I’ve been going on a fixed wheel bike in Rome since the 31st of October 2003, night of the witches for some, and since the 3rd of November without any kind of mechanical braking system. All Romans know the traffic of their city. Others can barely imagine it: cars everywhere, no respect for anything unless anything may harm them. This is the situation. I go around like that: on a bike, with no brakes.
The first few days anything could happen: for the sole reason of me using a bike. I don’t have brakes because my bike was built using track pieces, the back wheel is fixed and the pedals are always in movement: I don’t brake I slow down, using the strength of my legs. This would lead to awkward situations in the general tendency of traffic: I chose to move in a sinuous and circumflex way, trying to be in harmony with the territory and it’s components in order to avoid hurting myself, I would then find myself having to deal with these youngsters in their cars who are always in a supernatural rush, men and women pushing forwards with their body folded on the steering wheel, chauffeurs bringing around empty rentable cars, various examples of busy humanity. My first crash happened when a man suddenly changed lane and I had to dodge by jumping on a side lawn; no damage. The second, and for the moment last crash, trying to dodge at nigh time my drunk friend riding her bike in front of me: I hit a kerbstone and bent my bicycle frame, which I fixed the next day with a hammer, swearing randomly my friends name because I was as drunk as she was.
Know the unexpected is expected. I realised that the unexpected obstacle is really due to our own distraction.
I will go slow or fast, depending on my muscular force which I also use as my natural brakes.
It seems to be more normal, more humane and most of all far more beautiful.
31st October 2005
Update: now I no longer only use the strength in my legs. I learnt, on my own account and thanks to the suggestions and advices from the “pistard” of some time ago. Incredibly efficient techniques. Now the “fixa” has become so normal for me that when I have to go on a normal bike I get bored and tired.
It’s with pride that I can say I haven’t had an accident since my second one.
I will try and get improve.
Happy birthday Iron&Wine, my love.