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  1. #1
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    Single Speed Racing Ethics

    Recently I spoke with a very good racer in the single speed world and he was giving me tips on how to do well in endurance (like 12hour and 24hour) events. He gave me some good tips and hints but then he said something that scared me a bit… He was saying that he usually switches gears half way through the race. Lets say for instance he may start a race 32x16 and switch in the pits to 32x17 when he cant make the hills. In the rules of this type racing it says nothing about that one cant switch gears. Here is the dilemma: Is it truly single speeding if one switches gears half way into a race???? I would have no problem if these people that do this race in the geared category but they race in a category were the title implies only using one gear. Maybe I am being too much of a purest, but this seems morally wrong to me. Half the fun of racing single speeds is working with what you have. I can honestly say that I have never ended a race with a different gear then I started with. I hope this message starts an intelligent discussion on the subject. Can’t wait to hear your point of view. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Changing gears

    Quote Originally Posted by xSSx
    Recently I spoke with a very good racer in the single speed world and he was giving me tips on how to do well in endurance (like 12hour and 24hour) events. He gave me some good tips and hints but then he said something that scared me a bit? He was saying that he usually switches gears half way through the race. Lets say for instance he may start a race 32x16 and switch in the pits to 32x17 when he cant make the hills. In the rules of this type racing it says nothing about that one cant switch gears. Here is the dilemma: Is it truly single speeding if one switches gears half way into a race???? I would have no problem if these people that do this race in the geared category but they race in a category were the title implies only using one gear. Maybe I am being too much of a purest, but this seems morally wrong to me. Half the fun of racing single speeds is working with what you have. I can honestly say that I have never ended a race with a different gear then I started with. I hope this message starts an intelligent discussion on the subject. Can?t wait to hear your point of view. Thanks.

    In my opinion, it does'nt make a difference. If you cannot change gears while riding, its still a singlespeed.

  3. #3
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    No Problem

    I don't see any ethical problem there at all. He still only has one gear while he's on the course. Is there anything wrong with switching out tires? What if you rode different bikes at different times? What makes it single-speeding is that when the hill goes up you can't shift down (and vice versa).

  4. #4
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    Yeah, but did one race a single speed race or a two speed race??? What if its less about the bike and the rules and more of what a single speed race implies. There is no class that says "single set of tires race" and if there was... Would it be ethical to race half the race on one set and then switch. Just becuase you are only using one at a time is no argument. One has still raced on two sets of tires. Right???? I need more...
    Last edited by xSSx; 06-29-2005 at 10:34 PM.

  5. #5
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    A single speed is a single speed is a single speed. What you do in the pit is your own business. I've never raced though, so don't take my word for it.

  6. #6
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    I understand that the bike is a still a single speed but can you ethicly race in the one gear/single speed group??? Rules aside because they say one can. I have a big problem with this but maybe am wierd for thinking that.

  7. #7
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    Shady

    My ethic would be that it's OK to switch in the pits if one is repeating identical laps. If it's a course with two different laps then changing the gearing is unethical, you're adapting the gearing to the terrain. But I'm sure a lawyer would say if the rules don't forbid it then it's OK.

  8. #8
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    It seems like rule nit-picking. You are just changing the semi-permanent gearing of your single-speed bicycle while in the pit. It's a race for single-speed bicycles, not a race in which you can only use one gearing.

  9. #9
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    it's a race. this weekend's start of the tour of france presents a close analogy. to remain competitive, different bikes are used at various stages. similarily, during an endurance race, riders shouldn't be questioned if they decide to tweak the gearing. even on the course-if a rider wants to whip out a 16" breaker bar and swap cogs before a strenuous climb, more power to him/her. however, the line should be drawn on blood doping. that needs to be contained to the pits.
    Huck Maestro

  10. #10
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    We are talking about an endurance event here.

