Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tank Slapper

Fixed gear bicycles are dangerous. They incorperate a direct drive system that does not allow the rider to coast. When the wheels are turning, the pedals are spinning. These bikes come in a wide variety of interpretation. From the retro-fixed old schwinn clunker to the high end modern track-bike ($20,000). Many of them are so stripped of components ie; derailuers, brakes, cables levers, that control of them can become a real issue. I had the priviledge of "being along for the ride" last year, on a Fixie that (unbeknownst to me) had picked up a goathead sticker in it's rear tire. I was moving along at a good clip on a slightly downhill section of road, entering a right hand curve.
Suddenly, without any warning what so ever, I felt the rear of the bike try to go straight while the rest of the bike was turning right. My rear tire was going down fast (flat). The pedals kept churning away as the bike squished and squirmed beneath me. Then in a terrifiing split second known to motorcycle road-racers as a "tank-slapper", I felt the the rear tire fold under the rim and my handle bars crossed up. I somehow, miraculously saved it and reached ever so gingerly for the tiny little front brake lever that I had decided might be prudent to run on the bike (not included). Ever so carefully I applied the brake and thankfully came to a stop by the side of the road.
My heart was beating about 200 times a minute. Then I realized It was OK to start breathing again. Later I was relating the story to a buddy of mine who lives and rides fixies in Arcada. He just shook his head and said, "Jim, the reason you didn't go down is because fixed gears are like gyroscopes Man! You're just lucky you didn't kill yourself with that damned brake!"
What ever Peter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is some scary sounding shit man. I'd love to try a fixie on a track sometime, but I just don't have the desire to try it out on the open road.