride with wolfpack hustle. and I’m looking for a weekly ride that is really fast road/fix gear ride. are there any in chicago?

I have seen some of these guys racing along North Avenue on a Sunday and was amazed at the risks they take. This thread gets interesting as it progresses:

Reply by Norm Hansen on May 5, 2009 at 3:40pm
Last sunday we did 40 miler with a 19.5 ave.
Starting at Cuba March Forest preserve. Start time 9:15am most sundays

Also These guys are fast paced riders with people going off the front alot.
http://www.harperride.net/

Reply by android886 on May 5, 2009 at 4:14pm

is it all geared up road bikers? I dont ride with a helmet and it seems like all of these rides require one. and i ride a track bike. are there any rides at that start at night?

Yep. You read that right. These knuckleheads like to ride super fast, without benefit of a helmet and if possible at night. But it gets better:

Reply by Brett Ratner on May 5, 2009 at 10:11pm

Monday nights last summer, there was a decent-sized group of fixed gear people doing the “Knife” ride. The ride starts by McDonalds at Western and Milwaukee, goes up Milwaukee until it intersects with Elston, comes back down Elston, way down to where it intersects with Milwaukee again, and back up Milwaukee to Western. It’s called the “Knife” because on a map, the route looks like…umm…a knife. The route is almost exactly 20 miles. The few times I rode, the group did it in under an hour…stoplights included…and there was a fair amount of danger blowing through busy six-corner intersections.

I don’t know if people are still doing it, but if so, hopefully that would be sufficiently fast and perilous. I’m trying to remember, but I think the ride leaves at 8pm.

Now at least one of the “adults” in the group of responders said:

Reply by Jon on May 6, 2009 at 6:48am

“and there was a fair amount of danger blowing through busy six-corner intersections.”

I’m sorry, but if you’re stupid enough to blow through busy six-corner intersections, you damn well deserve what’s coming to you. Not only are you endangering your own life, you’re endangering the safety of the pedestrians, drivers, and anyone else on the road. Have a little respect.

It was hard to type that without curses.

Leave it to a female to offer some alternatives for track bike riders that make a good deal of common sense. But what fun would that be? Anne writes:

Reply by Anne on May 6, 2009 at 9:39am

If one is really hell bent on going fast on fixie without stoplights, why not try racing at the track in Northbrook? There are training sessions Monday and Tuesday nights, and then licensed racing Thursday nights.
http://www.northbrookvelodrome.org/

Season starts next Thursday evening, we need spectators! (and bring warm clothing, Northbrook gets damn cold)

Were it not for the testosterone that males have they would not be able to fight wars. It is a simple fact. Another female ride asks the obvious:

Reply by Natalie on May 6, 2009 at 5:19pm

Do you also ride brakeless in a group? Just wondering.

Reply by android886 on May 6, 2009 at 5:46pm

yes. the crew i rode with in LA were mostly brakeless fixed gear riders and a few road bikes. anywhere from 20 to 50 people in a pack.

And of course the male response isn’t to ask cautiously about the whole notion but instead to reply as follows:

Reply by Jody on May 6, 2009 at 6:59pm

I bet if you started a group, it’d be a huge it! It looks like buckets of fun. Too bad I cant keep up with you on my grocery getter bike!

Maybe by the time you’re up an running, my cool road rager will be all put together and ready to take a beating.

Have fun – and keep the Chainlink posted, please!

Now this guy must either be an “adult” or a sissy:

Reply by Ali on May 6, 2009 at 8:40pm

No offense dude, but I would not want you in my pace line if you are riding without brakes…Last thing I want is some driver does something stupid in front of the group, we all hail on the brakes for you to rear end us and send us all flying…I actually got rear ended by a “hipster” and it didn’t end too well for neither him or me.

-Ali

But there surely must be someone on the ChainLink who is offended by the idea that anyone would question what is clearly an irrational approach to cycling, right? You bet:

Reply by Brett Ratner on May 6, 2009 at 10:12pm

Thanks for the tip, Jon. Will you now be advising me on doing my taxes? Should I pay you a consulting fee for your sage advice and wisdom? Does wearing spandex in your profile photo make you seem like a bicycle authority, or a weekend warrior who feels compelled to tell people who ride every day, 12 months out of the year how they should ride?

