Dragged myself into SS- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Dragged myself into SS

    First of all Iíd like to say that I find the SS forum to be one of the most constructive and informative forums around here: sprinkled amongst the camaraderie and humour are some pearls of good advice.

    The forum has cost me a fortune though, I stumbled onto it over a year ago now and I wasted two full days of work reading the two main threads. The exhilaration of conquering SS you guys shared was infectious.

    I remembered riding in my childhood, I had a friend who owned a handmade custom velodrome bike, it had won some 1962 championship here. It was a fixed wheel super light bike Ė everything else on the market in these dark ages was unimaginative steel (as opposed to good steel). My friend let me borrow the bike for a few weeks and I remember the fixie challenge being immense fun Ė going down steep hills without too much body dismemberment and then sprinting up the other side. Shimano hadnít made any clip ins by then ( I donít think), so toe clips were the go. Enough of that roadie stuff, but I guess that brief interlude has an element of SS destiny in it...

    Back in May 09 I was looking for my second bike to a triple ringed FS bike I had, sorry, I didnít mean swear (I hope the moderator doesnít bump me off). A little intrigued by my readings here, I found a new, but second hand, SC Chameleon at my LBS Ė ridden twice and then repossessed. Given its versatility and massively reduced price I went for it and built it up as a 1x10, purposefully to improve my strength. I believed I wasnít yet strong enough for SS as I was only just starting to ween myself off the granny ring in the FS realm (Yep more swearing, I was the one you flew past up those hills while I spun out on 22t x 34t).

    Riding 1 x 10 was great, it was immediately quieter and more focusing and I empathised with the SS forums comments.
    In the mean time I traded my old FS for a new FS, and it too went the path of 1 x 10. I was sold on improving my riding simplicity.

    I am quite a lazy peddler, I canít seem to spin a high enough gear while seated, I am always conserving my energy for the downward run (a constant mind game for me). I kind of dislike the climbing part, yet I am happy to get out of the saddle and sprint in the downward part to give me a great ball tearing run into a corner or a tech bit. But my riding buddies usual start to pull away from me on longer climbs.

    Anyway, I spent a year (some) trail riding, urban riding, BMX track and pump tracking the Chameleon and then it was time to SS the Chameleon. I was determined to get my moneyís worth. I started experimenting, the old ďwithout changing gearĒ method on the 1x10. I tried 21t and then 18t on the cassette. I thought I would go for 19t, but I went to 18t because I will still ride to work every now and then. So I have arrived at 34t front and 18t rear. It is a bit hard to push on the flats and on those long but slight rises. Forced improvement for me, maybe.

    My first ride out, about 1hr 20, I cleared all the hills and tech bits and was really stoked Ė I have a couple of harder hills to attack yet. The second ride was in a different section with two very long fire road climbs Ė 800m (or yards) of standing was interesting, especially after single tracking with technical climbs. 3rd ride was okay and then the 4th ride it rained and it was muddy. It was hard work keeping momentum, the mud was sucking my tires down and the clay sections on the climbs had me spinning the rear tyre when I didnít have the energy to spare (I thought). I managed to clean everything (dirty that is), but my thighs are burning, and then I went to work and walked up and down the stairs sometimes carrying boxes etc, this was agony as the body is screaming out for recovery - but I was on a high with the pain/reward/achievement thing anyway. On this rainy ride I was very glad to get the SS dirty and leave the FS behind Ė it was a ton of fun sliding around.

    Generally my flat riding is still crap, I am so slow and am not building up any spin speed with the pedals Ė that lazy peddler thing. I am naively hoping that I will eventually start to spin the flats harder with time. Itíll make a cyclist out of me yet...

    I am enjoying the challenge, it is awesome and my arms hurt, my stomach muscles hurt and my legs hurt Ė in fact this is killing me.

    I can feel some strength improvements already, I went for a quick FS run this morning and I was much quicker everywhere even with burning legs Ė perhaps I am morphing.

    I really like the ultimate simplicity of SS. I love the aesthetics of the bike, I just want to reach for it and jump on. As an SS, it feels like itís always ready to ride, eager to go. The ride itself is very much attack at all times, so it is very engaging. Technical ups are so different from the standing position but again, a thoroughly engaging challenge. I am keen to do more and to do it better.

    I have read everyone elseís adventures, so I thought I should reciprocate and share mine as I am sure that there are some reading this that are just about ready to make the jump into SS. Go for it, it is going to hurt good.

  2. #2
    Out spokin'
    Reputation: Sparticus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Welcome aboard. Soon you'll find the zone and riding will simply be riding. No more good/bad judgment, just riding. You'll do whatever you have to do to clean any section. Skills like storing momentum and flowing through whatever as you move through space and time just as an artist paints a masterpiece. You're going from here to there, your bike is a tool you become one with to help you overcome whatever obstacle may confront you. When you're there, there is no pain, there is no judgment, there is simply riding. Pure, blissful riding.

    Welcome to the singlespeed.


    We don't quit riding because we get old.
    We get old because we quit riding.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    I like my SS more than any other bike I've ever had. It's also the wrong gear most of the time. And I don't care.

  4. #4
    Low Rep Count
    Reputation: 1SPD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Awesome! I pretty much made the switch this year myself but have long been a roadie though I always played around on an mtb in the off season.

    Love the ride, the clean looks of the bikes, the simplicity, the weight savings and having to learn to ride better due to also going rigid (no front suspension). Been great so far. Keep it up, it will continue to grow on you and you might just end up converting that FS to an SS as well!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    SS reconnected, engaged.

