OT: (but sorta close) Chicago - where are the bikes? the fixies??- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    cmh
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    New question here. OT: (but sorta close) Chicago - where are the bikes? the fixies??

    Forgive the off-topic post, but I think this is the best place I could get an answer...

    I work in Center City Philly. I'm in Chicago this week on training. I've noticed something, and I don't understand it. Well, two somethings.

    First, Chicago is beautiful. Looks like a hell of a city for riding. I'm kicking myself for not bringing my bike with me. They've even got this: http://www.chicagobikestation.com/ - parking, showers, rentals, onsite maintenance, bike cops share the space... just amazing. I stopped by today and was blown away.

    So... why does it seem like I'm seeing so few cyclists in Chicago vs. Philly? In Philly there are a steady stream of riders at almost any time. Huge range of bikes, too. In Chicago, sure, I see cyclists, but it just seems like so few. Plus most of the bikes I see are mountain bikes or beaters. I'm right in the center of town (State St, River North to the Loop) where I would figure bike concentration would be highest.

    The biggest difference is the lack of fixies and courier-style bikes. In Philly there are tons of fixies, trackbikes, low-buck conversions, and my favorite, the "Kevorkians", brakeless fixies with ultra-narrow bars, usually been rattlecanned, beaten with a chain, and then wrapped in tape or old tubes. Don't forget the cards in the spokes from the alleycats. Ugly as sin but functionally pretty at the same time.

    I have been here since Monday and have yet to see ONE. I saw one track bike parked on the other side of the street, had the track bars, but also a front brake and might have been a singlespeed. I've seen a couple bikes running singlespeed, but for the most part, it's all gears all the time.

    So what's the deal? Where are all the bikes? Where are all the fixies? Is that not as popular as it is in Philly? I'm confused, because walking around here, I'm REALLY missing my bike, and would love to cruise these streets. Might rent a bike for tomorrow.

  2. #2
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    I've never been to Chicago, but I definitely know what you mean about Philly. What don't we have here? As a matter of fact I've just seen a (very) petite girl on an IRO 29er (fixed as well) about an hour ago. And this was in South Philly... Anyway, I'm sure they're out there (Chicago), but you most likely haven't come across them yet! (different part of town maybe?)

  3. #3
    cmh
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    They've gotta be out there... they've just GOT to be...

    I'm realizing just how much I've gotten used to seeing all the bikes when I'm walking in Philly. I love the variety of bikes you see - from the nastiest K Mart specials on up. I've seen bikes being ridden and locked up which really should be in the Smithsonian or something. Awesome.

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    Perhaps the dearth of fixed rides can be traced to all of the art school kids being back home for the summer already?

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    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by alrs
    Perhaps the dearth of fixed rides can be traced to all of the art school kids being back home for the summer already?
    That would certainly cover a bunch of them, but what about the couriers?

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    Nat
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    You've been there less than 72 hours and Chicago is a big place, so maybe the bikes just haven't been in your vicinity. I have in-laws in Chicago and the folks to whom I've been exposed out there have a different idea of what constitutes a good time.

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    They're here, trust me. Messengers ride fixies, so do the 'hipsters' who have 'discovered' riding suicide conversions. My favorite are the people with a freewheel and only a front brake. Darwinism I tell you, Darwinism.

    I can personally claim ownership of two singlespeeds, but I've been riding my Bridgestone the past two weeks since it has gears and flat pedals, and I'm still getting over a sprained ankle. Where are you staying?

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    they are there, just go over to bikeforums.net in the SS/FG forum 50% of that forum is from chicago. when i go down for alleycats there are usually at least 100-150 chicago kids that show up on fixed gears. you just have to know where to look. head over to yojimbos garage or wicker park or pilsen you will see tons of kids down that way.

  9. #9
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickD.
    They're here, trust me. Messengers ride fixies, so do the 'hipsters' who have 'discovered' riding suicide conversions. My favorite are the people with a freewheel and only a front brake. Darwinism I tell you, Darwinism.
    Ha, okay, sounds just like Philly, hipsters and all. The desire to be a nonconformist by dressing and acting and riding just like all the other nonconformists.

