Not every ride is about trophies and personal records. Sometimes you need to take it easy to the top so you can play harder on the way down.
I have a confession: I am unfaithful… I have been unfaithful to the many I have left in my wake over the years. My wandering eye has led me to carbon, aluminum, 4”, 5” and 6” of travel, 29” wheels, VPP, single pivot, FSR; I am fickle with these precision machines. But that’s just it…When I am riding a beautifully tuned dual suspension mountain bike on a ribbon of trail I find myself thinking about the machine. I don’t want to think. I want to fill my senses with the trail and my surroundings. This is why I often choose a single speed.
Good in the snow…
Ready for gravel…
Great in the dirt.
How did this happen? Let me try to explain. Back in the late 90’s I worked at a small bike shop in Indianapolis, IN. It was during this time that I had my first dance with what would become my obsession. Enter Bob. Bob was the cog tattoo wearing, Spot Brand-riding manager of the shop who would become my single speed jedi master. Here I was, a 19-year-old shop rat that had just plunked down two summers worth of dough on a new Specialized Stumpjumper. I thought life could not get any better, and then I got asked to go on a ride with Bob and a few of his buddies.
I remember thinking they would be getting a great view of my green Michelin tire as I left them regretting their choice of buggies…Boy, was I wrong..
Single speed bikes may not be a quiver killers, but it’s more often than not my go-to ride.
Now, I thought I was fast so I decide to meet them at our local trailhead after I got off work. As I pull into the parking lot I see them waiting for me. I grab my shiny bike off of my Jeep and quickly join them. That is when I notice something: All three of these guys are on single speeds, two of them with rigid forks no less. I’m 19 years old at the time, and these guys were all at least 15 years older than me. I remember thinking they would be getting a great view of my green Michelin tire as I left them regretting their choice of buggies…Boy, was I wrong.
They royally kicked my butt. I vividly remember after the ride, wheezing up to them and asking how they were so fast on a bike without any gears. I’ll never forget their response: “You just pedal.” This was the event that opened the single speed Pandora’s box for me. Luckily, Bob took it upon himself to welcome another into the fold. He set me up on a loaner single speed to see how I would get along with it. This just let the tentacles strengthen their hold on me. I was hooked. I placed an order for a new Gary Fisher Rig as soon as it was released and have never looked back.
Single speeding is about eliminating complexity to open opportunities.
I reach for [my single speed] most frequently because it allows me the rare opportunity to disappear from my own mind.
I didn’t start riding a single speed because I thought it would make me cooler. I started riding a single speed because I wanted to be faster, and it grew to be so much more than that. I reach for it most frequently because it allows me the rare opportunity to disappear from my own mind. Getting faster and stronger were just pleasant byproducts of riding a bike that only has a single gear. Riding a single speed is simple. I grab it off the hook, squeeze the tires to check air pressure, and roll out the door. Now while I am in the woods I can absorb the things going on around me; the scratch of the tires on dry dirt, the light coming through the leaves, and the bzzzzzzzzzzz as I let off the gas coming up to that tricky left hander. This is why I choose the single life.
Simplify Your Ride
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