Saturday, February 13, 2010

A fixie night out on the town

HooWah. Last night Gretchen and I had a wild night out. We had heard about a fixie event in San Diego at the Embarcadero. Our friend Luke had told us about it and I asked him for particulars as to where the event was and where to park. He said he parks in the parking lot across from the "Star of India" and rides to wherever the event is being held. Our main reason for going was to see our friend Luke in the Drag Race they were having. We had told Luke we'd look for him at the event.

As we pulled into the parking lot, a car behind us flashed its high beams at us and as I looked at my mirror, I said to Gretchen that it looked like Jens. Sure enough, it was Luke and Jens. We ended up riding with them to the site of the event. I won't tell you we had a hard time finding it but, we couldn't get a bead on where it was. Gretchen ended up asking the right person and at about that time we saw a couple of other people on bikes that looked like they were going to the event. We followed, and soon got to the gathering.

Soon after we got there a man named Anthony came up to us and introduced himself to us. He was very nice. I think he was involved with putting on the event. In back of us, a short girl in army looking boots that went to her knees was cussing up a storm about how if you saw her beating up someone, you should know that she'd found the person who'd stolen her bike. Gretchen, being the kind soul she is, said some supportive things. Meanwhile, I was looking for a place upwind of the cigarette smoke she was exhaling. There was a concrete area that was full of young people mostly on fixed gear bikes and they were doing tricks. They were posturing and practicing for their upcoming "tricking" event.

Nature called. When I took my leave from the group for a bathroom break, I went into the "ride in" bathroom. It was a secure feeling to have the bike inside instead of out by the door where it could be stolen. Just before I left, someone came into the next stall. There were no doors on the stalls and as I left, my peripheral vision caught the fact that it was a female. At the doorway, I looked at the signs again and realized I'd misunderstood them and had been in the women's bathroom. I was so embarrassed and said "sorry!" loud enough to be heard from inside the loo.

Soon after I got back to the group, Luke entered the first of his three events of the evening. It was called "Foot Down". We had thought that that would be a track stand type of event but it was more like what I know from mountain bike events as "Death Cycle". The idea is to stay on the bike but either knock or intimidate others off their bikes. If you put your "foot down", you're out. Since he didn't understand the event, Luke didn't last long. I should mention that there are a lot of really big guys who were out there on the court.

Hey cool! We saw our buddy Ryan and his friend Scott after we had been there for a while. Ryan is a good vibes guy and his Mother in Law had just bought him a Brooks saddle from the shop. That happy event happened so close to his departure time that he didn't get to put it on his bike for the big fixie night out.

An ongoing theme for me was trying to balance watching the events and finding air I was happy breathing. Unlike most physically challenging activities, fixie riding seems to attract smokers.

Next event: "Track Stand". Luke went out there and did himself proud. He hung in there until there were only ten riders still balancing on their bikes. Instead of just seeing who could do the longest track stand and leaving it at that, they called out specific moves for the participants to do. One hand. No hands. Stuff like that. Very cool, I wish I could do a decent track stand. Anyway, Luke made it until they called out "one foot". The other foot goes on the front wheel. Luke said he had been working on that trick but hadn't quite gotten the hang of it. Top ten, not bad.

Our bikes had been relaxing on the grass as we watched the events. Soon it was time to get back on them and ride over to the starting line of the next event; the drag race. Overheard, about that time: a young woman said, "When I'm sixty, that's the kind of bike I'm going to ride," referring to Gretchen's bike. Gretchen told her, "I'm only 45." She said they weren't being mean, but were quite nice. Gretchen also told me that she had heard the same group of friends talking about an "old grey haired guy". I looked around. I didn't see him.

The next event up was the Drag Race. Jens went to a spot near the finish line to watch and Gretchen and I went to the start line. Luke had left his helmet with Jens and I fetched it for him. When his heat went off, he didn't get into his toe clip on one side. Luke's gear ratio is too high for an optimum quick start. Still, he was third out of four. He actually beat out a guy who is very notorious in the Southern California fixie world.

A woman shouted out "How 'bout a women's drag race?" Good for the event organizers. They went ahead and made a call for women who wanted to drag race. Gretchen raced in the event just so they would have enough women. She's such a good sport.

We left the drag race area and went back to wait for the "trickers". That was the main event of the evening. Luke is "up" on what is going on, and who's who in the world of trickers and kept us apprised of what was going on. Of course, I was noticing the details of the bikes as much as the tricks themselves.

As that event was winding down, we headed back to the cars. Ryan and Scott headed back to their cars at the same time so we got to ride together for a while. It's really fun to ride in a city at night. After we got back to our cars, Luke and Jens rode their bikes and Gretchen and I followed them around in the Vanagon to try to find a place to have some Pizza. It was clear that the bicycle is the superior way to navigate a city! The Pizza was good. The conversation was good. Gretchen was tired. We called it an evening. We got home at 1:30AM. It was a late night out for the old folks. We enjoyed every minute of it. A tip of the hat to Luke, Jens, Ryan and Scott. Thanks Dudes!