Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Wheels One Gear

Singlespeeding... I just can't quit jabbering about it. Jenny tries not to roll her eyes when I enthusiastically tell her about the beautiful simplicity of it. To help you understand the transformation a little better you can read this post on the MTBR.com forums. If you want the condensed version, here it is (I wish I could take credit for creating this!):

The Ten Phases of Singlespeeding

1. Build your first singlespeed -- inspired by others riding SS, you either convert an old bike or buy an entry level SS to get the flavor.. Ride it, ***** about how hard it is getting up the hills, think about where to ride next. Lather, rinse and repeat...

2. Upgrade madness -- the weight weenie / blinglespeed side takes over and you suddenly develop a need to upgrade. A combination of an empty bank account, an upset significant other or a weight weenie part failure ensues. You have parts shipped to work, so the wife won't see the bike parts you ordered. You start looking for ideas (like the MTBR SS forum) to further your obsession of the perfect SS. (note to Jenny: I didn't have any parts shipped to work)

3. Gear ratios - your brain becomes obsessed with determining the optimum gear ratio for the upcoming race or given terrain. You temporarily lose focus on just riding and being one with your bike. Your library of forks, chain rings and cogs/cassettes starts to rival the selection at Supergo or Webcyclery.

4. Realization - the entry level SS no longer is good enough. You convince yourself you need a better bike -- custom, SS specific, whatever..

5. Purism - you realize that you're almost exclusively riding your SS. Your other bikes are collecting dust. Under your breath, you sometimes mock others riding gears and work your butt off to one-up them. You use your SS as a tool to brag or as an excuse / handicap (I geared too stiff for the course...) Start hating RockShox and Shimano just on principle, and start thinking rigid forks and DH tires are the better setup.

6. Laziness - you go out and upgrade to a "proper" SS. Now that you it, the upgrade and gear ratio obsessions are fulfilled. You get lazy, and start trashing your bike without taking care of it. You forget about checking tire pressures, chain tension, broken teeth and don't even consider about the consequences. A wonderful delusion, until the bike leaves you stranded 5 miles from your car, and your cell phone has no signal deep in the woods...

7. Heresy - ride your SS so much, that when you ride your geared bike, you miss your SS. You take it one step further and actually sell off the geared bike(s) that you previously couldn't live without.

8. Fight club - start putting beer in your water bottles, grow some unusual facial hair (for the men), dress like a freak, and acquire the attitude that you don't give a **** about racing or beating the gearies. Riding a pink colored bike frame or wearing orange socks with your Birkenstocks to a bar after the ride doesn't even click to you as being strange.

9 (optional) Scorching - as if SS'ing isn't fringe enough, start thinking http://www.63xc.com is an interesting alternative. Give it a go, maybe even get hooked.

10. Approach martyrdom - actually leave the clique by riding so much that few buddies can keep up with you. You become one with your bike. You simultaneously learn a level of humbleness and let your results speak for themselves.


Because I'm a weak man I accelerated from stage 1 to 7 quickly. Most friends would argue that I teetered on the edge of stage 8 (fight club anti-social insanity) prior to singlespeeding. I argue that I'm quite stable but free thinking. I'm sure Tyler Durden would have a similar pitch. Leave me alone. Seriously, before I have to punch someone in the ear.

I digress... the point of this post is to share my new-found passion. Bikepacking (read closely - BIKE packing). I know, I know... I love cycling and backpacking so the combination should have been as obvious as peanut butter and chocolate. It just wasn't, though. It wasn't until I fell in love with singlespeeding. Better put until I became a singlespeeder. The thought of keeping all of the geary bits, springy parts and countless other complicated whatzits working properly plays counter to the simplicity that I gravitate towards. Its was fun to get out and ride but spending days out in the wilds with that sort of bike just didn't seem to fit. Enter the rigid singlespeed beauty. Seriously... sexy, fast, simple. Behold...



Now I can't wait to strap my gear on the bike and get out there. Farther, faster, easier and simply. Interested? Check out the friendliest bunch of people you'll ever meet over at bikepacking.net. There are tons of archived threads to get you up to speed and any questions that aren't easily answered by the history will be answered in short order if you post. I'll be posting gear experiments and trip reports soon. Let's go bikepacking!!

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