    Quote Originally Posted by xSSx
    Recently I spoke with a very good racer in the single speed world and he was giving me tips on how to do well in endurance (like 12hour and 24hour) events. He gave me some good tips and hints but then he said something that scared me a bit… He was saying that he usually switches gears half way through the race. Lets say for instance he may start a race 32x16 and switch in the pits to 32x17 when he cant make the hills. In the rules of this type racing it says nothing about that one cant switch gears. Here is the dilemma: Is it truly single speeding if one switches gears half way into a race???? I would have no problem if these people that do this race in the geared category but they race in a category were the title implies only using one gear. Maybe I am being too much of a purest, but this seems morally wrong to me. Half the fun of racing single speeds is working with what you have. I can honestly say that I have never ended a race with a different gear then I started with. I hope this message starts an intelligent discussion on the subject. Can’t wait to hear your point of view. Thanks.
    An event where changing clothes and taking a nap between laps is normal. As the club race director for our local club for the last two years, I would say your nitpicking.

    Brian

  11. #11
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    The guy is only using *one gear* when out on the course. Therefore, he is "singlespeed" racing.

    It sounds ok to me, unless the race rules specifically forbid the changing of gear ratios between laps/events.

    He is using his head, and that is all part of race tactics.. imo.




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  12. #12
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    I have done a number of solo 12 and 24 race. I see no problem with it. I have even done it myself at one 12hr race. Started of with 32x16 because I knew the course was going to be tough going (use 34x16 most of the time). As a result of going out to hard I had no option but to drop things back to 32x18.

  13. #13
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    A century ago, TdF racers were already using flip-flop hubs. They found that cycling isn't all that cool when you try to ride up the (then still steeper gravel version of the) Galibier in the same gear you also ride your flat clssics with. So at the bottom of a serious climb, they'd gear down a tooth or two. Wasn't called cheating. When the derailer hit the scene, it wasn't even considered cheating, but plain stupid. SS'ers won the TdF for a few more years until the derailer actually became a function item, and got used by real contenders.
    I think, in Singlespeed class races, you should limit changing gears to the pits, and then on the same bike. If you only have to swap bikes, that's even easier than a wheel flop, but then with flip-flop you can do it multiple times per lap.

  14. #14
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    24/9

    it's ok as long as it is inthe pits. At the 24/9 last year, I switched my wheelset. The ENO wheelset I started out with had a 18t ENO cog...half way though I changed it to the 16t cog wheel. I was running out of gear and spinning too fast in some spots. The 16t felt better. Also, I carry an extra wheelset as insurance, in case I bend something I have a backup.

  15. #15
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    Voice of dissent

    I hate to be the one to disagree, but I do think you should stick with what you start with. Changing gears(in endurance racing) as you get tired seems a lot like dropping to the granny when you can't middle ring a climb anymore. You are "shifting" because you are tired. Maybe I am being too much of a purist, but it seems to me the "run what you brung" rule applies when they say "go".
    I had wondered at the Burn 24 hour race if I should have went lower to start with, but I didn't swap out. I just convinced myself that if I was turning the gear earlier in the day so it was still physically possible to still turn it 12 hours later. If I really felt whooped I got off and walked which actually provided me with a nice break.
    I realize there are no rules regarding swapping gears. I am not implying there should be. I just don't think you would see me doing it. Now, stage racing is another matter. When the course changes on a daily basis it seems to me you have to make changes.
    If it is a 24/12 hour race and you have no idea what the course is like I don't know what to say. I think if you have general course knowledge and have been SS'ing for awhile you should be able to make an educated guess. I can't imagine committing to a 24/12 without some knowledge of the course.
    Last edited by teamdicky; 06-30-2005 at 04:20 AM. Reason: q
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  16. #16
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    Not that I have much racing experience, but I'm also in the minority camp. Changing gears is changing gears whether you use a derailleur or not.
    When the going gets weird its bedtime.

  17. #17
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    For those with ethical issues changing gears in a race...I'll offer a frameset with dual-duty rear dropouts. You can fit 26" or 29" wheels, without changing BB heigh. If you'd gamble on a 17t/29" normally, go 16/29" and if you get tired, swap to 16t/26". You didn't change gears, did you? :-D

  18. #18
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    Ride one start to finish....

    I think you should ride with what you start on! However for me it depends on the level of competition. If I were racing to place in a singlespeed class, no way would I switch gears. However my wife and I do a lot of 12 hour races as a duo team. If were not racing for the money, I'll switch just to make the ride more fun.

