I’m slightly interested in velodrome racing, not because I care for fixed gear bikes so much, and certainly not because I give a crap about this whole culture suddenly surrounding these racing bikes, but because it’s another form of racing and it’s on a track, which I tend to like.
So of course I took note of the recent spike in popularity of fixed gear bikes on the streets in Barcelona and even in Italy. Not that I was unaware of this super-trend happening in the US – Basically, anything hip and underground on the West coast of the US will turn up in Europe with about a two year delay. So to see them In Barcelona meant the trend had absolutely exploded in the US.
Still, it did not prepare me for the ridiculous saturation of fixed bikes and anything related to them among the hipster culture in SoCal during my latest visit. The local velodrome, which for years featured small crowds of, well, normal people, is suddenly full of dudes sporting quasi mullets and handlebar mustaches (a real mullet would be going too far), chunky crafter chicks, and every variety of skinny, stony-faced, corduroy clad enthusiast drinking micro brews in the stands to watch their friend race, and, more importantly, check out the accessories on each others fixies they rode to the velodrome.
I think the racing, and perhaps even the bikes themselves, are merely an accessory to their own coolness for this crowd. For example, the racers seemed to be participating in more of a fashion show than actually racing, wearing things like woolly striped arm warmers (probably knitted by those same crafter girls), modified “racing” jeans, and ironic beards. And the fact that some of the racers weigh upwards of 200 pounds makes me question their dedication or even real interest in cycling for the sake of the sport. The bike itself is less important than the attitude and attire of the person on it.
I am no bike snob, but I solemnly vow to never ride a fixed gear bike on the street. Or maybe, just never ride one at all.
And you will never catch me wearing striped arm warmers.