One racer, Hannah Ruebbelke-Smith, 28, was arrested and charged with assault. She is facing up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, if convicted.

Despite what happened during the incident, fixed-gear scenesters say alleycats will continue to thrive.

After the Kill Mill race, riders gathered at old Domenic's, and prizes were handed out to the top finishers. Nate Holt, a 23-year-old pedi-cab driver (his ilk being the closest thing to bike messengers in the Phoenix area), took home $100 from the pot, a T-shirt, stickers, and a DVD of MASH SF (a 2007 documentary about fixed-gear culture in San Francisco).

Oh, and the Jim Beam? It wound up going to Chris Cunneely, 24, of Tucson, where fixies also are exploding in popularity.


Fixed-gear bikes have a badass image — which may be the main reason they're popular with racers.

Much different from mountain bikes or 21-speed road cycles, the contraptions take a unique skill to operate. Because there's no ratchet-like freewheel mechanism, coasting isn't possible. That is, the pedals are constantly in motion, owning to a direct connection of the chain to a cog bolted on the back wheel (hence the name fixed-gear).

The way the pedals push back on the feet when riding makes the bike feel alive. It'll also work a rider's legs, not only from the nonstop pedaling but because there's just one speed. Some models come with hand brakes, but most don't.

To slow down or stop, a rider must lift his or her backside off the seat while pushing back on the pedals, locking the rear wheel. If skilled enough at stopping the bike, a rider can even bust out with some tricks. There's a learning curve to it all, which is why novices sometimes use hand brakes.

Serious cyclists have long-favored fixed-gears for velodrome racing, and they're a mainstay in the bike-messenger culture. British cyclist Victoria Pendleton will be riding a track bike (virtually identical to a fixie) when she goes for an Olympic medal next month in Beijing. Hardcore bike nerds go even further back with their claim that fixies were born out of old-timey safety bikes of the 1880s and were the bikes used in the early years of the Tour de France.

One such gearhead is Ben Ko, a hairdresser at Scottsdale's Vidal Sassoon, who's been riding fixies since before he moved to the Valley from Washington, D.C. Ko sums up the bike's attractions like this:

"Simplicity, low maintenance. They're very sleek, fast-looking."

Ko, who also DJs weekends at the Mondrian Scottsdale, adds, "It's like a road bike but without all the brake cables, guides, bottle cages, gears, and chain rings."

Sammy Black, 26, an artist and walking tattoo canvas, offers this analogy of how fixies differ from other bikes:

"You see these guys on these huge mountain bikes with super-huge suspensions. It's like a barbarian sword. "Then you have these fixed-gears, like totally stripped down. It's like a samurai sword."

Over the past couple of years, local bike shops have reported an increase in fixie-related business. Ryan Cowling, owner of Kore Bike Industries in Scottsdale, estimates that 10 percent of his recent sales have concerned fixed-gears.

The bikes can be seen among other two-wheel rides parked outside joints like The Lost Leaf and LUX Coffee Bar in Phoenix, Green restaurant in Scottsdale, and Casey Moore's in Tempe.

The fixie scene in the PHX isn't just about tattooed-and-pierced types. It's also populated by white-collar workers, bike geeks, competitive pro-style criterium road racers, and college kids — who also gather at First Fridays in downtown Phoenix to hang out or hold impromptu rides around the Valley.

You can't buy fixed-gear bikes at chain stores like Costco, but certain bike shops offer models like the Bianchi Pista (suggested as a good starter fixie) for as little as $600. But most fixie fanatics are into building their own bikes. Gearheads on azfixed.com trade tips on where to get track cycle frames, how to convert old road bikes, and where to get parts.

Some fanatics often joke about spending more money doting on their rides than on rent or food.

Shawn Brick is the first to tell you that riding fixed-gears isn't for the faint of heart, that it takes a good deal of practice to be safe in traffic.

"You need to concentrate at all times [when operating fixies]," Brick says. "If you have a momentary lapse where you stop pedaling, [the bike] can buck you off [and] you could cause an accident."