  19. #19
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    I just ride what I got on. However, you can change tires, tubes, broken chains, brake pad, bent wheels, or even swap bikes during a race. So there should be no problems changing chainrings or cogs. Especially if you bend a chainring, and you don't have an exact replacement.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    So at the bottom of a serious climb, they'd gear down a tooth or two. Wasn't called cheating.
    I am not 100% sure, but I think it actualy was considered cheating for a while. The rules were relaxed then to allow it.

  21. #21
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    It is a matter of semantics. If not, then the category should be appropriately called Constant Gear Ratio or Constant Gear Inches, instead of SS. What if I am running a 34:17, but conditions dictate that I need to change a gear to a 34:18? Yes, I did change the gear ratio, but I did not change the actual gear, i.e. I am still only using one while riding. If the assumption is made that the SS category implies not just only a number of gears that are usable at any given time while riding, must there also be a stipulation that the gear ratio or gear inches stay the same? (For something as pure as SS, we just got real messy…)

    Having raced for over 3 years in everything from XC to Enduros on my SS, Singlespeed is singlespeed. In some races I have changed the gear inches after 20+ hrs. My legs were just tired. In some races I have not. Was I a SS in all those races. Damn straight. I still rode only one ring up front and one ring in back. I have yet to see anyone complain at the podium that I was not riding a real SS when I did so.

  22. #22
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    Lightweight

    Quote Originally Posted by Downhill Dawg
    it's a race. this weekend's start of the tour of france presents a close analogy. to remain competitive, different bikes are used at various stages. similarily, during an endurance race, riders shouldn't be questioned if they decide to tweak the gearing. even on the course-if a rider wants to whip out a 16" breaker bar and swap cogs before a strenuous climb, more power to him/her. however, the line should be drawn on blood doping. that needs to be contained to the pits.
    It only takes a hyper-cracker.

  23. #23
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    so then ..

    Quote Originally Posted by ernesto_from_Wisconsin
    it's ok as long as it is inthe pits. At the 24/9 last year, I switched my wheelset. The ENO wheelset I started out with had a 18t ENO cog...half way though I changed it to the 16t cog wheel. I was running out of gear and spinning too fast in some spots. The 16t felt better. Also, I carry an extra wheelset as insurance, in case I bend something I have a backup.
    Is the DOS ENO ethical?

  24. #24
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    i agree with the OP 100%

    In the spirit of simplicity and doing-it-all-in-one-gear-toughguy-ness swapping gears has no place in a single speed race.

    "swapping gears in a single speed race" that statement alone is pretty silly....

    for those arguing that when you swap cogs you are still only using one gear at a time, i also use only one gear at a time bewtween shifts on my geary.
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  25. #25
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    good discussion, fellas

    Quote Originally Posted by teamdicky
    I hate to be the one to disagree, but I do think you should stick with what you start with. Changing gears(in endurance racing) as you get tired seems a lot like dropping to the granny when you can't middle ring a climb anymore. You are "shifting" because you are tired. Maybe I am being too much of a purist, but it seems to me the "run what you brung" rule applies when they say "go".
    I had wondered at the Burn 24 hour race if I should have went lower to start with, but I didn't swap out. I just convinced myself that if I was turning the gear earlier in the day so it was still physically possible to still turn it 12 hours later. If I really felt whooped I got off and walked which actually provided me with a nice break.
    I realize there are no rules regarding swapping gears. I am not implying there should be. I just don't think you would see me doing it. Now, stage racing is another matter. When the course changes on a daily basis it seems to me you have to make changes.
    If it is a 24/12 hour race and you have no idea what the course is like I don't know what to say. I think if you have general course knowledge and have been SS'ing for awhile you should be able to make an educated guess. I can't imagine committing to a 24/12 without some knowledge of the course.
    I have to agree with TD, Wooglin and our author. Mostly for what I decide to do. If in doubt at the beginning of the race, I may opt to run a smaller gear in an effort to be more efficient later in the race. Otherwise, as Dicky stated above, jump off and push for a nice stretch break.

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  26. #26
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    Technically, whatever...

