Finding the way to a fixed gear position

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Man with a Flandria classic bike converted to a fixed gear

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Can we blame the internet for the rapid spread of the fixed wheel culture?

“I made the jump to a fixed gear because of the internet. I stumbled across the documentary about New York bike messengers and I saw it was very popular there. I started looking into the subject and found, in the centre of the city, it is really very efficient. You gain a lot of time. There are a few hills in Brussels that offer a challenge and I look at them. But you know that if you have gone up a hill once, the next time you are going to handle it. “

Photographer’s notes: There are a few really good films about fixed gear messenger cyclists, particularly New York. There is an annual race for messengers. The rules are the bikes must be fixed gear and no brakes. Some of the footage is frightening.

Some of the footage was done well before minister cameras were commonplace. In Line of Sight, Lucas Brunelle, the director/camera man (everything) strapped multiple cameras to his helmet and then showed some expertise in following the messengers as they zig-zagged traffic, intersections and random road hazards. Line of Sight link here…

Of course, the audio has been recently muted, but the trailer is also great… Line of Sight Trailer

And if you are addicted, (Rules: Fixed Gear Only; No Brakes) then this version of messenger riding in multiple cities. Bike Messenger Races

The footage has always made me smile. We can marvel at the bike handling skills of the rider, the person setting the path, while not understanding the skill that comes in being able to follow. It is like watching National Geographic films of a man scaling a cliff face and the determination shown – but failing  to understand that, right next to him, is another man onto cliff face, taking the same risk, but holding a heavy camera, obsessed with framing the image and focusing the lens. Talk about multi-tasking.

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