    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamK
    I really like the ultimate simplicity of SS. I love the aesthetics of the bike, I just want to reach for it and jump on. As an SS, it feels like itís always ready to ride, eager to go. The ride itself is very much attack at all times, so it is very engaging. Technical ups are so different from the standing position but again, a thoroughly engaging challenge. I am keen to do more and to do it better.

    I have read everyone elseís adventures, so I thought I should reciprocate and share mine as I am sure that there are some reading this that are just about ready to make the jump into SS. Go for it, it is going to hurt good.
    Hello and welcome to SS. Thanks for bringing your experience in the process of becoming ONE: A true cyclist, no add-ons, no ground masking suspension, no fumbling with gears. An engaging experience as you mention.

    My experience is very similar to yours. As a child, SS was all we had, with coaster brakes. And i had true fun !
    After many years riding, as an adult, i started growing tired of finicky suspension settings and other gadgetry such as so many gears....tired of the excessive cost of keeping up with technology. Seemed i had to maintain my bike more than ride it. Gears became an obligated choice at each hill, up or down. Suspension travel 'divorced' me from the trail surface, .....i couldn't find out why i was having such a hard time riding my FS.!! ...it was such an utter feeling of disconnection from the trail (disengagement, in your terms)...i was not having fun.

    In time, chainrings started to come off, the cassette, used....on one gear....i reduced travel by filling up the air shocks to the max....and i started to feel a new sensation while riding ...the reconnection !

    So, i did it, i read my fellow singlespeeder's posts, and in no time, i went SS. Simplicity, cleanliness, challenge. No suspension, no gears. A direct connection with the trail and my bike. Fun again.
    My arms and legs, eyes, balance, coordination, etc, have been challenged again and, as expected, have adapted. The adaptation had a cost, but it had rewards: I've beat my best FS times on measured courses and have enjoyed more the very technical sections. Even cleared some very hard hills with loose rocks, that i had never conquered on my geared FS. My body wanted to grow in performance and i was keeping it limited by gears and suspension!!!

    I can summarize this process like this: With SS I have grown gears on my legs and suspension on my body, my eyes have developed new ways of scanning the trail for lines and my newly improved body coordination has improved my pedalling. Isn't that fun?
    A true reconnection.

    Congrats on coming to SS, reconnecting, engaging, growing gears in the legs and suspension in the body... go SS, go simple, be ONE.

  6. #6
    Ovaries on the Outside
    Reputation: umarth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Get a fixed gear wheel for the commute so you stop pedaling quite so lazily.

    Welcome aboard and all that as well.

  7. #7
    Dive Bomber
    Reputation: jackspade's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    I'll say welcome home.

    Because when you ride SS, you don't feel you're nowhere but it's all feels like home.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Dms1818's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    I run 34/18 on my 29er and on the flats it's the wrong gear. But like everyone else, I don't care. 12 mph is good enough. Just pedal and enjoy the view. Need some cardio? Every climb is heart pumpin' leg burner. Sometimes I have to push, walking is good exercise too.
    Have Fun!

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Thanks everyone

    Thank you for the warm welcomes everyone. I am harbouring some concern, it is best I not tell the wife to much as she is dubious at the best of times about my infatuation with all things mtb. I have a stronger than usual craving to get back out onto the track. Am I really seeking more pain. This renewed eagerness is exciting.

    My first 4 rides were all done in pretty quick succession, but I already think I am feeling very different in my body, possibly even strength wise. Yesterday I lifted 7.5 tons of boxes (clearing out a container for the boys), anyway I feel good and ready to roll Ė strange.

    I have got a few rides planned for next week and I canít wait.

    Thank you and props to you for your own forum masterpieces Ė as a major contributor to the standard of the forum here, you are perhaps one of doyens of the SS forum. I love the space/time continuum and Iíll be searching for that 4th dimension to my riding.

    Wish I Were Riding:
    Thanks, yes bikes all have a compromise. Long travel or short travel I find that every ride I find a compromise. What I see so far is that simplifying things with SS brings the ownership of the comprise back to you, the rider and not the bike so much Ė and itís all about the riding.

    Thanks. Iíll ride this out some more and see if the bug bites me any harder and if my legs can grow with it as well. Not sure about the SS FS, but the rigid is interesting. A couple of times I was so buggered that I forgot to turn my fork lock out off and bombed down a section of trail, smiling all the way only to find that I had the lockout on all the way. Still, fork lockout is a long way off actual rigid.

    Thank you, it is indeed engaging, actually the purity is somewhat seductive. A couple of my riding buddies are interested, their furtive looks at my SS tells me they are on the verge of a similar SS epiphany themselves. Actually I have set up a test ride for one of them on an innocent little SIR9 at the LBS.

    Thanks mate, it was starring me right in the face. You are right, a fixie for the commute would slap me around and force a change in pedalling. You have given me a dilemma, I spent all day considering how to go about it and as usual, you start high - a new bike, and then you think how to broach that with the wife and well, you work back from there.

    Thanks, Iím understanding what you are saying Ė certainly contributes to the affection one develops for the simpler bike.

    Thanks, yes I know I need the cardio and it has been improving. Iíve been hitting the bmx track (on my mtb) a lot lately and that has helped heaps, especially if you do plenty of reps. Oh yeah, Iím having fun.

    All the best guys, and again, thanks for the warm welcomes.

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