    Ethically, the following rules apply:

    one beer must be chugged each additional tooth increase on the rear sprocket in a race.

    two beers for each tooth in an endurance race.

    if you change gears during an enduro event, you must stand at the keg and pump the tap for other racers


  27. #27
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    Ok

    Quote Originally Posted by ShivaSteve
    Ethically, the following rules apply:

    one beer must be chugged each additional tooth increase on the rear sprocket in a race.

    two beers for each tooth in an endurance race.

    if you change gears during an enduro event, you must stand at the keg and pump the tap for other racers

    I will accept that adendum to the rule book.
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  28. #28
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    I've asked this question before, and have to say that I'm in the minority camp. Finish with the gear that you started (is that opinion still in the minority, or have we bcome the majority yet).

    I learned something new last night in the ethics/strategy category. Rode with some other ssers (very rare occurence for me). At the top of a longish, steepish, loose climb, I was right on the wheel of the more 'experienced' sser, when he reached the top, he paused. I wasn't on the top yet, so I had to pause during the climb. Then he took off again, so I had to recover, get to the top and chase.

    he laughed and told me that it was a very intentional pause, but that it works better on a steep, st climb when there is someone on yor wheel..

  29. #29
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    What is the definition of "single-speed"? Is it having only one gear on a bike at a time? Or is as specific as a "bicycle that never, EVER changes it's gear ratio". So, expand which ever definition you chose and apply that to "single-speed RACE".
    If in a non-race setting, I decide to change my rear cog because of where I'll be riding, does that mean I can't consider myself a SS'er since I've changed gear ratios??



    If someone feels that changing ratios in the middle of the race violates the spirit of SSing, I don't have a problem with that. But, if the rules allow it--or better yet, don't explicitly forbid it--use it to your advantage. You can bet that others will.

    Cheers...



  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by sportsman
    I've asked this question before, and have to say that I'm in the minority camp. Finish with the gear that you started (is that opinion still in the minority, or have we bcome the majority yet).

    I learned something new last night in the ethics/strategy category. Rode with some other ssers (very rare occurence for me). At the top of a longish, steepish, loose climb, I was right on the wheel of the more 'experienced' sser, when he reached the top, he paused. I wasn't on the top yet, so I had to pause during the climb. Then he took off again, so I had to recover, get to the top and chase.

    he laughed and told me that it was a very intentional pause, but that it works better on a steep, st climb when there is someone on yor wheel..
    just like intentionally opening up a gap and then shutting it down pronto on a road ride / race. makes a mess out of the group behind you. you have the big advantage because you can time and co-ordinate the extra effort on you terms. to the guys behind this is a big disadvantage.

    i'd expect an old hand like you to know that trick by now.
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  31. #31
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    I am soooo glad that i am not the only that thinks that while racing one should race the same gear start to finish. Like OneGearGuy said If you know its going to be a long hard course pick a gear that is a little easier. Sure one may be spun out during the first part of the race but later on it will help it may make the difference between riding and walking.

  32. #32
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    old trick

    Quote Originally Posted by sportsman
    I've asked this question before, and have to say that I'm in the minority camp. Finish with the gear that you started (is that opinion still in the minority, or have we bcome the majority yet).

    I learned something new last night in the ethics/strategy category. Rode with some other ssers (very rare occurence for me). At the top of a longish, steepish, loose climb, I was right on the wheel of the more 'experienced' sser, when he reached the top, he paused. I wasn't on the top yet, so I had to pause during the climb. Then he took off again, so I had to recover, get to the top and chase.

    he laughed and told me that it was a very intentional pause, but that it works better on a steep, st climb when there is someone on yor wheel..
    A more subtle tactic is when everyone is walking up a steep section is to remount on the very first place possible, then anyone behind can't start until you're gone.

  33. #33
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    So, if you realized your seatpost was to low, you wouldn't raise it for the next lap, you'd just ride it the whole race? Some people like to tweak their ride for the course - the tires someone mentioned above is a great example.

    BTW, I've run the same gear since day one. I've never modified it in all my years of SSing, doesn't matter where or what I'm riding, I'm either too hard-headed or lazy. However, I could care less if you switch gears in the pit. I'm a run-what-ya-brung kind of guy, but if you can't switch while riding you are good by me.
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  34. #34
    the cool nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuffer
    just like intentionally opening up a gap and then shutting it down pronto on a road ride / race. makes a mess out of the group behind you. you have the big advantage because you can time and co-ordinate the extra effort on you terms. to the guys behind this is a big disadvantage.

    i'd expect an old hand like you to know that trick by now.
    I know the roadie trick, have had it used on me and I've used it on others (if they'd pull through I'd have no problems with them ).

