Thursday, September 9, 2010

For Rick

Rick was kind enough to find the perfect race for me. And I would enter it if I didn’t already have plans this weekend. Seriously, I would. Because believe it or not, I like riding single speeds. I have a single speed. For a while I wasn’t riding it much. I thought about selling it but couldn’t bring myself to do it, because I realized I have an emotional attachment to that bike.

Single speeds are fun. They’re simple, and they force you to ride differently, to ride smarter if you will. Momentum becomes a key consideration. Pacing strategies are different. And of course, it’s challenging, not just climbing in a big gear, but riding flats and descents in a small gear.

I don’t, however, ride a single speed every day. And certain comments that I’ve made may have been interpreted incorrectly. Lest there be any mistake, please allow me to clarify. I’m not pointing any fingers, just expounding my position.

Single speeds are a choice. And if you choose to ride a single speed, you should also choose never to complain about the trail or race or whatever you’ve just ridden being harder because you’re on a single speed. You can complain all you want about how hot it was or how steep it was or how rocky and loose it was. We seek out the hard, we endure it, and then we complain about it amongst ourselves afterwards. But it’s best left unspoken that the hard everyone experienced was harder for you because of your equipment choice. Everyone already knows what everyone else is riding because as cyclists, we examine each others’ gear with the scrutiny of a sex addict at a strip club.

I’m not opposed to having a single speed category at races. Want to line up against others on similar equipment? Go for it. You can also race your regular category on a single speed like Brad does. But Brad never complains that he got gapped on the flats because he was spun out or anything else related to his bike choice. There’s never any mention of what he thinks he could have done were he on a geared bike. He chooses to ride a single and lives with the consequences.

Other people recognize that single speed riders are tough, and they respect that. All I’m saying is that if you’re riding a single, people will notice and make the connection that you’re tough (or have a screw loose)—you don’t need to point it out for them.


  1. Have I mentioned how steep the trails in the UC are and how much it sucks to pedal a 32x19 gear up those things...No? Well, let me tell you...the UC is steep and it really sucks to pedal a SS around those hills (please clap now).

  2. "Single speeds are a choice."

    that's where you're wrong. It's not a preference, it's an orientation. nature, not nurture.

  3. dug - if you go through counseling, seek spiritual guidance, and go through multiple rounds of electroshock aversion therapy, I know that you can change your SS orientation.

  4. Rick: [wild applause]

    Dug: It's OK to have the orientation, as long as you don't act on it.

  5. Don't worry, almost everybody experiments with a SS in college a little bit, but most people grow out of it and settle down with a nice geared bike in the long run.