Monday, January 25, 2010

Lord of the Chain-rings: Fellowship of the Fixie

As predicted, my ride on Saturday found me in the midst of a steady downpour of ice-cold rain 20 miles south of town.  I was so cold after that ride, that the GEEC and I went to Schnucks to buy ingredients for some potato and leek soup.  While there, however, we had a Lord of the Rings (LOTR) encounter.  Such moments do not happen frequently, and the last one I had was when I encountered a client at work this past summer who was wearing flip flops which revealed feet hairier than Sam Gamgee's.

This encounter was entirely different though and involved the GEEC and I seeing Boromir and Aragon buying some pork chops at the Schnuck's meat counter.  Thankfully, the GEEC had her camera with her and was able to snap a couple of paparazzi-style photos of the two LOTR warriors stocking up on much-needed provisions for their long journey ahead.  Godspeed, you two.  May your blades taste the blood of many orcs....

But Sunday's sunshine more than made up for Saturday's rain, and I might have actually made a little Vitamin D for the first time in weeks as I rode.  I don't make a habit of it, but while riding this weekend, I had my ipod with me.  I know it's unsafe, and as a general rule of thumb, I would prefer to listen to the sweet sounds of nature while I ride.  It's when those sounds are muffled by the relentless creaking of my carbon frame reminding me of the thick layer of blubber I've added over the winter that I start to contemplate drowning out the sound with some Jane's Addiction, much as I would crank the car radio to mask the roaring sound that the hole in my muffler causes.  And I must admit, I cannot deny the ironic effect of Perry Farrell telling me to "Stop" that makes me want to "Go!" which comes in quite handy when the headwind is coming out of the NW at 20 mph.  And let's face it, even in the absence of real music, who amongst us doesn't have an internal soundtrack playing while we are riding, as though we were in some Rapha ad, where all the roads are cobbled and precipitous and in grainy black and white.

You can practically hear Carmina Burana if you stare at this picture for any length of time.

Music piped through ipod ear buds, or coming from one's internal soundsystem seems to be a reasonable method by which to seek musical inspiration.  Apparently, this is not sufficient for some cyclists, however, who must take part in the act of having themselves filmed while riding and overlay this footage with some kind of soundtrack, marketing the final product as a "documentary".  As we discussed before, whereas cycling itself is largely enjoyable and can, upon occasion feel epic in a very private sense, watching non-professional cyclists ride bicycles who are trying to emote 'epicness' is boring.  Add in a soundtrack and depending on the choice of music, it becomes as irritating as a squeak in your Look pedals. 

And with that, I bring you the new video entitled Paris-Chartres from Julien Rideau who "documented" the Rock'n'Rollin' Fixie Riders Club cyclists as they travelled by fixed gear bicycle, yes you guessed it, across the French countryside from Paris to Chartres.  Like most stories, this one is about a journey.  And I cannot help but notice the similarities this rag-tag bunch of cycling renegades shares with the aforementioned members of the Fellowship of the Ring as they make their way from The Shire-esque comfort of Paris across the wilds of Middle Earth.

Our journey begins in the early morning hours, under the cover of darkness.  Our heroes stock up on provisions for the long road ahead....

In this scene, one of the Fixie Fellowship buys a box of prophylactics, as he's heard that the elves of Chartres are easy, but not so clean.

Then we are introduced to the main character of the story.  He is nameless, but clearly carries a heavy burden.  Is it the heavy burden of a metaphorical ring?

Alas, no.  It is a physical handicap which makes him wear his helmet on the back of his head.  Sadly, it appears as though our would-be Frodo is hydrocephalic as can be seen in this photo-analysis, with his helmet perched on his gargantuan head like a dixie cup poised on a bowling ball.

As the sun rises, bladders full of mead and Virenque energy drink must be emptied.

Much like the music featured in the LOTR trilogy, which combined both classical scores as well as songs sung by popular artists, so too does this documentary mix musical genres.  As such, immediately following this image of raw and unflinching urination, the soundtrack changes from an ambient instrumental score to feature the unforgettable "She's Like the Wind" sung by Patrick is the first (and best) of four 'wind'-themed songs which comprise the remainder of the soundtrack.

And as the cyclists continue on their journey, the camera bears witness to the special armor each rider wears to protect them.  No, these adventurers do not wear enchanted chain-mail made in the mines of the dwarf-kings, but rather thongs made of Parisien silk, each adorned with an amulet of their protector, Jerry Lewis.

Our heroes stop for lunch....a meal of steak and French fries.  But they are confused by a food which possesses a French name, yet is American. 

Treachery, it seems, lies around every corner.  And exactly like Tolkein's famous Fellowship, betrayal by one of the circle of friends is suspected!

It seems as though Fred is trying to change the maps!!  And our hydrocephalic hero is dumbstruck.....his helmet removed, his stocking hat barely able to squeeze on his engorged cranium....he is confused and speaks nonsensically.

And while the Fellowship teeters on the brink of disbanding, a lecherous Gollum-esque figure appears and shows interest in the heroes' quest...

What becomes of our Fixie Fellowship?  Well, before night falls they arrive safely in Chartres, across an ancient bridge which possesses no guard rails....

I was hoping for a Monty Python ending, myself.....something rather like this.

But then I remembered that this was a French film.....c'est la vie.....maybe if the foot was hairy, though....

Pedal on!


  1. Frenching is a style of cutting, hence french fries. It means to cut in long, thin strips. It's also not capitalized.

  2. I saw Boromir and Aragon later in Memorial Union. I got some mediocre photos through the window (see Jan 23 blog entry), after I spent several minutes digging my camera out of the pannier, then out of the bag with my dry clothes, then out of the plastic bag inside that, then out of the ziplock bag. Nothing was dry by the time I finished.

    Everyone inside, including Boromir & Aragon, had cameras. Even the elf king.

    Too right about the internal soundtrack. The only reason I don't ride with headphones is the cords get tangled every time I stop. Which is often. That is a testament to the obsessiveness with which I stop at every red light & stop sign in town. Maybe I should ride outside of town once in a while!

  3. By the way, you aren't making vitamin D in January at this latitude, no matter how bright the sun is shining. It has to do with the angle of the sun at its zenith, and other big words. Try again around March 5. That's the earliest I've been sunburned.