I’m not saying I disagree with your opinion. But when participating in discussion forums, Jon, please realize that there’s is a fine line between expressing one’s opinion, and being an opinionated ass. You’ve now served as a fine example of the latter…and I’d like to add that in the process you have positioned yourself as the one who is, indeed, stupid.

Please, moving forward, Jon, be nice or post somewhere else.

Now these are the kinds of folks I really am willing to see tax dollars spent on to add more cycling infrastructure. I say this because the Executive Director of Active Transportation Alliance seems to feel that once enough infrastructure has been built everyone will begin to ride safely. I wonder what planet his is living on? Does anyone really believe this sort of “panty-waist logic”?

The fact of the matter is that this kind of riding is what makes the average motorist “see red”. There is no need to “be nice”. That would be like sitting quietly and rolling your eyes while some guy in a group discussion gives excruciating details about the last time he raped his eight your old daughter.

Calling the guy an degenerate to his face is what is in order, not civility. Ali has it right:

Reply by Ali on May 6, 2009 at 10:46pm

What he said was completely relevant to the discussion! It is you who is being a complete ass. And do not make the mistake of assuming everyone who wears biking shorts and jersey is a weekend warrior.

Remember Steven Lane? He got killed in Tour da Chicago last year doing this same type of crap you are trying to defend? Nobody and I mean NOBODY stood up and said, “Well what the hell was he thinking doing an alleycat?” If you want to take risks take them in a way which will not endanger others in the meantime. I just hope that this hipster/scenester crowd will pick a different scene damn soon…

You want to see how tough you are? Go out at the Velodrome and see for yourself if you can hang with the riders out there…

-Ali

Reply by Brett Ratner on May 7, 2009 at 12:09am

Ali:

Ummm…I wasn’t defending illegal and/or dangerous activity. But thank you for reading my reply as carefully and thoughtfully as you did. I feel so much better knowing that my point got across.

Since it seems apparent I need to spell stuff out for the remedial readers out there: I have absolutely no desire to endanger myself or anyone else. I do not condone others riding recklessly and/or endangering themselves and others. I believe that we as bicyclists need to set a good example to other bicyclists and represent the bicycling community responsibly to the community as a whole. For the record all four of my bikes are equipped with highly functional brakes. And despite my “tough” appearance and rugged good looks, there is no place I need to be bad enough and no rider I need to keep up with bad enough to risk the life of myself or a driver or a pedestrian. In other words, if I’m on a group ride and the light turns red at a busy intersection, I stop. If other people want to blow the intersection, that’s their deal, not mine.

What I take issue with is people like Jon (and now people like you) who make lots of assumptions and think they can judge other people.

Android886 started this post. The way he rides is not the way I ride…but I, (unlike you) don’t think I’m so awesome that I can judge other people. It seemed to me like the Knife ride would be enjoyable to him, and filled with people who ride like he does, so I told him about it and told him what the experience was like.

Again, if you or Jon or whomever can’t be nice and keep your judgmental crap to yourself, go away.

See this is just what is called for. You hear about a guy doing something clearly stupid and you call him out and he wants you to be non-judgmental. Why? This stuff is simply wrong on all levels. It is against the law, it needlessly endangers pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. And if I am correct the first time one of these knuckleheads dies there will be a bunch of ChainLinkers out to produced stickers and handouts about how a rider in one of these stupid races got “doored” and lost his life and the motorists need to be educated about watching before exiting their vehicles on the traffic side.

But the Jon stands his ground on this issue (and rightly so):

Reply by Jon on May 7, 2009 at 7:00am

Perhaps my language wasn’t the most agreeable, but once again, using the term “blowing through 6 way intersections” seems like you don’t seem to care about anyone else on the road but yourself. Its disrespectful to pedestrians, auto’s and other riders, it’s putting everyone else at risk even if you don’t care for your own safety and frankly that seems selfish. Further more, it seems to go against the reasoning of CCM, which many people on this board seem to be rather big fans of.

