FLY OR DIE
Fixed gear fanatic Massan Fluker rides with an angel on his shoulder.
Story — Jason Black
Images — Jessica Miller
Massan Fluker rides like he’s got a death wish. The 31-year old fixee flyer bombs down steep hills, outmaneuvers city buses and snakes through bumper-to-bumper traffic with ease. It’s clear he’s got a passion for pedaling that sometimes puts him in harms way.
Recently, he put his own life and limb to the test by bombing the treacherous Berkeley Hills. As the story goes, he went up there at the crack of dawn around 6 a.m. and filmed a few establishing shots at the top. Then he and the cameraman set-up the hood-mount and took a few runs to test out his gear.
Captured online for all to see, the final footage of that fateful ride is unbelievable. At one point, Fluker actually climbs up on the seat and sticks his trailing foot off to use as a brake on the back tire: “It was definitely one of the fastest runs I’d ever done,” he recalls of the do-or-die decent. “I’m really grateful that we got it on film because I don’t think I’ll be doing that on a track bike anytime soon. I want to go back on my road bike and see how much more speed I can get.”
Since he’s been riding his whole life, this Bay Area native makes impossible rides like this insane down Centennial look basic. But, as he points out, he first climbed aboard a track bike about 11 years ago. And, from there, he’s never hopped off. “Growing up in San Francisco put me onto track bikes. Once I realized what it was and that it wasn’t so easy to just ‘pick up’, it made me want to get one more. Track bikes are really elegant machines, so I was also attracted to the bike, not just the riding.”
As you’d expect, the Bay Area fixed gear scene has changed greatly over the years. Like most groups, it began as a hardcore bike messenger town and, in recent years, has blossomed into all facets of modern ride culture: hill bombing, distance, freestyle, and beyond. “The entire fixed gear scene has evolved greatly as a whole. More people are riding bikes because more people are exposed to it.”
He adds: “My favorite style of riding is simply ‘riding bikes.’”
Recently, Fluker made the move from his hometown of San Francisco to Brooklyn to ride more and focus on his own photography. Actually, when we spoke, he had just got back from a collaboration art opening of his work with a friend over in Japan. So, in his mind, how do the East Coast and West Coast scenes compare?
“There’s way more people in New York compared to San Francisco. As a result, there’s also way more cyclists in New York City. In San Francisco, the community is small but strong. In New York, there are four or five communities in one.”
Strangely enough, when he’s not riding, Fluker enjoys walking around the city and taking it all in. It’s his way to relax and recharge. “A cup of coffee and an Apple iPod with good walking shoes can make for a great day, especially in New York.”
Creatively, he’s inspired by everything around him: the city, photography, movies, and friends. And, of course, he is continually inspired and passionate about expressing himself through riding: “I don’t really think about it that much, but if I were to stop riding, it would be a total change of lifestyle. I’m just used to doing what I’ve been doing. I still love it.”
Life is a wild ride. So what’s it like to ride along with him through the mean streets of the city at midnight? That’s simple.
“I like to lurk.”
Learn more at massansf.tumblr.com