I started riding fixed gear bikes years ago, before they became every hipsters fashion accessory. I was working as a bicycle messenger and my first bike was an old Raleigh road bike; though the gears were shit and never worked properly, I found myself staying in the one gear for most of the day. Eventually I converted my bike to a single speed using a singlator thingy, it was just much simpler and easier to maintain as a singlespeed.
After a while, my bike was dying and I was in need of a new one. My mate was selling an old track frame and a few bits really cheap so I started to build my first fixed gear. It wasn’t the clean lines or this whole ‘one with the bike’ notion that attracted me to fixed gear, I was just offered a cheap bike so I bought it.
After I built it up I remember taking it for a spin, it felt so weird and I had no drilling for a brake so I was really sketched out. I thought that there was no way I’d be able to work on it and that stopping felt impossible. After a few hours of fucking about I started to get used to it, and it made more sense.
I rode fixed for a couple of days at work and really started to get the hang of it, one of the great things about being a messenger is that you ride all day, so you basically have unlimited practice time. Fast forward nearly 10 years and I’m still riding fixed gear bikes. I have met loads of great people, visited beautiful places, raced, drunk, chilled and talked bikes all because I like to cycle (well, and race and drink!). But it’s not only riding a fixed gear that made this happen, it would have happened whatever bike I chose to ride. I continue to meet inspiring people whether I am riding fixed, mountain bikes or BMX, this is one of the things I love about cycling.
I live in Devon which is one of the best places to ride in the UK, though it is also one of the hilliest! Some might think it’s pointless, dangerous or stupid riding fixed gear bikes on the road. It might be harder work than if I was on a road bike and it is probably ruining my knees and at times I hate it – occasionally I have a strop and chuck my bike about because I’ve either destroyed another tyre or am tired of pushing 78 inches up hills for hours! But I thrive on the challenge, it pushes me to my limits and that’s what I like about it. It’s a constant progression, a constant battle both mentally and physically. I love all types of cycling, it’s a huge part of my life though honestly fixed gear wall always be my favourite.
Here are a few snaps of Juliet Elliott and me taken by Juliet Elliott and me 🙂