Last night was a nice night for a walk along the river. A little warm and humid but not too bad.

I had borrowed my brother-in-law’s GPS unit, and was planning to mark off sections of the Springwater Corridor Trail to help me determine distance for my various favorite running loops. Many of the landmarks I use don’t show up on Google Earth (the trail is only about 2 years old and many of the images in Google Earth are a little older than that) so I thought having exact latitude and longitude would suffice.

Quick question: why are the boxes they sell for getting GPS coordinates always called “units”? “GPS unit”. My laptop isn’t a unit. My iPod isn’t a unit. My cell phone’s not a unit.

I was near the north head of the trail, heading south, looking at the GPS… thing. A lady and an older guy were on bikes, single-file, going the other direction.

Suddenly something smacked me in the back and I went down. A guy flew by me, followed by his bike.

I was stunned a moment, and my elbows hurt. My first thought – “Is my new sexy thing OK?!”

It had been in my messenger bag, slung across my back. It had taken the brunt of the impact. I pulled it out of the bag and the padded sleeve I keep it in, with visions of the beautiful screen being cracked, shattered.

As I did that, the lady and older guy had stopped and was asking first the fixie-rider, then me, if we were OK.

For the uninitiated, a “fixie” is a fixed-gear bike, and the subject of some recent controversy in Portland. A judge ruled last week that a city ordinance requiring brakes on bikes does, in fact, require a separate friction brake on bicycles. A bike messenger had recieved a ticket, and was fighting it on the grounds that her legs were good enough. The judge ruled otherwise.

Yes, the guy who hit me was riding a fixie, with no brake.

As I was examining my laptop (screen was fine, although there is now a barely-visible dent in the top case just to the left of the Apple logo, and it woke from sleep normally) I looked at the fixie-rider laying on the ground. “Is that a fixie?” I asked him. He groaned a reply. “Those are illegal, you know.”

Even stunned and injured, I’m a smartass.

The older couple fussed over us a bit, offerred us water (why? Did they think we were dehydrated?) and finally let us go on. The guy offerred his apologies and admitted he had been going too fast, and that the accident was his fault. I was just glad my laptop seemed fine, but if I ever get turned down for service from Apple because of that small dent I’m going to be beyond angry…

I didn’t have an opinion on the whole “fixie” controversy before last night. And maybe I shouldn’t blame the bikes for what happened to me… in fact, I don’t blame the bikes. But I do blame the whole elitist mystique that seems to surround fixie riders for their cavalier attitude for pedestrians.

Look, fixie poseurs, if you’re riding on a sidewalk or a trail or in a park, where there are pedestrians, you need to be going pedestrian speeds. Save your racing for the streets or a bike track.