Peter DiAntoni, editor of fixed-gear publication COG, says fixie culture has spread from cities that utilize legions of bike messengers, like New York.

Case in point: Dan Piatkowski is credited with bringing alleycat racing to the Valley.

Piatkowski, 29, was living in NYC in 2003 when he first learned about underground alleycat events there. Piatkowski, raised in the Valley, bought a fixie off Craigslist and got a job as a bike courier ("I kinda made up a story about how I used to be a messenger in Arizona, even though there aren't any here"). From his co-workers, he heard tales about how crazy the alleycats could get, though he never saw or participated in the races while living back east.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Dfkjfn
Dfkjfn

um you didnt actualy talk to the race orginizers did ya wasnt my first race ive set up nor my last first race as a crew..

state employee
state employee

the one issue that truely needs to be investigated is most ignored in regards to the az state hospital. since the ceo john cooper has started his career at the state hospital there has been major in justices and lack of concern for the safety of both staff and patients.john cooper before coming to the state hospital ran a senior living home. how does that make him experienced running a mental health facility???since he took over we have avaraged over 650 assaults a year,4 patient deaths due to neglegance,and over 1,000 injured eployees(brokrn jaws,fractured bones,stitches,infections and some requiring major surgery)! these numbers have doubled and tripled since he took over. he is responsible for major cover ups of his securitry supervisors involved in multipul sexual harrassment cases,patient abuse(allowing pts to fight eachother..we have had investigators uncovering alot of these issues and yet the state is still taking its time in dealing with it. talk to the employees,there is much more to invetigte and discuss!! the people of az have a right to know!! fight back state hsp employees!! az state hospital is not safe for patients or employees!!

state employee
state employee

I just now happened to see the comment written by Alice Vitte. I understand the motivation to protect her husband... but all of us who work with him: no such injuries noted. ASH protected him to save face, but someone with a temper like that should not be working with vulnerable patients.

citizen
citizen

mrs. vitto, you and your husband are both liars. you're only a liar because you believe the lies he tells you. mrs. ruebbelke-smith never even got close to him or laid a finger on him and he knows it. she is a pacifist who has NEVER physically hurt another human in her life! she now has a permanent scar on her leg and suffered FAR worse injuries that your weak husband! do you think she got to go to the hospital? no, she spent the night in jail for riding her bike. they took away her only form of transportation for no reason! talk about loosing money, you have nothing to complain about! anyone who would blame their injuries (from crashing their work vehicle into their own security booth) on innocent people is totally distrustfull. don't think there aren't eye witnesses that saw him crash. the car paint is probably still in that security booth! i could care less about his SELF INFLICTED injuries. you can pamper him all you want, he obviously needs it! that's where the dent in the car came from, there is no other way for it to have occured. it would have been impossible to kick it in that way, especially while riding a bike! who is he trying to kid? if the hospital would actually release the real footage (if they haven't distroyed it already) it would clear the whole matter up. end of story. you all are hiding the real story because you are guilty of total and blatant misconduct. i pray neither of you are christians as you "appear" to be because you got some bad karma coming your way from being liars. vitto, have an unbelievably negative and evil spirit within you. just tell the truth and be honest! stop living a lie.

Concerned citizen
Concerned citizen

If your husband went to the emergency room with a "black eye" and "some swelling" he is a pussy that should go back to what ever menial job he had before he got fired and decided to become a night security "officer". I was the last person out of the hospital. Your husband was still alert and cognizant enough to kick at me and instead hit my bike. His glasses, in one piece mind you) were still on his fat fucking face and his shirt wasnt ripped. He had only exited his van long enough to threaten to "beat the fucking ass" of the guy he had previously tried to run over. Your husband is trying to save face for fucking up a job that a monkey could do by claiming he was assaulted. I see your naivity in regards to how much of a man your husband actually is also extends to your lack of knowledge when it comes to the law as well. Anyone can be accused of a crime, that doesnt make them guilty. For instance i can accuse you of being a fucking dolt idiot. That doesnt make you a fucking dolt idiot, however marrying that sad sack of shit doesn't help your case.

