No better thrill on wheels, say pixie bikers
THEY'RE grown men on tiny bikes.
Not circus clowns, but daredevils who say they're young at heart.
Meet the pixie bike racers, the latest, weirdest and likely the most well-balanced breed of Winnipeg cyclist.
On Sunday, they raced full bore on their tiny homemade wheels down the steep grade of Garbage Hill, vying to be the first to make it between the pylons two feet apart at the foot of the hill.
They'd grab hold of the jersey on the person in front of them to slingshot ahead. The prize for the winner of the "death race"? Survival and the sheer fun of it.
Jean Madore, 42, has been organizing the races for two years, and wants to "take it big -- as much as BMX."
There are anywhere from a dozen to 22 pixie bike racers in Winnipeg, Madore figures. Most are male and many are bicycle mechanics.
The transplanted Quebecer is a proponent of the homemade novelty bike as well as being a mountain biking enthusiast. The tricky little pixie, though, is dearest to him.
"I'm like a kid again," said the Canadian Forces driver and driving instructor.
"I have no kids -- I'm the kid."
The bikes may look childish but require a high level of balance and co-ordination to operate without popping a wheelie or wiping out.
The pixie riders make it look easy.
Paul Dixon, 31, whips around the Garbage Hill course near Polo Park well-protected with a blue cape, shin pads and a full-face downhill helmet that says "Got Jesus?"
His bike is a hybrid of scavenged parts, including a pink L'il Princess handlebar and a boyish black banana seat.
Sometimes the bike mechanic will go for a spin down Broadway during the lunch hour.
"All the people looking grumpy see me coming and it makes them smile," said Dixon, who has a three-year-old daughter.
On top of Garbage Hill Sunday, the pixie bike racers warmed up on their "steeds."
"If you hit a gopher hole, you're gone," said KMO, a 27-year-old bike mechanic who wouldn't give his real name.
He said there are no real mountains or big hills in these parts, so to make the hills feel bigger, they make their bikes smaller.
The sport isn't for everyone, he said.
"It's for someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously."
Madore said they're planning more races later this summer with the dates and times posted on his Facebook wall.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2010 A5"