Author Topic: Freewheeling Manifesto


Freewheeling Manifesto
« on: May 24, 2015 »
Is a freewheeling manifesto necessary? As the rider of an unfixed, some would mistakenly say broken singlespeed, I think so! The main problem with manifestos is they're often very wordy and people get bored before they know why they're supposed to be revolting.

Ever since Sheldon Brown described coasting as a "pernicious habit", a significant minority of cyclists have taken him seriously. These cyclists ride bikes which can't coast because they've had the fun removed. (The fun is located in the rear hub.) Everybody else, from the Flintstones to Ma Walton, knows that coasting is why bikes were invented; if early models couldn't coast, it's simply because technology was a bit slow to catch up with its promise.

Fixed gear riders will secretly acknowledge the truth of the following statement:

Pedalling is the lazy man's coasting.

Think about it. (Just not too hard, or it will make your head hurt.) When you're riding fixed there is no element of free will: you pedal or die, much like sharks. This is "fun" in the same way galley slaves regarded rowing as "a lark".

Also, it's easy. How can I say this when pedalling, especially non-stop-pedalling, especially non-stop-pedalling-at-150rpm-down-a-hill-like-there's-no-tomorrow because-indeed-there-may-not-be can seem so hard? Because you have no choice. Your legs are only doing what they must to keep the pedals from breaking your kneecaps. That's some fearsome fun!

What I mean when I say pedalling is the lazy man's coasting is that riding fixed in the above horrifying scenerio is accomplished by relaxing the legs in question and, in effect, ceding control of them to the bicycle. True fixe artistes soon learn to disconnect all motor control below their waist. Ergo their "laziness", which is not meant as a slur but merely as the most accurate descriptor of the state of locomotion without conscious effort. While it's true that theoretically they put in effort to climb the hill in the first place, everybody knows that the fixed drivetrain is the only true example of perpetual motion in the world, each turn of the cranks powering the next, again no effort required.

Freewheeling, on the other hand, requires a continuous series of decisions to do something rather than nothing, else progress eventually ceases. Not only is it very philosophical, it's far more zen than fixed could ever hope to be. Each and every pedal stroke is a command from the brain that the legs are free to disregard whenever it suits them – which could happen at any moment. Therefore coasting, which at first blush appears to be rather indolent (or pernicious as some would have it), is the always temporary state of repose between sweaty mental gymnastics. Think of that galley slave being whipped; that's the brain talking to the legs of a free man. Does that sound remotely lazy?

If none of the foregoing convinces you, ask yourself, do you really want this to be your end stage?

Tour de France originator Henri Desgrange

“I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft. Come on, fellows. Let's say that the test was a fine demonstration--for our grandparents! As for me, give me a fixed gear!"

“Hope I die before I get old," he added.

It has just occurred to me that a manifesto is a declaration of policy and aims. The former is so easy it hardly requires a declaration: policy is freewheeling. As for aims:

• to educate the masses
• to gain political influence
• to force a referendum
• to destroy all copies of "can't stop, don't want to" Premium Rush
• if we're lucky, to be parodied by Armando Iannucci

Remember: fixed = broken


Don't break it like Beckham
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2017 »
It has belatedly come to my attention that Brooklyn Beckham rides fixed, and is therefore a potential recruit to the freewheeling cause. If only I can get his publicist, or better yet influential girlfriend, to pass this along; a celebrity endorsement could really get people to think.


Está loca
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2020 »

I'd never do that!
Without gloves.