Here I am on the Moots just coming up to the top of the hill on
the reservoir side of Fremont Older.
Maybe next time I'll try smiling.
Why I ride single speed
Why I ride a single speed is best described with a ride. A ride
with some hills in any place that gears ride. Riding is about the
hills, going up and coming down.
The ride starts in the parking lot with comments from other riders
like "You're going to ride that here?", "What nut house did you
escape from?", or "You know this trail has hills.". Just words of
encouragement to a single speeder.
The fun begins. The first hill isn't too steep. A good warm up
hill. You pedal a little faster and pick up some speed. As you hit
the hill you stand and push, feeling the bike flex under you then
pull forward. The acceleration is the thrill. You feel the muscles
in your legs tighten on each mash of the pedals. You feel strong
with the speed of the climb. This is why you ride. The hill continues
and you feel your legs start to fatigue. It doesn't matter. In a
moment you'll forget about them as you try to suck down more air
than your lungs can handle. There is never enough air. You keep
pushing. You have plenty of reserve and the top isn't far. As you
near the top you push harder to get that last bit of speed as the
hill rounds off. Level ground again, time to cools down and replenish
Then there is the steep hill. The ones where keeping traction is
a problem. The adrenaline kicks in as soon as you see it. You stand
and get as much speed as you can before you hit the base. Momentum
is your friend. Pick a path and start mashing. Pull on the bars
to get the down stroke power you need. Simply standing won't be
enough. Push hard but keep it steady and the weight back so the
wheels don't spin. Not too much or the front wheel lifts. You know
it's going to hurt even before you are half way up. Now it's the
legs that scream. You know you don't have the lungs to this for
long but you can work off your reserve for a little while. Can the
legs hold? Keep the burst going. Just a few more cranks to the top.
You are out of air. Just a bit more. You go for it anyway, pushing
on without air. You hit the top, legs weak, lungs ready to explode,
sucking air as you drop back into the saddle and try to recover.
A downhill, perfect. You hope you can recover before the next climb.
After a few slides and drops down the hill you are recovered and
enjoying the ride down. You forget that you will pay for the down
It had to happen eventually, the long climb out. It's a steep one
and you will need to conserve. Relax, try to settle down and take
it easy. You have to balance with speed. You start a slow crawl
up the hill, standing and mashing slowly, resisting the temptation
to take off. You know you want to but can't afford to burn out.
You realize you are still going as fast or faster than your geared
friends. You get behind the curve on the steeper sections and then
recover while standing as the slope decreases slightly. Got to relax.
Fall too far behind and recovery will be tough or won't happen.
Keep in touch with your temperature and hydration. After a half
an hour of heavy climbing overheating can be a real problem. Stay
with it, relax, conserve, relax, conserve. Push a little harder
if you get ahead of the curve then when the top comes into view
start using up the reserve. You can make it from here. Plenty of
time to recover after cresting the top.
The short blasts are so much better than the long climb. A few
more up and downs and the ride is over. Legs are sore and you are
tired but you will be ready the tomorrow for another ride. If the
weather is bad, put on the road wheels and the 2.75 to 1 gears and
push fast on the road hills. There is always a new challenge and
something else to try.