The Fixie Allure and, A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’ve hung around the ol’ TTP blog for long, you’ve inevitably heard me drone-on (and on and on…) about my beloved fixie.  What’s the allure, you ask — I mean, Chrissakes, it’s just a friggin’ bicycle, right?

Au contraire, my good friend; the fixie is to cycling, as Vibrams are to running.  You don’t so much ride a fixie as you tango with it; jockey, machine, and environment all inextricably connected in the dance.  And as an added bonus, the fixie, by it’s very nature, screams of mixed-intensity bursts of exertion — commonly referred to in the parlance of physical culture as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).   Looking for a primal cycling experience?  Look no further than the fixed-speed bicycle.  Short, intermittent bursts of high power output interspersed with longer bursts of moderate-level power output, starts, stops; all chaos, all fractal in nature.  Very primal.

So that’s an experienced rider’s take.  Want a newbie’s impression of the fixie experience?  Here’s an informative fixie article, from Mary Buckheit, of ESPN.com.

“…for those keeping score at home, that’s one bike, one gear, one brake (if any)…”
– Mary Buckheit, ESPN.com

And hey, check this out — it’s so much fun, even Lance Armstrong loves a fixie  🙂  Saddle one up, and you’ll be forever changed.

Nothing can really impart to you the unique fixie feel, short of actually climbing on board and taking one for a spin.  The following clip, though, does a good job of portraying the essence and fun-loving spirit of the fixie experience.  Notice the plug near the end (beneath the bill of one of the rider’s cap) for Mellow Johnny’s — is it safe yet to call Mellow Johnny’s an Austin institution?  Well, how ’bout we just say that it’s my favorite Austin bike shop, and leave it at that?

Oh yeah, and one of my favorite fixie porn sites, here.

A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

Fixie, Vibrams, a sled and an open field; this is gonna be good!

So the theme for this past weekend was many, many, many short HIIT bursts, from Friday evening until Sunday night.  Friday after work I sprinted (fixie, that is — Vibram sprints came later in the weekend) to the coffee shop, read for a while (Einstein’s God — fantastic read, by the way), then from there to a friend’s house for dinner (low country boil!), then from there, back home again (night time riding!).  Saturday and Sunday was much the same — I dare say I racked-up a good 15 rides (15 to 30 minutes or so a pop).  I also performed plenty of barefooted sprints and variety of of sled pulls and drags over the weekend as well.  I can’t really quantify any of this other than to say, again, it was all done in short bursts of high-intensity effort, followed by full recovery.  It was a weekend full of high-intensity, active play.

The one thing I can quantify was a Saturday gym session (following a barefooted sprint session) that shaped-up like this:

behind the neck (barbell) push-press: 135 x 5; 165 x 4; 185 x 3; 195 x 1, 1, 1, 1
straight bar muscle-ups: x 3, each of 7 total rounds

Couple of notes: all that lower body work really put the hurt on my push-press numbers.  Think the push-press is a shoulder dominant exercise?  Think again.  See what your push-press (jerks, too) numbers look like following a hip-dominant blitz.  It’ll feel like you’re pushing/jerking out of loose-packed sand.  Also, if you’re planning a bike-to-sprint (running) combo, remember to properly transition by doing some hip mobility and glute-activating movements prior to running.  Get that posterior chain revved-up or you’ll end-up running like a drunk initially — or worse yet, pull a ham string.  Biking is a highly quad-dominant endeavor and in no way prepares one for PC dominant work.  Biking will rev your core temperature, no doubt — so in that respect, it is a good “warm-up” activity — biking does nothing, however, to prime the PC for running sprints.

Today is most definitely a rest day 🙂

…ok, maybe a little bit of riding 🙂  Gotta feed the fixie jones.  Be forewarned, fixie riding is a serious addiction.

In health,
Keith

11 responses to “The Fixie Allure and, A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

    • Yes, I like the brake hoods for hand positioning and leverage. I do ride with a front “bail-out” brake, though. Call it age and wisdom trumping any want to be labeled a “purist” 🙂

      And yeah, fixedgeargallery is a fab fixie porn site as well — it’s gobbled-up plenty of my non-riding time 🙂

  1. Hmmmm…. fixie love. I’ve spent a few years down the velodrome watching the mixture of pure speed, adrenalin, and terror that goes with track racing. A sprint rider I coached made it into the New Zealand squad and I was priviledged enough to watch some of our top riders… watching a rider chase a motorbike around the ‘drome at 80kph on steep banking – insane.

    Try to combine your next fixie/caffeine fix with the following website: fyxomatosis.com

    To whet your appetite: http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/cgi/gallerypicget.asp?pic=http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/photos/babes/babes10/otbf-fyxo.jpg

    • Yep, it’s an old Vetta, mounted atop a thudbuster. Maybe your saddle is set too high? Make sure you maintain adequate knee angle at the bottom of your stroke.

  2. Watched a bit of that Lance Armstrong video and… is it necessary to cycle like an arsehole if you have a fixie? Maybe it’s a difference in road rules but certainly cutting through traffic across intersections and cutting in front of cars won’t make you many friends around here. As a regular cyclist I really don’t want other cyclists acting like jerks and pissing off car drivers, who may then decide to take it out on me. The little abuse I get from drivers is enough already thanks!

    • Personally, I operate on the mass-to-right-of-way theory; I don’t tempt fate. Biking in traffic is dangerous enough as it is, and so I ride as if I were invisible to drivers. Guilty as charged, though, in being thoroughly amused by watching the antics of the messenger (and their ilk) crowd.

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