    Guess I just haven't seen enough of the town yet. So far I've stuck to walking so my exposure's probably been no more than 10-20 blocks in any direction. Got a rail card but no clue where to go with it. (except back to the airport on Friday!)

    I understand it's a big place but the heaviest concentration in Philly seems to be around the center of town (city hall) so just found it odd it was so quiet in the same area of Chicago!

    Where are you staying?
    Staying at the Embassy Suites on State and Ohio. Training is right at State & Madison.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmh
    Guess I just haven't seen enough of the town yet. So far I've stuck to walking so my exposure's probably been no more than 10-20 blocks in any direction. Got a rail card but no clue where to go with it. (except back to the airport on Friday!)

    I understand it's a big place but the heaviest concentration in Philly seems to be around the center of town (city hall) so just found it odd it was so quiet in the same area of Chicago!
    Yeah, Chicago is a VERY spread out place. Not a lot of people down where you're at. You may have noticed that at night everything seems to close down, well that's because no one really lives down there (for the most part). Take the blue line L train to the Damen stop and you'll be in the heart of Wicker Park, which is hipster heaven. But be forwarned that if you're not on a poorly converted Schwinn World Sport, going to the local coffee shop (called Filter) with your IBook, or not pissed off at 'the man,' you won't fit in

  11. #11
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickD.
    Yeah, Chicago is a VERY spread out place. Not a lot of people down where you're at. You may have noticed that at night everything seems to close down, well that's because no one really lives down there (for the most part).
    Well, there was a fight the other night outside Quartino which had five cop cars showing up... other than that, yeah, you're right. Dead at night.

    Take the blue line L train to the Damen stop and you'll be in the heart of Wicker Park, which is hipster heaven. But be forwarned that if you're not on a poorly converted Schwinn World Sport, going to the local coffee shop (called Filter) with your IBook, or not pissed off at 'the man,' you won't fit in
    LMFAO... shouldn't be reading this during training!

    Okay, so I'm just in the wrong place... cool. Dunno if I'll make the trip just to see what we've got in Philthy anyway, but it would be nice to see a coffee shop other than yet another damned Starf**ks.

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    cmh
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    funny talking about hipsters and fixies with the Swobo ad flashing so irritatingly at the top of the page...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmh
    Well, there was a fight the other night outside Quartino which had five cop cars showing up... other than that, yeah, you're right. Dead at night.



    LMFAO... shouldn't be reading this during training!

    Okay, so I'm just in the wrong place... cool. Dunno if I'll make the trip just to see what we've got in Philthy anyway, but it would be nice to see a coffee shop other than yet another damned Starf**ks.

    Thanks!
    I was in Boston last fall, and other than wishing I had a bike with me to get around, I really wished I had the time, and more importantly the knowledge, to know where to go other than the downtown area. It blows me away how many people come to Chicago and think Navy Pier and Milennium Park are the city. In a way, they AREN'T the city because real Chicagoians hardly ever go there. I've lived here my whole life and have yet to see it all.

    There's a coffee shop on south Dearborn (maybe 700 south?) called Cafe Gourmand which is semi close to you and not a chain. My only real advice would be A) to have a TRUE Chicago hot dog, and B) make sure NOT to get ketchup on it

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    you mean a hot dog from here? http://www.portillos.com/portillos/look/

    huhuhu

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    Quote Originally Posted by lanceh
    you mean a hot dog from here? http://www.portillos.com/portillos/look/

    huhuhu
    Portillos is a damn good dog, that's for sure. But my favorite are from Superdawg:

    http://www.superdawg.com/

  16. #16
    cmh
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    ... and if we just ... Found them!

    RickD. hit the nail on the head, and I mean perfectly.

