One of the greatest things about riding fixed is the chance to talk to old men on the street, they absolutely love to see us young guys and gals riding fixed gear bikes. When I first started riding Evs kept asking me whether any old men had stopped to chat to me yet and they didn’t for ages and I felt like I was missing out on something but then one day it happened. “Fixed wheel is it?” is the usual introductory line from the old chaps and it often leads on to pretty lengthy conversations about all the adventures that they got up to back in the 50’s or so, this is one of my favourites…
I came out of TK Maxx to find a guy taking a picture of my bike on his mobile phone, he said it was to send to his son to show him that he had seen a bike like the ones he used to ride when he was younger. He went on to tell me about how he had seen a beautiful dark green track bike in the window of a bicycle shop in Morriston when he was a teenager but his parents couldn’t afford to buy it for him. He took on a paper round and started saving as much money as he could, eventually he was able to buy it. One common topic during these chats is about the huge distances these guys used to do on a daily basis like it was nothing. This chap would regularly leave home in the morning and cycle from Swansea to Cardiff, a journey of about 45 miles, he would then race all day long at Maindy Velodrome before cycling back home to Swansea! This wasn’t a “one time I rode all the way to Cardiff, raced, then rode home” story, this was something that he did on a regular basis. Riding 45 miles is no big deal, but riding 90 miles on a mid 80’s GI with hours of track racing in between is bonkers.
My most recent interaction of this kind was about two weeks ago when I was riding home and I spotted an old guy of about 80 or so across the road stop in his tracks and slowly and unsurely make a thumbs up with his hand, he watched me as I went passed then lifted up his thumb and shouted “FIXED WHEEL!”, I looked around, shouted “YEAAAAAAH!” and gave him a thumbs up back. I wish I had stopped for a chat with him, he was so happy and clearly excited by the sight of a young guy like myself riding a fixed gear. I think it’s a real privilege to be involved in something that enables us to talk on the same level with old people because I’m only 29 and I despair when I look at teenagers these days, for pensioners looking at a group of emo kids must be like looking directly into the bowels of hell. I like to think that we give them a little faith in the youth and send them off with a smile on their faces.
I’m sure you all have similar stories to these, pretty please share them in the comments below because I would absolutely love to hear them!