Alicia Vitte
Alicia Vitte

I have put much thought into my making a comment on this article as this is a personal topic for me. While I was not at the Az State Hospital during the race I was at the hospital where they took my husband Giovanni afterwards. This article refers to "alleged photos" which show swelling of the face, and the comments from participants in the race. Let me share what I saw that night. I was led through the emergency room and I see that my husband has a black eye and swollen cheek. I see his ripped uniform and his broken glasses. I also see the marks upon his chest and legs, just as he smiles and tells me not to worry I am told that I have to go back to the waiting room while they take my husband for a cat scan as they suspect swelling of his brain or concussion. I read in the article that Ms. Ruebbelke Smith was man handled and detained by guards. I am sure that was unpleasant - my experience that night was unpleasant as well. The next day I watched my husband explain to our daughters why he looked the way he did. In the following week I watched as he went to doctor visits to check his vision and repair his glasses. I assisted him in budgeting to buy a new uniform. I watched him return to work and continue in his job. I understand that the people in this race are claiming innocence over a misunderstanding and Ms. Ruebelke Smith is claiming she is a victim because she lost her bike, but I see the flip side. I see my husband that went to work to help keep the people of this state safe, a thankless job most nights, come home injured and now he is being slanted by the participants of this race as reckless and dangerous. As an avid reader and defender of this publication I am saddened by this article and its lack of research. Did Mr. Leatherman go to the hospital records showing date and time of entry and release to review if the photos of injuries match those described by the hospital staff? Did he take the time to review statements made by other officers? Did anyone at all question why, if no one was in the guard shack that night, the guards were on alert and the hospital gate sealed? Did he question that fact that there are no skid marks on the pavement or grass at the hospital to indicate Giovanni jumping curbs or squealing tires as was stated by one of the racers? Did he question why if Ms. Ruebbelke Smith is being charged by the State if she did nothing wrong? New Times prides itself on showing real life stories about Arizona to Arizona and I have always enjoyed that but now I have to question the integrity of an authors story and whether this is a paper I should continue to support. The men and women of the State Hospital have a job that most people never see or appreciate, but picture for a moment how worse off we would be if they were not there doing the job they do. Now take a moment please and try to understand that while everyone in the race that night was Just trying to have a good time - my husband and his co workers were doing their job.

rationalmind
rationalmind

The Hospital is a state-run institution and P.P.D. are municipal employees. They would have to obtain a court order to be able to "watch the tape" from that evening. Eye witness accounts are proven to be unreliable. Somewhere between unintentional mistakes and hysteria lies the truth.

Forrest
Forrest

It's a darn shame that the author of this article decided to ignore the fact that we all pulled together to build our friend a new bike for free when hers was (wrongfully) detained by the PPD. I guess only squeaky wheels get grease. No pun intended. I've spoken with employees of the hospital and have been informed that the guards tend to watch television in their shack when they should be working and doing things like making sure people don't wander onto the grounds. What probably happened was that the guard on duty was slacking off and not paying attention. Once he realized that there were some people where they shouldn't be, he flipped out because, were he to get caught, he would lose his job. If he were paying attention, this mess wouldn't have happened in the first place. Since it has happened, though, I hope the hospital guards are brought to justice for what they did.

We are not punks, nor are we thrill-seeking hooligans. We are just a bunch of people of varying ages with a common interest. If hipsters hadn't hijacked bikes, we'd be looked at as nothing more than nerds.