    Even been known to pass a slower ride (mtbing or cyclocrossing) just (barely) before a st section, or tighter section, just so people behind me get caught behind him.

    !st time that I've been aware of the stall tactic though. Just shows that there is always something to learn (like being the first over a climb )

  35. #35
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    Seems like a slippery slope. IMO, changing gears is changing gears whether you do it once a race in the pit, before every hill by flipping your wheel or using your fingers to move the chain, or on the fly using shifters and derailleurs. Picking the right gear to start and finish with should be part of the game (again, IMO). If you can't compete with a single speed. . .

  36. #36
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    Hey, if it's called "Single Speed", then shouldn't you ride the entire race at one constant speed...

    And when I ride a fixed gear, can I change the cog? It's still fixed...

  37. #37
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    did the guy that switched gears win the race, or at least place ahead of the person that started this discussion?
    if the answer is yes, that explains a lot.
    #1 NORBA elite singlespeed racer 30-34 age group

  38. #38
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    I cant believe your even implying that... To answer your question though... I have never raced this person. It has nothing to do winning or loosing a race. I have raced bikes long enough to know that only one gets to win out of hundreds of starters in some cases. As I have said this has never been about the rules, even if this guy beat me he did it fair and square. A hand shake and beer at the end. I am just saying I would never race a single speed race and switch gears some X time into the race. I believe that it is against some unwritten single speed code. Kinda like the school yard code. Everybody knows these rules... Like never tell on anybody even if you don't like them.... Haha, School Yard Code.

  39. #39
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    I think there is way, way too much nitpicking on this one. What other mid-race adaption of equipment is illegal? Changing tires is a good example. If making a gear adjustment gives an unfair advantage, then why aren't there sub-categories like 32:16, 32:18 in SS racing? But what do I know? I do not race competitively, and listening to this anal bs reminds me why. That, and I suck.

  40. #40
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    Another good reason

    This is another good reason to blow off singlespeed class and race with everybody else.
    Although I guess I'd miss the camaraderie of hanging around *****ing at the guy with a
    flip-flop.

    I don't really have an opinion one way or another - I'm not going to change gears,
    but I don't care if you do. I'll just pass you while you're in the pits diddling with your
    "chain whip". Or not. Whatever.

    And to the guys who stop in front of others to screw them up at the races -

    Ya'll are *****. You can call it tactics if you want, but I call it poor sportsmanship and being a friggin' chump.

    ZB
    Yeah, it's strange. But oh well.

  41. #41
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    Cracking the Whip...

    Gapping riders in the paceline and closing it yourself is simply annoying to riders behind you, it does little or nothing to break them (if that is your goal) =)

    To do it right, you don't want to close the gaps yourself. You must gap out the freeloader, taking him 50 meters or more off the back and force him to come around and pull you back to the group. Then one of your friends in the group takes his turn gapping the freeloader, forcing the guy to close the gap again. Few people can survive the third forced trip off the back.Be aware that you may have to close it down yourself when the freeloader finally blows up, but he will not be able to follow, and you will be well rested.

    Try it, it works! Fun for the entire family. =)

    But I digress...

    A single speed is a bike with one gear. Did the guy ride the entire race on a bike with one gear? Okay.

    I pre-rode the Sea Otter course, went back to my hotel and (uh-oh) CHANGED MY GEAR for the race the next day. I didn't know I was cheating! Didn't do me any good anyway. Still didn't win.

    JMH

    Quote Originally Posted by sportsman
    I know the roadie trick, have had it used on me and I've used it on others (if they'd pull through I'd have no problems with them ).

    Even been known to pass a slower ride (mtbing or cyclocrossing) just (barely) before a st section, or tighter section, just so people behind me get caught behind him.

    !st time that I've been aware of the stall tactic though. Just shows that there is always something to learn (like being the first over a climb )

  42. #42
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    What you did is perfectly fine and smart. Part of single speed racing is knowing the terrain so you can pick the perfect ratio for the race. You did not switch gears during the race. I am talking mostly about endurance events where one does laps and has a pit area to rest and refuel.
    Last edited by xSSx; 06-30-2005 at 12:38 PM.

