Reinventing the wheel

Cycling to work isn’t just utility, it benefits your body and soul on a number of levels. My commute is about 6 miles each way, so it’s not the longest ride but it’s more than enough to burn some calories. When you factor in showering (whether you do that at work or home) it saves time – as well as your sanity – by avoiding public transport. The tube, bus or train is a good idea in comparison to everyone driving … but the reality is really not as pleasant as the theory.

I’ve been cycling for years, in the last decade I’ve racked up enough miles within the M25 to have gone around the equator (which would probably been a lot more fun, mind). But recently I’ve switched to a fixed wheel and cycling is even more fun than it used to be.

A fixed wheel bike has no gears and no freewheel – if you pedal the wheel moves. If you pedal backwards, the wheel goes backwards. It’s about as simple as a bike can get. Purity of purpose and, for commuting, ease of maintenance.

It’s huge fun. It changes the way you cycle in traffic as you have to be much more defensive because stopping on a sixpence can be quite a traumatic experience, but you feel much more connected to the machine – and by extension to the road.

The major problem with car drivers is their lack of empty with the world around them. In their metal cages, behind toughened glass, enveloped with their personal soundtrack, they see the road and its other inhabitants as an impediment to their progress, only there to be scornfully put up with and, if possible, ignored and threatened. At best, you’re tolerated, at worst you’re physically intimidated.

On a bike – and more so on a fixed – you connect again with the world around you. The air, the views, the surface and the people of the city.

As said to a friend of mine,

"If it ain’t fixed, it’s broken."

[tags]cycling, fixed wheel[/tags]

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