Beto deAlva is one of the members of the group Death Lane / The Black Mass, a project that was created to document the fixed gear scene in Barcelona. They have a website and a fanzine, and they also organize races (some more legal than others). They do it for the sake of art. Well, for bicycles’ sake.
Despite having an unsuitable ground, Barcelona has been full of fixed gear bikes for some years now. The chain rotates on the single axis of the bike, located in the center of the rear wheel. Nothing else. No breaks needed. If you ride, you move forward. If you pedal backwards, you go back. If you jam the pedals (and you don’t break your kneecap), you skid. “Fixed-gear bikes are attractive to the public. Bikes are very nice and minimalist, yet they are dangerous and require full concentration on what you’re doing. The fixed has succeeded greatly among designers, etc., for that reason, because of its minimalist and customizable aesthetic. And let’s say also among skaters because of the risk and excitement that this type of bike offers “says deAlva.
There are some cycling purists that label the backsides that ride these bikes as “hipsters” and “trends”, while they, or some of them, defend their eternal passion for the cycling world, or part of it. “I guess fixed gear is related in some way to the hipster culture as something new and / or different. We first saw fixed bikes in the 90s on the streets of New York, ridden by bicycle messengers in the city because of their low maintenance. And it is an urban culture with more history than it seems, but it is very underground, and now, 20 years later, the bubble has been commercialized and has grown so much that is about to explode”, said deAlva, who also admits to being a BMX lover. Anyway, the comparison is not unjustified. Or have you seen many bearded men with acetate glasses and so on gripping the handlebars of a second hand mountain bike?
The Death Lane collective group also organizes races. Twice a year, to be precise, and with participating teams not only from Barcelona, but from Madrid and Valencia as well. They also organize another type of races, which they call alley-cats and which are illegal getaways. Why do they record the misdeed, then? “Races just happen to get recorded; there is always someone with the go-pro.” And how do the races work? “There are different types of games. If the race is only checkpoint, you have to collect certain control points in one city and return to the finish line, and in that case the first one wins. If the race is on points, you have a number of points required to collect, and then about 15 additional checkpoints worth a number of points. In this case, the game is to get as many points as you can in a limited time. If you pass that limit, you will be deducted X points per minute. “