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01/12/2010: "Cheap Fixies Redux"
Rode to Hermosa Beach for a meeting Sunday--not that I need much incentive to ride to the beach in Southern California!--and rode to South Pasadena Monday (in stead of my usual Tuesday, because Chuck's schedule had changed this week). About forty miles each time, one a weekend day, one a work day, and two things stood out to me again this week:
  1. How many people were out riding bicycles, not just to promenade but evidently to go someplace.
  2. How many of those many people were riding the notorious Cheap Neon Fixie!
I perhaps am harping on the matter a bit, but I hear so much scorn and derision directed towards those simple Taiwan Specials that I feel compelled to put forth a contrary opinion.

These bikes--these simple little welded frames from all those online retailers whose ads are probably showing right now next to this blog entry--are a Wonderful Thing. People are riding them who would not have thought to ride a bike before. Not only that, people are riding them in part because they are simple--and this represents a huge change in perceptions: for decades, cars, entertainment, housing, all life in the US has been trending towards greater and greater complication and bulk in the name of consumerist status seeking, Indeed, I believe it is this emphasis on display and ostentatious complication that played a part in the decline of the bicycle's status as a mode of transport.

And now people, all sorts of people, from the gritty to the slick, are not only riding bicycles, but riding the simplest possible bicycles, and praising that very simplicity as a status symbol!

It's one thing to say my bicycle (or car, or boat, or whatever) is "better" because it does everything for me, and quite another to say that my fixie is "better" because it burdens me less and expands my capabilities.

A return to self-reliance, to economy, and in many ways to community--fixie riders rambling about at midnight together, in great happy hordes!

This is a portent of Good Things to come--I really think so.

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