  43. #43
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    I've seen pros swap bikes between laps - is that ethical? What if I brought 2 bikes to the race, with 2 different gear ratios? Ethical?

    If it's a 50 or 100 mile race, I'd say 'no' to swapping gears. However, if it's a time based race - 8, 12 or 24 hour - I'd say 'yes'.

  44. #44
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    Changing gears is a bad idea, and it takes too long.
    I'd bring 2 bikes with 2 different gears. And laugh at anyone who questioned it.

  45. #45
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    exactly!

    Quote Originally Posted by paqrat
    I've seen pros swap bikes between laps - is that ethical? What if I brought 2 bikes to the race, with 2 different gear ratios? Ethical?

    If it's a 50 or 100 mile race, I'd say 'no' to swapping gears. However, if it's a time based race - 8, 12 or 24 hour - I'd say 'yes'.
    I am doing my 2nd Chequamegon SS cat race. 40 miles of goodness...and I never thought of it, but why would I want to change gears? I'm happy through the race with my 34/16. But for a 24 hr race, I say yes. Like I stated before, I felt like I was running out of gear, so I switched wheelsets to the 16t.

  46. #46
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    24/9 pt 2

    Rumor goes that a guy on a SS bike was disqualified fromlast year's 24/9 in Wausau for having a Roholff(sp?) hub. Now, if that's the case, that's totally cheating.

  47. #47
    JMH
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    Coming clean...

    Sorry, I was being a sarcastic dork. I didn't feel like I was cheating at all. But since you gave me a good reply, free of irony, I will try to do the same. =)

    I don't think it is unethical, I think it is clever. Since every gear choice you make is about compromise, I don't think changing a gear by switching wheels is cheating (as long as pits are legal). If you find you are dying on the climbs and switch to an easier gear, you are sacrificing speed for torque. There is no win-win situation on a singlespeed. As long as you don't shift while riding, I think it is legit. Besides... planning to slow down mid race probably just means that you mis-judged the first half and overcooked it... not exactly a sound pre-race strategy.

    My 2 cents...

    JMH

    Quote Originally Posted by xSSx
    What you did is perfectly fine and smart. Part of single speed racing is knowing the terrain so you can pick the perfect ratio for the race. You did not switch gears during the race. I am talking mostly about endurance events where one does laps and has a pit area to rest and refuel.

  48. #48
    I am the owl
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    Quote Originally Posted by xSSx
    Part of single speed racing is knowing the terrain so you can pick the perfect ratio for the race.
    Part of single speed riding is knowing yourself so you can pick the correct gear for life. No gear changes ever or you are cheating. Didn't you read your SS rule book?

    [tongue planted firmly in cheek]
    SingleSpeedOutlaw .com
    Riding Bikes and Drinking Beer.

  49. #49
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    It's a matter of personal style not "rules". I wouldn't change a gear during the race would certainly pre-ride to see make sure that gear was good for the duration....

    Kind of surprised so many people would change gearing during a longer race.... but it doesn't really matter as usually it's best to worry about your own ride.

  50. #50
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    you can do whatever you want. do you have to ride with your lights on your bars all day, just to use them at night? of course not.

    i wouldn't change gearing, just because i cannot afford more than one white industries freewheel. and changing chainrings is a total pain. but if you want to do it... knock yourself out.

    all those tactics and crap are the reason i dont race for real. i enter races if they are fun. if some guy stalled me out near the top of a bastard climb, i would call him a friggin jerk. ooohhh!! podium at some local podunk race in SS sport class! ohh!! you are so cool!!

    i think if you are so serious about your podium ego stroking, race in expert where it actually matters becuase if you win that, you are actually faster than your average dude. like the guy who came in first overall at the VT50 last year on a rigid SS pushing some insane gearing (42:16 or something!).

    when i see some guy racing in beginner sport show up with 3 superlight bikes and warming up on the trainer, i just have to laugh at him. what a friggin boner.

    what SHOULD be against the rules is spicy chili in the pits and cheap beer. the gas is dangerous for riders behind you. HOWEVER, I use this oversight in the rule book to my advantage by laying massive farts near the top of steep climbs. riders behind me gasp near the top and fall over and pass out.
    but they usually pass me later when i am having diarrea on the side of the course.
    Only boring people get bored.

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