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Ask a Track Bike! 

Wednesday, Sep 27 2006
And there you have it. My track bike species now starts its slow descent from avant- garde chic to common irrelevance. Disgusting. I mean, I know I've made fun of being hip, but to go back to being a mere cargo carrier of bike-messenger ass is unthinkable. I can already sense you self-conscious hipsters stowing us in your filthy garages and drafty stairwells, indefinitely.

Why the hysteria, you ask? Overexposure — scenester kryptonite. Two sources: First, this Saturday the Bicycle Film Festival (oh yes, we have a festival devoted to that, too) will screen M.A.S.H. , a documentary about fixed-gear riding in San Francisco (not the similarly titled Robert Altman/Korean War picture); and, two, Vanessa Hua's Sept. 11 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, "One Gear, Will Travel," a piece about loathsome hipsters and their equally loathsome musings on fixed-gear riding in San Francisco (not the similarly themed article you're reading right now).

Although I will try to ignore the fact that I received neither mention nor proper citation in her piece, I can admit that Hua produced a decent article that spelunks into the ninth circle of hipster hell with bravado. A few gems: "Jenny Oh ... rides a pastel blue fixie with bunny stickers on it. ... [She] works in documentary film production." Did you feel like putting your fist through a wall several times after reading that? I did. But then came my favorite: "'There's a connection with bike and the road that is almost mystical. Almost Zen-like,' said Joe Cosgrove, 45." Good lord. Who knew senior citizens were catching on to the fixie craze? Or that they could legally ride bikes? Crazy!

Well, I hope you're happy, you fucking greasy hipsters. You've turned me into nothing more than Valencia Street's version of the yellow Livestrong bracelet. If I ever see you, whether you're waiting in line at Bugaloo's or clustered together outside Bottom of the Hill smoking your Parliaments, I promise to run smack dab into you, creating a melee the likes of which you haven't seen since 45-year-olds started co-opting your aesthetics.

Now that I've got that out of my system, let's get to a question, one that concerns me deeply:

Q: Dear Ephraim,

I've been riding without handlebars for almost a month now and I just found out that I could ride on my padded top bar, making my seat obsolete, too. Can you think of any other parts I don't need?



A: Seven,

Well, other than your brain — which you seem to be getting along famously without — I can't think of any ways to strip your track bike further. What good would it do you anyway, other than make you look that much more inane? I've seen your kind, zipping up and down 24th Street atop your handlebar-free bikes, then trying to disengage yourself from other rookie fixie riders. But just because you see my kind dwindling in hipster stock, you shouldn't believe that altering your bike any further will make you look better or hipper. As Momma used to tell me, "Just because you tire of a pair of Dockers, that doesn't give you the right to peg-leg them." (No, no it doesn't. I don't care if you think the '80s are back. It's just not OK.)

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Ephraim the Track Bike


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