Friday, September 15, 2006

Single Speed: It's a Cycling Thing

The other day, I was perusing Rich Dillen's excellent blog, and I was struck by the things he said about single speeding. (He is a very good single speeder, by the way) Anyway, I thought about it and left a comment which I will use as a jumping off point. Here it is:

"Anyway, I am also a singlespeeder and a long distsnce rider, but I really don't make a big deal out of the single speed thing. I mean.....I've been on a single speed bike since I was a kid, with the exception of a few years of geared exploration. Kind of like when you go to college and experiment with drugs, sex, and booze, and then you get yer head on straight again and go back to what works. Well, some of us "grow up" and some of us don't, and I'm not afraid of "growing up, it doesn't mean that some things I did as a kid were stupid, just the opposite, really. "

The point being that I think I figured out this single speed thing along time ago. Way before I even knew that it was an underground, punk rock, rebellious, cool, "tough guy", or blue collar way to go about mountain biking. In fact, I didn't take to "the gears" too easily.

When I got my first mountain bike, a proper eighteen speed Mongoose mountain bike mind you, back in 1989, I was out for a spin with my girl friend. I was grinding it up a hill when she looked back at me and said, "SHIFT! You've gotta use those gears, ya know!" Hrummpf! Ahhh! Okay! So, my delving into derailluer drivetrains began. I futzed, miss shifted, used the wrong gear, spun waaaay too fast, ground it out in waaaaay to high a gear, and generally made a mess out of things at first. Then it dawned on me one day in 1990. "Hey! It's gonna be tough going up these hills no matter what gear I choose. I still gotta motor my carcass over that thing. If I use a low gear, I'll just go slower and take longer to do it. Hmmm........." Little did I know it, but my inner single speeder was rearing it's ugly little head. Of course, I didn't listen........for years!

Fast forward to 2003. I am ready to get a 29"er and thought, "Ahh...what the heck! Let's try a single speed!" So, the Karate Monkey came into my life and it's been single cogs ever since. I found my "home" again.

So, is being a single speeder anything other than being the cyclist that I have been since I was five years old? I don't think so. Just pedaling a bike that I get along with. I still ride a geared bicycle from time to time. It's not a sell out. It's not going to ruin "the ride" if I do that. I believe it's just cycling. Gears or not. Whatever! Just ride, ya know?

It's just a cycling thing, that's all!

Look for an initial ride report on the Raleigh XXIX this weekend. Pictures and a write up. Go ride, ya'all!

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