Fixed Gear Critical Mass Bicycle Ride

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Cycling is good for a number of reasons because it is:
1. a great form of exercise
2. a good way to take in lots of fresh air
3. a pure and sustainable form of transport
4. an excellent way to experience surrounding sounds and sights at close range
5. a sport/cult that comes in many shapes, forms and sizes
6. quite a lot of fun

There are some cyclists out there who are on the purist side of this sport/cult who are celebrating cycling and how it can take us forward into a greener world. And they mostly ride the most basic of bikes: “The Fixie” or fixed gear bike.

Fixed Gear Bikes have been one of the latest big trends in cities around the world. Originating in the USA, fixed gear cycles started off as track bikes, riden around a cycle circuit in events such as the olympics and professional cycling. Renegade riders took the bikes from the professional sport and rode them everywhere and anywhere around the streets of big cities. Soon Fixed gear bikes were all the rage.

Fixed gear bikes (or fixies, single speeds, freewheelnego’s) are usually leightweight, skinny framed bikes with only a single fixed gear (hence the name). This means no free-wheeling, coasting or such and often no back brakes. Pedalling backwards means you go backwards and stop pedalling to use your back wheel as a brake. Simply put, that is fixies in a paragraph, but theres a whole lot culture brewing around it. It is kind of old school meets new school and there is a whole style specific to this cult. It is quite the opposite end of the spectrum to the road biking vibe. There is no lycra lumo clothing in sight, it is mostly low key mtb meets street skate culture. Helmets range from bmx to skate and homemade carbon fibre. Then to the bikes: new technology is used but the overall look is retro cool old school: each one custom made, leather saddles, low slung handlebars, original decals and spray jobs down to the last detail.

In Cape Town there is a small yet dedicated crew of Fixie cyclists who are flying the flag and just generally celebrating the idea of cycling for all in urban spaces. On the last Friday of each month they do a group ride around the streets of Cape Town. This has been going for 2 years already. So join them and assist in building the Critical Mass towards cycling as a form of sustainable transport.

So if you have been considering riding to work, DO IT. If you can’t because the distances are too great and the time is too little, then join these guys for a monthly ride…

Here is the report from the Editor of Fixed Gear Cape Town on the latest Critical Mass ride.

Whether it was the freakishly mild winter morning or the knowledge that Critical Mass Cape Town was celebrating its second birthday, there was a solid turnout on Friday. In spite of the early start, I arrived to see a swarm of LED lights floating in the shadows of the Baxter’s forecourt.

The usual suspects were all in attendance, and although I say it every time, it was great to see a bunch of people I’d never seen before. Same time next month, yeah?

In the past six months, the route has experienced a couple of minor variations. This month we decided to take the path of least resistance and stick to the cycle tracks where possible. This was particularly useful when negotiating the multiple lane madness that is Liebeek Parkway. Seriously, I’ve never seen motorists so eager to get to work.

For me, the part of the ride with the most local flavour is the stretch between Salt River and Woodstock. It’s not everywhere that you can zip between cars and pedestrians, and get a salutation as you pass. Love you Woodstock.

By the time we arrived at the CTICC, the original group of 12 had more than doubled in size. We took advantage of the footbridge (thanks, Sepp Blatter) and then headed on to Green Point, doing the customary laps of the traffic circles as we passed through the V&A.

At the stadium, we took a breather furiously raced around subterranean walkway before heading towards Deluxe Coffeeworks – our final stop. Unfortunately, this always involves negotiating the CBD’s traffic light hell (aka the first circle of suffering).

It was worth the wait. Deluxe Coffeeworks make the best (and cheapest) cup of coffee in town. And they’re repping FGCT. What more could you ask for?


  1. JG

    December 19, 2010

    Great reading! and some cool pics! Looks like fixies are alive and well there! Very Cool !

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