Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Fixie..

I think Ted might have me confused with someone else in that introduction, but I do indeed have a Peugeot PX10 fixie. It's actually a mid 80's Super Competition PX10, which has the odd combination of a french headset but standard BB.

I built it as a city bike that I could feel ok leaving locked up places. My mountain bike being far too glitzy and my road bike just feeling too.. well.. racy? I don't know, never been a fan of race bikes anyways, and I suppose the fixie itch had lingered too long without scratching.

I'm French. I grew up there as a kid, and my father was a full blooded, send the wine back it's crap, French man that shaped me despite his passing away when I was young. I remember in France we had a few Peugeots that we rode everywhere, and my father's was I'm fairly certain a white PX10. We actually moved those bikes to the states, but in my rebellious youth of mountain biking I didn't realize what I had and I think we ended up giving them away at a garage sale. Oh the folly of childhood.

Fast forward ten years and I spend a really rather obscene amount of money building this bike up from scratch. It pains me to say that in the end I poured about $600 into it. This was supposed to be the cheap city bike after all, but a few mistakes here and there (I didn't realize the BB was standard and ordered a Phil wood french BB at a pretty penny) and a general resistance towards having anything outright cheap on it made it pricey in the end.

Fixies are something else. At the same time insane and romantic. I remember soberly reading Sheldon Brown's page on the possible injuries that come from having no freewheel, the disasters of catching a shoelace, a pant leg, the loss of fingers while cleaning the chain.. Despite many many years on bikes doing crazy things I still give SuperVelo his proper respect. I still have a front brake, though challenge myself not to use it, I always roll up my pant leg, I stay in control on the hills.

Just before leaving for Costa Rica (where I am now, more on the bikes here in another post) I had the most tragic of accidents. I had ridden downtown to meet my girlfriend at Outdoor Research to gear up for the ski season. We then headed over in her car to Feathered Friends for their yearly fund raiser for the Avalanche Center and decided to just park at REI. Sadly, we both forgot about SuperVelo on the roof.

The damage was swift but non fatal. The bike was mounted standing up backwards so the seat stays took the damage. One took the brunt of it and bent a bit, but the bike still rides fine, I'm not even sure the wheel base is affected. It broke my heart, this bike more than any other was a real love of mine, it was as if my best friend just lost a leg, still my friend but not the same. My perfectionist side will always nag me to find a replacement frame, but I'll hold out for as long as I can.

There's something about vintage frames that is special, especially frames that in their day were some of the best. You can just imagine the lives they've lived, the races won and lost, smiles brought upon their owners. New bikes let you shape them into something new, but old bikes come with a character all their own.

Maybe SuperVelo just has a bit more of that now, a fuller life, a scar to show off to his buddies when he goes to the great bike yard in the sky.


Ted Diamond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted Diamond said...

Mon âme se lance vers le néant. (translation: "Say it ain't so, Nic!")

SuperVélo is Albert Camus, Jacques Brel (OK, he wasn't French, but still...), and Claude Rains, all rolled in to one. It has the weary wisdom of the world brazed into those lugs. SuperVélo never lights a cigarette without lighting one for la femme, as well.

That SuperVélo was wounded in a confrontation with REI is nothing less than emblematic of the sterility of our times, the death of the modern spirit, and out of the ashes of this epic confrontation will rise...fils de SuperVélo!

Ted Diamond said...

Sometimes, if I really hate a bike, I'll subconsciously "forget" that it's on the roof. I did something nearly like this just after I moved to Seattle, in 2000.

I had just recently bought a used Cannondale R300, and since it was a big step up from the steel (Columbus Aelle -- bottom of the line) 3x6 beater with which I'd had a lot of success the previous season, I expected great things. Aluminum, 2x8 -- I should have been floating up the hills. In reality, the bike felt like a dead aluminum can. It just never felt right.

So one day, after a team ride, I put the bike on the roof rack down at Pert's, and headed across I-90 to Mercer Island to pick up my daughter. Halfway across the floating bridge, I see this ... thing ... in my rear view mirror, floating in slow motion, down onto the roadway. It took a full second to register that it was my bike. I had forgotten to strap down the wheels on the rack.

The good -- very good -- news was that everyone behind me managed to stop in time, and there were no collisions. (If there is one piece of great luck for which I am eternally grateful, this is it).

The bad news was that the bike survived.

Nic Pottier said...

Hah, believe it or not, on my third or fourth date with Joya, we decided to go ride Tiger Mountain with her friends.

So on goes my Santa Cruz Superlight onto her truck. Another bike I have a real affection for, sure the suspension design is a decade old, but it still rides like no other in the middle, especially with a five inch fork up front. (shhh, don't tell Santa Cruz)

Anyways, we are cruising down I90, when suddenly Joya lets out a blood curdling scream. I thought she saw Seattle go up in a mushroom cloud in the rear view mirror or something.

Sadly, it was just my Superlight bouncing down the highway. Somehow or another, it managed to bounce off into the curb, and somehow it went undamaged and didn't cause anyone to be killed.

Come to think of it, maybe Joya has a jealousy issue with my bikes.. that's two attempted cyclocides.

joya said...

Look, it wasn't the bike. I have no animosity for a bike. I mean, what did the steal Frenchy frame do to me? It was just the way he, Nic, looked at it. Made me feel like a scrap metal Schwinn in comparison. Take my banana seat and shove it-cuz you ain't riding this!

In all seriousness, there's a reason that four years ago I chose a backloading rack for my truck -- I knew that, in the midst of a Justin Timberlake sing-along-fest, I'd be transported to another time and place and forget the beautiful bikes straped to my car. It was sorta this re-occurring nightmare I've had. Snapping expensive bikes off my rack in parking garages and "drive-up" windows and low bridges. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and got the backloader (or "The Impaler", as my parallel parking neighbors affectionately call it when they give it a nudge now and then). But alas, after four year of perfectly safe bike history prior to meeting Nic --nothing [Nothing!] could have prevented the white blur of Nic's mt bike bounding down I-90 [the first cyclocide].

I trade the truck for fuel efficient hatchback...and a top rack. And what do you know? The first time Nic mounts his bike to my rack, things go awry! [the second cyclocide]

Now I ask you, was it really me? Was it pure dumb luck? Or was it Nic, looking for sympathy and bike-love while framing his sweet, naive new girlfriend? He can't deny I was shaking with terror, afterwards, at the thought of the destroyed bike. I begged him to break up with me then. But no, he hugged me close, he'd rather tease me in front of his friends than break up with me!

What comes next then--Maybe it's time we took a closer look at his motives?

Or maybe it's just time we forgive past transgressions or simply surrender (as the French, and their bikes, are so prone to do! Viva la Lance!)

Or maybe it's time for a big group hug, in the form of a big group ride -- bring your favorite bikes, I'll drive! ;)

Ted Diamond said...

Say what you will about the French --they have isolated the fundamental particle of non-meaning: fa. As in fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa, cycle-killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Joya, beware of Nic. He thinks nothing of manipulating other people into doing things for his amusement. Once, I came to my senses atop my bike, which was on top of a roof rack, with Nic driving hell bent for leather for the REI garage. He is a cyclepath.

À tout à l'heure -- maintenant, je me lance vers la gloire, OK.