I’m not arguing with the type of bike you ride or what you wear. You may insult me for wearing spandex all you please, I know why I wear it, I know why it helps me when I do. You wield the term weekend warrior as an insult, although I’m not sure why. I have a staunch opposition to driving anywhere in the city, if I can avoid it, choosing to go by bicycle. Also, this is one of the first times I feel I’ve made such a statement that’s labeled me as “an opinionated ass” on this board. I guess my words could’ve been seen with an angry tinge to them, but you also seemed to jump down ones throat just as quickly my friend.

As for taxes, I’m a pretty strong advocate of Turbotax, especially their free service. I like the way it saves your financial records from the prior year, and then will fill in the applicable spaces to make the process quick and efficient.

I can just hear some of these fixed gear brakeless guys talking as they look out of their windows at their neighbors being rounded up by the Gestapo. They would probably say something like “Too bad the Frank’s are being carted away. But hey, why be nasty and judgmental. Perhaps they did something to deserve this?”

Ali writes:

Reply by Ali on May 7, 2009 at 12:46pm

I on the other hand have been well documented disliking fixie riders…It absolutely drives me nuts to see a nice road bike with a chopped derailleur hanger converted into a fixie. It’s like watching a Lamborghini being driven like a Fiat.

-Ali

P.S. Brent: You mentioned earlier that you did the ride a few times in the past, and it is my understanding that if you do a ride a few times you are indeed supporting it and the way it is being ridden(in this case carelessly throughout the city.) It is only a matter of time before one or three of these retards are going to end up under a garbage truck while they are “blowing through” a 6-way intersection but no worries; as it will not be their fault I am sure. Oh and just because you ride every day of the month for 12 months does not automatically make you an authority either.

Now the “touchy feely” side of fixie riding gets displayed. Somebody cue the violins:

Reply by Brett Ratner on May 7, 2009 at 6:44pm

I don’t want to get sucked into this mess any more than I have…but I can’t resist.

Jon…my apologies. The spandex comment was out of line and more an emotional response than anything else. By me making assumptions about you, I’m therefore guilty of the things I was accusing you of. Honestly, I’m agreeing 100% with your opinions about safety and consideration for others. I just think that you took what I was saying out of context and made a bunch of assumptions when you know nothing about me. Anyway, we’re cool, right? And yes, your ass looks very nice in the shorts.

Ali…I say what I’m about to say from the perspective of someone who likes to ride fixed gear with fixed gear people, someone who likes to ride road bikes with the road bike crowd, someone who enjoys mountain biking, commuting, and so forth…I like biking in general, and I have respect for all kinds of riders. So here I what I think:

You absolutely don’t know what the hell you are talking about when you spout off about fixed gear bikes. You may know tons of stuff about cyclocross or criteriums or whatever, but I hate to say it, you are a stone cold idiot when it comes to urban messenger-style riding or “hipsters” or whatever you want to call it.

Having ridden with brakeless fixie riders, I am truly amazed at their ability to flow effortlessly through traffic.

When I said “blow through intersections,” in reality what I was talking about are riders who are very much in control and in harmony with their environment. Brakeless fixie riders are thinking three steps ahead of most riders (they have to be), and in reality are among the safest and most skilled riders in the city.

I’ll take android886 over you in a pace line any day. The moment that car pulls out suddenly, you’ll be the one on the brakes, sphincter puckered, headed toward the ditch. As you tumble into the weeds, Android will be safely around the car happily pedaling away because he saw it coming and planned his evasive maneuver accordingly.

Bottom line, you’re always hating on fixed gear riders because they are riding at a higher level than you and you don’t understand it so instead you have to criticize it.

Now see, it is all clear now. Yoda is a fixed gear rider and has “The Force” with him. No mention however of the illegality of doing this kind of riding, but hey. As long as you are in harmony with the universe everything is just fine.

Just a couple more responses from the “adults” in the thread:

Reply by Ali on May 8, 2009 at 12:30am

Indeed the brakeless fixie crowd is different than all of us…They have invisible antennae which can detect magnetic and electronic waves a car generates. It’s like having a radar attached to your head only better! Indeed I am jealous…How come I don’t have those antennae? They are also blessed with Nostradamus like foresight. After all they are in Zen with the road right? That fixed gear bike connects them to the road in a way that no freewheel machine can! Also since they lack the convenience/common sense of a brake they have to have foresight into the future even if its only for 5 seconds. Oh wait a second given we are riding a similar bike geometry and tires I can do pretty much anything that they can do too when it comes to evading obstacles save for the elephant trunk skids… And at least give me the benefit of doubt when it comes to my bike handling skills. Because unlike your “weekend warrior” impression I do know how to use which brake under which condition. Also I am well aware of which lines can be stuck and which lines can lead to disaster.

