This is where it goes

About Fixed Gears

Editor's note: Who wrote this?

Below are excerpts, relevant to track bikes, of fixed-gear article that appeared on the website some years ago. That article is no longer there, and I have found no contact information for making inquiries. Any help identifying the author of this article will be appreciated. Thanks to Ben Sanford for suggesting it.
As with so many of life's more worthy pursuits, one must strip away modern conveniences to come face-to-face with the fundamentals. So it is with bicycle pedaling. Modern bike transmissions, with their multitude of gear choices, freewheels, and rapid shifting can be an impediment to learning to pedal smoothly. Smooth pedaling is the core of efficient cycling and every rider strives to improve his style throughout an entire career of riding.
How do you learn to pedal smoothly? Traditionally, technique was passed to each succeeding generation through a combination of fixed gear riding and the example of more experienced pedalers. Truly expert, classical pedalers are rare these days. There are too few to lead rides on which beginners can absorb the finesse and elegance of a smooth, balanced pedal stroke.
But no fear! Fixed gear riding can a help any rider develop his pedaling. It is simple and cheap. Many professionals put in important fixed gear miles at the beginning of each season. The sooner you start a fixed gear practice, the better.
What's to Gain?
Take a ride and notice how different your bike feels! Keep your spin moderate and don't go a great distance. Observe how riding without coasting is so much more of a workout. This will enable you to get exercise in a shorter time.
Avoid big hills to start. With some practice you will learn how to lug a fixed gear effectively. More body english, a rounder pedal force, and persuasive rhythm are all elements to climbing without muscle strain.
As your confidence grows you will be acquiring finesse without any concentration. Your legs are recalibrating and learning to pedal circles not just lumpy down strokes. When the bike is going too slowly and your rpm's are low you will learn how to exert force through all 360 degrees of the pedal path. Otherwise the down stroke would have to be excessive and unfriendly to your knees. When the bike is going too briskly for your taste you will learn how to "float" around the pedals so your butt doesn't bounce all over the saddle.
Float is the Goal
"Float" is the Zen-like state of soft pedalling which a distinguishes a true master. On the road, few riders have it. Most track riders acquire it through fixed gear pedalling. It is the primary means to avoid injury and sustain impressive effort. It is the tool heart throbs like Fausto Coppi and Jacques Anquetil used to captivate their eras. A truly smooth pedal stroke is a thing of great beauty as much as Edwin Moses on the high hurdles or Eric Heiden on skates. Riding fixed gear is your surest way to develop that talent and have great fun to boot.
Now, back to the 90's
Fully half of the fun is switching back to your regular set up. You'll notice a few very desirable changes:
  1. Your pedalling power curve is much broader, you can generate impressive power at many different spin rates. You'll be able to use this to great effect in racing. You'll have more options for everyday riding as you shift less and use a greater variety of tempos to get there.

  2. Your friends will remark how smooth and turbine-like you seem. New acquaintances will assume you have been racing and riding for decades.

  3. You will be faster and more flexible than ever.

  4. You will be recommending your techniques to newcomers and help pass on the wisdom.

  5. Even though you have the option to stop pedaling and coast, you'll use it less. The more your legs spin, the further and faster you go. And when you are fatigued an effortless, floating spin is the best recovery because it maintains a healthy blood flow to purge tired muscles of lactic acid and return oxygen where it is needed.
© unknown, 2003

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