Alex Blomeley, veteran of fixie fixture Red Hook Crit, explains the skills needed for going fixed gear.
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1. Work on weak spots
There’s a myth that cyclists struggle to turn right on a fixie, the truth is sharp turns in general are a challenge on a fixed-gear bike. Velodromes bank so you don’t hit your pedal on the inside of the corner, but that’s a luxury you don’t have on the flat, be that in a crit race or racing to work. Finding how low you can lean through a corner is a tough learning curve. Often I purposefully lean far enough over when practicing to strike a pedal, reminding myself of where the limit is.
2. Do the checks
A major appeal of fixies is that they are fun to ride and they’re much lower maintenance than bikes where you regularly need to check gear cogs and cables. It still does pay to give your bike a regular once over, checking that nuts are tightened properly and there’s no corrosive muck on the frame, but otherwise take every opportunity to ride it and work on your techniques including track standing and retaining your balance.
3. Think ahead
When you’re riding a fixed-gear bike you’re forced to think a move or two ahead, especially when you’re cornering. You can’t stop pedalling and so the skill is to give yourself room to manoeuvre and slow things down a little. Focusing on your line is crucial, as are fast reactions. You can’t just slam on the brakes, either, so if you are in a traffic situation it really pays to look ahead and always be prepared to make adjustments on the fly.
4. Learn speed control
Hill climbs and descents on a fixed-gear bike can be a challenge — although on relatively gradual inclines it’s not as tough as you may imagine. Working on climbs and getting used to controlling the bike when you’re going downhill is a really useful exercise for newcomers. Seeking out local clubs, riders or events through social media is also an effective way of gleaning advice and knowledge of suitable local routes too.