This blog is courtesy of A. Danger (@adangerpdx). Check out her Instagram for what might be the most comprehensive collection of fixed gear photography.
Years of questing for the perfect, low-pro bike travel setup finally landed me with the Airport Ninja. The bag streamlines traveling with a bike while triumphantly evading barbaric bike fees. Having the bike on my back and therefore my hands free is liberating! A brakeless fixed gear rig could be packed in 15 minutes, and unpacked and reassembled in half that time. One month, fourteen builds/unbuilds and every possible mode of travel, the bag kept my bike and components triple tight.
The craft in city riding is honing the ability to spot and claim the Spaces-In-Between. Spots between the cars, buses and scooters open and close continually as we all find our line in a civilized but competitive sport of gaining ground and advantage between traffic lights. Optimizing one’s path is unapologetically free-form in Paris, but people keep to themselves, stay calm, civilized and hook into the flow where they can.
A fixed gear street rig was ideal for the quick moves, fast starts and ability to quickly scrub speed and slide into narrow spots. 47x17 gearing, vintage, aluminum track frameset, vibrant, handbuilt track wheels, pedals with cages and some parts-bin bars and seatpost. Sixteen pounds built. My unfashionably 90’s narrow riser bars served me well. The fixed-gear, wide-bar trend du jour would hang you up on every car mirror and scooter pannier in Paris.
No motor vehicles on the cycling path along the Seine, but plenty of up-close view of Paris’ low-slung bridges. Bir-Hakeim cycling path has a killer and lesser known view of the Eiffel Tower. You’ll also spot the post-fire, distressed Notre Dame Cathedral, propped up with falsework, shims and ratchet-straps!
A worthy lunch destination spot is the tucked-away Marche des Enfant Rouges with their multiple food stalls and restaurants. A different day, caught hungry in the Marais for lunch and spotted a line of people spilling out the door of a tiny spot called Miznon. Had no idea what they offered but jumped in, and lucked out with the best lamb pita of my life. Their roasted cauliflower with tahini is worth crossing town for.
Once a year, Paris closes it’s streets to cars for a day: Paris Sans Voitures. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to experience Parisian streets typically dominated by vehicles, surrounded only by bicycles and pedestrians. If you’ve ever witnessed the Champs-Élysées during rush hour, you understand the gravity of this opportunity.
Embracing the suck of jet lag offered the most memorable moments biking in Paris. Up before the sun, sharing the road with only a few delivery vehicles, breathing in the smell of pain au chocolat and croissants baking, streets glowing from the light of the many monuments as you ride to watch the sun come up over the Louvre’s pyramids, or the Eiffel Tower. The view will be nearly yours alone. It makes a city intimidating in it’s history, culture and imposing infrastructure feel downright personal.