I was once a die hard singlespeeder. Working on bikes all day for a living made it hard to want to work on my own. One gear makes it easy to just go ride. So for years I did almost all my riding with no shifters, no derailleurs, no barrel adjusters. I have even raced some big races with just that one solo gear. In fact it was the 2011 Tour Divide that might have begun to break apart my singlespeed only, way of life.
It has been almost two years since I have put in any serious miles with the one gear. I have come to use all those gears, you can go faster, you can go slower, you can longer without as much fatigue. These are all great things, I have improved on my race finishes, I can say that I love having multiple gears! In fact at last years Vapor Trail 125 I was scoffing at all the rigid singlespeeders present, so easily forgetting that the last time I raced the VT I was on a rigid singlespeed. Don’t get me wrong, I like it all, just found that I am not so hard core after all, I like to shift!
Well I was doing some wheel testing and needed to send the test wheels in. For some reason I thought, why not throw the “oney” wheel on and ride that for a while? Yesterday was the first reunited ride. It was a long dirt road climb with a 10 mile hike and then the same long dirt now a descent back to town. Well going up was ok, the steep stuff hurt pretty damn good and there was nothing to do but stand up. The ride back I was having Tour Divide flashbacks, OH how I hate the flats! Spinning like mad, still way under geared, tucking for miles and miles. Seriously was thinking of throwing the gears immediately back on.
Today a sweet afternoon ride out through Hartman’s getting way back there for some Aberdeen Grande! The Aberdeen Loop is two sections of singletrack connected with a touch of dirt road. Instead of doing the loop I like to do the Grande, which is a big out n back, up the east side, down the west side, back up the west side and down the east. It is a great ride, it makes for a lot of climbing and you get to do each section of trail in both directions. The riding is engaging, fast, fun. It is also gorgeous, the views are huge, big sky country.
Out here on the trails I was loving the single. It was super fun, light, silent, efficient and fast. However I was reminded of how much body english it takes to clean some climbs. Like going up the “down” of Skull Pass, it took every muscle to get up that sucker. On every climb I was reminded of how much extra work it is to climb on a single, upper body workout, check! Surprising myself with how well I did, I managed to clean almost everything. Now my arms and shoulders are aching, twitching from the unfamiliar effort, apparently two years is a long time. Maybe I will keep rocking the one gear for a while, there is much knowledge and skill to refresh. Pretty damn sure if the opportunity comes up again, I will not be racing one on the Divide.