Monday, August 11, 2008

The Chi-town Hustle

Took a trip to Chicago last week to have some time with my family and act like we are hip metropolitan coolcats. At least that's my take on it. Mostly we went because it was the most interesting place we could find that was directly East of us. One year we went to Duluth (North) then we went to the Black Hills (West) then to Branson (South) so what else were we going to do? I felt like a kid whenever we got close to downtown. Kelli hated it because she is a lilly-livered scaredy cat, and mother. I just got such a rush from all of the traffic, people, buildings, buses, and BIKES!!!! I had a minute or twenty while we were waiting for the free trolley so I walked to a bike rack and shot some bikes that were locked up. This is just one rack mind you, in a city of about 3 million people? I saw a real side to biking that I had never had a chance to experience before. I had my notion of bike messengers turned on it's ass, and saw so many lines through traffic that I would have ridden with a huge goonlike grin on my mug all day long. I was shocked that almost all of the messengers I saw were riding with a freewheel/front brake setup. This blew me away because I have spent so much time looking at all of the bikes on fgg, (I have seen every one of them) that I foolishly bought all of the B.S. that the posters there put in their writeups! You guys are full of it if you think that your pretty little spotless fixies make you something of a street rider. Crazy! Pretty bikes are for pretty boys, and don't you look cute in your Army-surplus coat and cuffed capri girl-jeans. Wow, weird that all of the messengers didn't have any RayBan Huey Lewis-era shades on as they went about their workday! Not that I have to worry, nobody will ever mistake me for cool, so no biggie right?! It was cool though to be standing or walking along and see a set of bars coming up the street with no brake hoods, then check for a front brake, then try to make out the bike brand, and call out, "YO! Fixed or free?" and have them just look at me with a totally blank face. They're like, "What the F are you talking about?" It would be like me walking down the street with a carpet sample in my hand, and some soccer mom drives by, hoists her Starbucks cup that she refills with her own home-brewed coffee, and yells out the window of her Sedona, "Berber or Saxony?!" I don't think I would have the wits about me to respond. The sad thing is, there are people out there like that! Here are some of the bikes that I saw in one quick minute of geeking:

My best guess on this one is that it's a NYC Fixed of some kind. I say that for a couple of reasons. One, it has no graphics. Two, it has a one piece crank. And C, the seat post is just a pin. No head integrated into it. It has a clamp like a department store bike. Nice though, I'd take it.
Nice clean Steamroller.
Motobecane gettin' some love with the bullhorns, and check out the ghetto singlespeed! With plastic pie plate! Respect!
An older Miyata. Running the free side of a flipflop hub. I'd take this one too.
This old raleigh looks like it could be one of my bikes! Another ghetto singlespeed, coral colored 2.1 tires, and I know you saw the bars first! Not the most ergo lever setup, but undoubtedly a workman's bike. Guess whether I would take it or not.
Fuji Gran Tour running freewheel with full brakes. Spartan but comfy. Nice.

There were a few off-the-rack fixed/freewheel bikes locked up too. This Giant is the only one worth posting though. Love the geometry and proportions on it. Plus anything army green is cool. Among the other "bought bikes" were a Cannondale Capo, a Raleigh Rush Hour, and a Schwinn Madison. There was a metric crapload of old old Schwinns in the racks around town. Duh, it is Chicago after all. I felt like a person with hoarding tendencies when I had the anxious rush to want to save them all!

Another vacation where I find myself wishing to be on a bike, and having no bike at hand. When will I ever learn? I would love to go to Osceola with my bike and enough cash for a ticket to Union Station, take Amtrak into Chi-town, ride all damn day in the traffic, and just go nuckin' futs and have fun! It would be worth it. Bounce back here soon for my delusional fantasy post about what it would take to messenger in Des Moines for a day. Later! Travel Gravel!

11 comments:

Carney said...

"Pretty bikes are for pretty boys"

Awesome!!!

One of my old bosses was a messenger in DC for awhile...and man does he have some horror stories! But hey...I'd still do it!

Paul said...

Love this post!

bluecolnago said...

great post! sounds like you had a blast! makes me want a ss road bike....

Travel Gravel said...

Only a great post because it was a great time. We really did enjoy our time there. The only cyclist who even remotely got my fixed/free question was this Asian guy with full sleeve tatts who took his feet off of the pedals for a moment and let the cranks turn over a few times, then gave me the "hang loose" fingers and rolled around the corner. That made my day!

Cheerleader said...

Sounds like you had a FAB time in the Windy City--maybe you could start up a bike messager service in the Train Town? We've got one in the Watertown for law offices. Okay, he's on a Harley ;-P
LOVE the Windy City but wouldn't want to live there. How much did Kelli want to splurge on the Miracle Mile? Later

Cameron said...

Here in Chicago you don't see very many fixed gears. I would say the lion's share of bikes I see are old ten speeds (of course I could be bias) or SS conversions. There are a ton of GhettoSingles here too. In fact, my train station commuter is a sweet yellow 24" Magna GhettoSingle MTB. You can bet I look like a badass trackstanding that thing at the lights and sporting my Wayfarers of course.

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Nice Post! I do happen to have one of those pretty fixing bikes though. Set of Phil's laced to some colorful rims. And you know my baby cruises. Hopefully I can get you a test run this summer. Sometime in early August?

Travel Gravel said...

Matt, any bike is cool, you know that! If I had a pair of white Rubinos though, I would never want for anything else in this world! Trendy yes, killer looking yesser! White tires on purple rims, yessest! Later Brosif!

Travel Gravel said...

Cameron, I mean nobody any ill will, please believe me. I have no cred with anybody who is cool. I must have read too much Bike Snob before posting this one! You're lucky to have such a cool place to ride. I just about forgot I was on a trip with my family and started to drift into bike stupidity mode! The scene in the 4th comment down(mine) was so cool I still replay it in my head. Later!

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