Dan
Dan

"Its a shame that the pure fun and joy of one of these events will be clouded by the incident at the hospital. I told a friend of mine that works for the P.P.D. about this article and the incident at hand and he has actually seen the hospital surveillance video from that night and said it was as brutal as some of the gang fights he has seen. Two security guards where jumped by a total of about 8 bike riders... What a shame I have always been a lover of my bike and would love to get involved with these races but what a shame..."

what a shame? wow... I actually was in this event and was trapped inside the gates upon entering (the entry clearly did not have any signage suggesting entry was illegal and the gates were wide open), there was only one guard that was verbally confronted and that was after he made several attempts to strike as many cyclist as he could w/his van, as for the physical confrontation, there was none, none of us were an a position to strike any guards as most of us were scrambling for an exit, we did yell at him several times to stop, most of us pleaing for him not to strike anyone else, but other than that there were no physical altercations, aside from the one individual that was detained by the gauds and that was after she was already apprehended and was inflicted onto her persons by said guards, so not only did this brutal gang land style attack never happen, but if it did it could have already been used as evidence against the individual obtained, but since it doesn't exist it was not, so maybe you shouldn't post comments on events that yr "friend" clearly fabricated in an attempt to make us out to be criminals for whatever gains, basically in so many words yr friend is a lair and you as a mouth piece for yr friend need to get yr facts strait before condemning the actions of people that you do not know, cause most of us are pretty nice people.

Dan
Dan

"Its a shame that the pure fun and joy of one of these events will be clouded by the incident at the hospital. I told a friend of mine that works for the P.P.D. about this article and the incident at hand and he has actually seen the hospital surveillance video from that night and said it was as brutal as some of the gang fights he has seen. Two security guards where jumped by a total of about 8 bike riders... What a shame I have always been a lover of my bike and would love to get involved with these races but what a shame..."

what a shame? wow... I actually was in this event and was trapped inside the gates upon entering (the entry clearly did not have any signage suggesting entry was illegal and the gates were wide open), there was only one guard that was verbally confronted and that was after he made several attempts to strike as many cyclist as he could w/his van, as for the physical confrontation, there was none, none of us were an a position to strike any guards as most of us were scrambling for an exit, we did yell at him several times to stop, most of us pleaing for him not to strike anyone else, but other than that there were no physical altercations, aside from the one individual that was detained by the gauds and that was after she was already apprehended and was inflicted onto her persons by said guards, so not only did this brutal gang land style attack never happen, but if it did it could have already been used as evidence against the individual obtained, but since it doesn't exist it was not, so maybe you shouldn't post comments on events that yr "friend" clearly fabricated in an attempt to make us out to be criminals for whatever gains, basically in so many words yr friend is a lair and you as a mouth piece for yr friend need to get yr facts strait before condemning the actions of people that you do not know, cause most of us are pretty nice people.

concerned citizen
concerned citizen

"I told a friend of mine that works for the P.P.D. about this article and the incident at hand and he has actually seen the hospital surveillance video from that night and said it was as brutal as some of the gang fights he has seen. Two security guards where jumped by a total of about 8 bike riders..."

All i can determine from this dribble is that either your "friend" at the PPD is a fucking liar, your friend at the PPD is an idiot, or that you have no friends but wanted to sound important and informed.

wanker
wanker

thanks for your comment "wanker" i cant wait to get "creamed" ( am i going to be secreted on? ) by a bus. ill sit and laugh with you, maybe even share some of the "cream".

im assuming you are british, as you used brit slang. so , ill speak in a language you understand

piss off you bloody cunt.

cheers.

Jeremy
Jeremy

Its a shame that the pure fun and joy of one of these events will be clouded by the incident at the hospital. I told a friend of mine that works for the P.P.D. about this article and the incident at hand and he has actually seen the hospital surveillance video from that night and said it was as brutal as some of the gang fights he has seen. Two security guards where jumped by a total of about 8 bike riders... What a shame I have always been a lover of my bike and would love to get involved with these races but what a shame...

dk rogers
dk rogers

after reading this story all I have to say is wow what a bunch of wankers. can�t wait until they get creamed by a bus during one of their little races. i�ll sit back and laugh my ass off then.

hugh
hugh

Sounds like a great group to hang out with. Act like obnoxious punks at a hosptial, get in a fight with security, and then run away, leaving a woman to take the blame.

fixed
fixed

good job Ben.

 

Around The Web

Loading...