One foot at a time | One sole at a time | One hell of a good time


Monday, April 27, 2009

Fixed Gear Bicycle Zen

Volunteer Park Seattle | photo by Don Ehlen

April 2009 has been a month of discovery...big time. I traded a Bianchi Veloce racing bike for a Fixed Gear bicycle.

As a highwheel bicycle rider for over a decade, I understand the feeling and motion of fixed gear riding...but I had never had a chance to ride a fixed gear safety bicycle. I am completely blown away. Safety bicycles have been around since the 1880s. The pneumatic tire brought a boom in sales starting around 1890 that brought us to today. Fixed geared bicycles ride like highwheels...you can't coast...(if you don't know about fixed gear bicycles and you have read this far and did not go to the Wikipedia link above, you are missing out here! You may want to read Sheldon Brown's write up on fixed gear bicycles here)

Fixed gear teaches you how to become the bicycle: You are the gear, you are the brake (for road riding, I use a front brake, but it is not as necessary as you might imagine). You learn to use your body and your technique to locomote yourself. Your body becomes strong. You become a purer, more integral part of the transference of energy into forward motion. The bike needs you as much as you need it. You become one beautiful, powerful expression of movement that is both practical and playful, art and science and human-powered speed.

I am going to be doing a lot more fixed gear riding...and turning other people on to the joy of riding a pure bicycle. Come on and join me.


PS. By the way, my FeelMax Niesas (soon to be available in the US) are excellent bicycle shoes. They work well with my Power Grip High Performance Pedal and Strap Kit.

My new fixie.
Not my best track standing, but you get the idea.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Highwheeling at Volunteer Park, Seattle, WA

Finally got my 56 inch highwheel back in commission. My goal...do an Ironman as-if it were 1890...the last big year of the highwheel bicycle, i.e., only using technology readily available in 1890.

Also, I found out today that the modern 24 hour distance record is within reach, 252 miles, set by Jamie Woodward at Mackinac Island, MI. I am thinking it might be fun to give it a shot.

However, apparently the real 24 hour record was set in 1887 by a 5' 6" 147lb rider named Stillman G. Whittaker a 19th century highwheel bicycle and early safety bicycle champion. He rode 323 miles in 24 hours on the road on his highwheel.

It turns out that the record was set by a Czech rider and highwheel bicycle builders, Josef Zimovčák, in 1996. He covered 324.67 miles (officially measured), breaking a record held for over 109 years!

Updated March 17th, 2009
It looks like in 2002 Manfred Cizek of Vienna, Austria broke Josef Zimovčák's 1996 record of 324.67 miles ridden in 24 hours. Manfred seems to have ridden 339 miles on a highwheel in 24 hours!

I am deeply intrigued by the athletes of the Victorian Age. Pushing the limits of what was possible on machines that were the cutting edge of technology. What a time.

I believe it is a better way to cycle, more comfortable, more analogous to walking or running, more upright, more human.

BFT...looking for a sponsor for his 1890 Ironman dream...


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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

60" Highwheel Bicycle: Circus Prep

Video of me riding the highwheel
This bike IS too big for me...but I still enjoyed riding it.

Borrowing Dave Moore's 60 inch highwheel bicycle

FiveFingers Sprints make good bicycle shoes
Need something to protect my feet when I jump off!

Yesterday I went out to Apple Valley to meet up with Dave Moore. He is the my guru for all things turn of the 19th century. Among many other things, Dave is famous for building bicycles, old style highwheel pennyfarthing bicycles, styled after the originals.

I own one of Dave's 56" highwheelers that he built for an Australian race. It has an very thin and lightweight 56" wheel and is amazing to ride. However, it is currently out-of-commission, so Dave is loaning me this massive 60" highwheel bicycle.

Two reasons why I am riding again:

1. I still want to complete an IronMan race as-if it were 1890, using technology and techniques that would have been available in that era, the era just before pneumatic tires and the modern bicycle.

2. My daughter and I hope to perform in an upcoming performance of Seussical a Broadway musical inspired by Dr. Seuss being performed by Showcamp.


My Neighbors Entertained.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

How to transport a Highwheel Bicycle

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Athlete of 1890: a study

The Athlete of 1890: a study

I have been exploring the world of late 19th century athletes, focusing on swimmers, cyclists and runners.

I want to imagine what it would be like to time-travel from 1890 to today and compete in a modern Ironman using the equipment and methods of a sportsman of the Victorian Era.

In order to achieve this goal, I have been studying up on the habits and achievements of our athletic forefathers.

I picked 1890 primarily because it represents the last year of the Highwheel bicycle otherwise known as the Ordinary bicycle as opposed to the now extremely familiar Safety bicycle.


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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Barefoot Bicycling

I really need to add all the different photos of me riding highwheelers barefoot.

Here's one.

More to follow.

Best, Barefoot Ted

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