    Headed off in another direction (west) during lunch, and saw a bunch of bikes, and a hanful of fixies, with a couple of Kevorkians in there too. After class I was out early, so I just started walking with no real destination, and found myself by a Blue Line stop, so figure WTF, and hopped on for Damen.

    Your description was amazingly accurate. Even if I wasn't sure of the name of the stop there was no mistaking the area from your description! Decided to walk back, and headed down Milwaukee. There's a bike lane, and all the way down Milwaukee, it was a steady parade of bikes, covering the entire range. About the only thing I didn't see was a tallbike being ridden - I did see one locked up. And man, oh, man, the Schwinns were EVERYWHERE, but heaviest around Damen.

    Saw a couple of very fast, and (apparently) very skilled Kevorkian riders, too. Always impressive.

    The closer I got to the hotel, the less and less bikes there were. Now it all makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by RickD.
    It blows me away how many people come to Chicago and think Navy Pier and Milennium Park are the city. In a way, they AREN'T the city because real Chicagoians hardly ever go there. I've lived here my whole life and have yet to see it all.
    Ha... yeah, I can imagine that. The area I'm in certainly does seem more touristy.

    There's a coffee shop on south Dearborn (maybe 700 south?) called Cafe Gourmand which is semi close to you and not a chain. My only real advice would be A) to have a TRUE Chicago hot dog, and B) make sure NOT to get ketchup on it
    Ha. I'll have to check those two out if I have time tomorrow, thanks for the suggestions. I did find a GREAT italian sausage sammich at the corner of Desplaines & Lake - don't remember the name of the place but a heavy train theme. Maybe it was just from being hungry after 3 miles of walking, but it was GOOD. There was even a road rage episode at the corner of Randolph to provide entertainment as I ate!

    Thanks to everyone (especially RickD.) for the info! I always enjoy seeing the range of bikes and things folks do to their bikes to prepare them for city use.
    Last edited by cmh; 06-01-2006 at 07:24 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmh
    The biggest difference is the lack of fixies and courier-style bikes. In Philly there are tons of fixies, trackbikes, low-buck conversions, and my favorite, the "Kevorkians", brakeless fixies with ultra-narrow bars, usually been rattlecanned, beaten with a chain, and then wrapped in tape or old tubes. Don't forget the cards in the spokes from the alleycats. Ugly as sin but functionally pretty at the same time.

    They're all up here in Madison ~120 miles to the north... 'cuz we ain't payin' no steekin tolls to be on the road.
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmh
    RickD. hit the nail on the head, and I mean perfectly.

    Headed off in another direction (west) during lunch, and saw a bunch of bikes, and a hanful of fixies, with a couple of Kevorkians in there too. After class I was out early, so I just started walking with no real destination, and found myself by a Blue Line stop, so figure WTF, and hopped on for Damen.

    Your description was amazingly accurate. Even if I wasn't sure of the name of the stop there was no mistaking the area from your description! Decided to walk back, and headed down Milwaukee. There's a bike lane, and all the way down Milwaukee, it was a steady parade of bikes, covering the entire range. About the only thing I didn't see was a tallbike being ridden - I did see one locked up. And man, oh, man, the Schwinns were EVERYWHERE, but heaviest around Damen.

    Saw a couple of very fast, and (apparently) very skilled Kevorkian riders, too. Always impressive.

    The closer I got to the hotel, the less and less bikes there were. Now it all makes sense.



    Ha... yeah, I can imagine that. The area I'm in certainly does seem more touristy.



    Ha. I'll have to check those two out if I have time tomorrow, thanks for the suggestions. I did find a GREAT italian sausage sammich at the corner of Desplaines & Lake - don't remember the name of the place but a heavy train theme. Maybe it was just from being hungry after 3 miles of walking, but it was GOOD. There was even a road rage episode at the corner of Randolph to provide entertainment as I ate!

    Thanks to everyone (especially RickD.) for the info! I always enjoy seeing the range of bikes and things folks do to their bikes to prepare them for city use.

    No worries, my pleasure. Bring a bike next time and give a holla...

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