“The open class suits me well,” Johnson says. “It’s a challenge, but in the world of XC racing we are climbing fast and strong all the time.”
When asked if he would do it on a fixed-gear bike, Johnson didn’t utter words.
“It looks…seems hard.”
However, there were dozens of casual riders from the local fixie scene, charging hill with wild abandon three or even four times throughout the day, clearly having a blast doing so. I couldn’t align my NDE experience with what I was seeing.
“People with stationary equipment come here just to have a good time and be involved,” Grady says. “Fixed gear culture is a lot different than the road scene. They’re people hanging out sipping beer and cheering each other on. If road racing is classical music, then fixed gear is punk rock. It’s the middle finger of the enterprise, and in this case, road racing is the enterprise.”
However, the Red Bull Bay Climb is about relaxation, variety, and coming as you are as you can ask, and for me, it was an important experience. Against all odds, I made that damn hill, and I had the fixed gear community in my back cheering me on the whole time. Reaching that finish line in last place was an achievement, and while I was nearly unconscious and ready to vomit, the enthusiasm of the community was contagious.
I spent the rest of the day recovering, which is my way of saying “track down beer and ibuprofen”. Fortunately both were in abundance, and both were freely shared in the spirit of the community. These are my kind of people, and they can be yours, too.