Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just a Little Patience

It was a bike commuter's worst nightmare tonight. Just as I stepped off the elevator, headed toward the locker room to change, CRACK! Serious lightning.

Now I don't go all Wicked Witch of the West when it rains. I know I'm not going to melt. But an electrical storm when I'm straddling something conductive? That's another matter entirely. So I immediately shifted to panic mode: "Get a ride from your wife, no, you'll make her late for class, ride the bus, no, they're always late when the weather's crappy, and besides, you don't want to subject the bike to front-of-bus spray, find a ride from a co-worker, crap, they're all gone already."

I'd narrowed it down to "saddle up and take your chances" when it hit me: Why do I need to leave downtown the instant I'm released from work? So I wandered the deserted Des Moines Skywalk system (a giant ant farm for humans), found a sandwich shop that -- unlike the rest of downtown -- didn't pack it in at 5:00, ate dinner, and watched the rain.
By the time I finished, got back to the locker room, and changed for my ride, the storm had blown over, and the sun was shining. Nice little reward, there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stupid Human Tricks

I just learned to skid my fixed gear!

Yeah, I know, alert the media and strike up the marching band. But even with four years of coastless riding under my belt, I'd yet to skid, other than one magic moment when a car pulled out in front of me, my reptilian brain took over, and I accidentally laid down a messenger chic rubber streak just to save my own skin. I couldn't replicate it, though -- not that I'd want to under those circumstances.

So tonight, I'm putting the finishing touches on my fixie's much-needed overhaul, tooling up and down the block to make sure everything's settled, and during a test stop, I feel what I think is my cog spinning.

I ride gingerly to the garage, crank down the lockring, and try again. Same deal. And it dawns on me: I'm SKIDDING! So I tear-arse down the block and try it again.


The magic sound of a brand new rear tire being burned up for no good reason. It was like that first time I figured out that a coaster brake's true purpose was not to stop, but rather to leave stripes of tire behind you and impress your 10-year-old buddies.

I won't be making a habit of this, since a) I value my knees, and b) I value my tires. But I confess, I did lay down some wicked skids in front of my house tonight. I even managed a couple pathetic little skip-stops. No 10-year-olds were around to see them, though.