Singlespeed Mountain Biking
SingleSpeed Biking

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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 oxygen reserves.

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 hill later.

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.

I started riding in the summer of 1999. These are my current rides.

The extreme geometry singlespeed. Climbs like a goat.
It's a red surly cyclocross bike. Flip flop rear hub. It gets me around the streets of Tokyo.

Since going to the United Bicycle Institute in 2003 I've made a few bikes, including the one I ride most often.

My most recent project.
A road bike for Nicole, my olders daughter.
Pamela's mountain bike. Pamela is my youngest daughter.
The first bike building project.

Here are some of my previous bikes, since 1999 that is.

Moots Uno, my favorite until I build my own.
Brodie UniBomber, the backup bike, rigid fork, low cost.
Specialized Allez, The winter trainer, a road bike.
Intense Tracer, it went through various incarnations.
Specialized Stump Jumper, first bike, now my brother's.

I took a trip to do some bike riding in October of 2001. You can check my scrapbook for the trip report and pictures.

LOTOJA 2002 - After breaking my finger one week before the race I rode LOTOJA. Almost 200 miles in one day. That was painful. Sore feet and seat. I did manage to hook up with two other riders who made the epic much more tolerable. Here we are, Greg, Sharon, and myself. I'm the one with the cast on the left hand and the bandage on the right elbow. Maybe a little extreme for my first road race but I did finish and I wasn't last. Just close to it.