I ride in the city quite often and see the kinda crap they pull all the time. Sure it looks cool to the uneducated, is it safe that’s whole another ball game. I have nothing against messengers, they are doing what they can to survive, it is the hipster/scenester crowd(20 something art student/messenger wanna be) that I have an issue with. Are you familiar with the type? Whatever the messenger does its the new fad. First was Deep V’s, then came Aerospokes, then came HED3’s. Do they even realize that as you go down the list you are sacrificing cornering ability? Nope. Then the 2 fist bars, and the NJS craze, the list just keeps going. I just dislike that particular crowd because they are giving us biker all a bad name. Whether it be crashing into cars, pedestrians, or bashing in windows. I have seen it all done! When I am out cruising with my friends, they blow past you with literally millimeters to spare with not so much as a cursory “On your left!”. Or what about the ones that try to draft you, and when I pick up the pace because I do not trust their handling skills they have the nerve to scream at me. If they only asked “Hey do you mind if I jump on your wheel?” given the situation was controllable I would have been O.K. with it. But nope they are under the impression that they are better than the rest. Alas it is not the case. Hence my general dislike towards the fixie crowd.

I am happy to see more and more bikers out there, but these people need to learn the finer points of biking and for god’s sake stop mutilating/amputating beautiful road frames that are meant to have dérailleurs. Have the common sense to leave them on there. And install some brakes, don’t use them unless you want to but have it there just for safety sake. After all what the hell are you going to do when that chain snaps on you? Stop it with prayer? I think not!

Reply by Vondo on May 9, 2009 at 2:22am

The whole thing about knowing what cars are going to do, and assuming that brakeless riders are somehow more cognizant of all the potential hazards awaiting them is bull.

Riding fixed allows riders to make relatively small adjustments in speed if they are say, riding in a pack at CCM or at the velodrome but in the most urgent situations, there’s no way that skidding your tire is going to give you more stopping power than a front brake, PERIOD. By definition skidding means you’ve passed the friction envelope of your tire, and are actually losing control of your vehicle, whatever that vehicle is.

I like riding fixed myself, but I do so knowing the limitations of that setup, I don’t pretend that I am somehow more skilled or “in a Zen-like connection with the road”, just like I know that if I depend on my transmission in my car to slow and stop instead of the brake pedal, I am not more “in touch” with the freeway.

Riding fixed is fun and maybe even fashionable, but its a stretch to try to justify doing it by saying its safer or that it makes you a better rider.

Get over it, we all like bikes. 🙂

OK. I’ve had enough. This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Guess that the debate will never really end. The real problem here is that cycling as a whole suffers from this sort of nonsense. But fixie riders are not in the least concerned about that. They are self-absorbed and intent on an adrenaline high. I get that.

What I don’t understand is why riders that should know better would go out of their way to memorialize someone who rides one of these bikes in situations for which they were never designed. These are track bikes. You don’t ride them recklessly on streets if you plan to be around for any length of time. It is that simple.

The margin of error for any reckless riding is narrow. It is even narrower for those on fixes. I’ll believe that the ChainLink community deserves respect when it decides en masse to reject this sort of thing in favor of Sharing The Road.

After all the stickers that will be produced will in essence imply that notion. How is it that when confronted with clearly illegal behavior there is nothing said about the implications except by a limited few? You can always expect the Cycling Advocacy crowd to trot out their indignation when a writer takes the cycling community to task for its “bad behavior” on the road.

Rather than acknowledging the truth in their criticisms Executive Directors cannot wait to get a blurb out contradicting the author. But you never, ever see a blurb about the fixie crowd. We must never speak ill of another cyclist regardless of how awful their behavior might be.

This is wrong! We should be able to be self-critical and it should not be a death sentence inside the community to do so. But at present it is and that is sad.

We now return to our regularly scheduled world of “we need more infrastructure to keep us from being scofflaws” crap.