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Thread: First SS Race

  1. #1
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    First SS Race

    I have not really raced in years, so this past weekend was going to be sort of a fitness checkpoint. I just wanted to gauge how much it would take to get back in form. I raced pretty seriously for about a dozen years and then just sorta let it dwindle down to nothing the last dozen years. You know ...the wife, the kids, the mortgage, the whole enchilada.

    My geared equipment wouldn't cooperate and I already had a kitchen pass, so I decided to enter the SS class. I had been racing Expert in the past, but was planning to do Cat 2 45-50. I have an old 1993 Litespeed converted with a White Industries Eccentric Eno hub which I've ridden on average about once every few months ...just never got into it. I've always been a spinner --my average cadence is around 110 off road --so it didn't seem like something that I would be a natural fit for. I'm 5'10'', 160lbs btw.

    I asked around for some gearing advice but largely ignored it. I'd been running a 32-16 on 26 inch wheels with a 2.1 tire. I swapped the 16 for a 17.

    So here's what I learned:

    1) "The thing about single speeds is you really just have the one gear!" This golden nugget came to me a few minutes into the pre-ride when my buddy was complaining about the fast pace.

    2) Select the right gearing for the pace you want to go. I had never bothered to put a second water cage on the bike and don't normally use hydration packs so my handful of SS rides where usually a pair of 45 minute loops with a nice 15 minute break in the middle while I messed around with the water bottles at the car. The pace of a continuous 1:45 race was a least a gear down from where I was.

    3) Bob Roll had a quote to the affect "Grooving and Flowing and not Battling and Conquering". Towards the end of the race, I noticed I was battling that one freakin' gear. I was going to pound that thing into submission to get up the hill. I noticed other folks doing more of a dance up the hill. The dance seems to like W I D E handlebars.

    4) Not being able to downshift forces a much greater focus. There's been a time or two in the past that I've noticed myself reviewing the grocery list (literally) going into a turn or absentmindedly fanning the brakes in a rough section just for that little touch of subconscious security. I could quickly click a higher gear and get back on it. The thing about single speed is that every loss of focus or fanning of the brake cost a lot more energy expenditure.

    5) Overall my finish was so-so. Had I shaved 5 more minutes off my time, I would have been top ten but I don't even think that gets you a ribbon anymore. However, had I entered the class that I was going to do CAT 2 45-50, I would have been a few seconds from getting on the podium. To tell you the truth, I always picture singlespeeders as a bunch of dope-smoking, beer-gutted, hipster beard-sportin' fringe riders who could give a rat's ass about racing ...and maybe most of the are ...but these guys on Sunday did not fit that bill. Their times, on average, smoked all the CAT 2 classes I checked ...but I only looked at the older groups.

    5.5) This really is a part of 5) above but was worthy of it's own line even if it does contradict: someone tried to hand me a can of beer in the neutral feed zone

    6) Very few folks on 26 inch wheels in the SS category and most on dedicate SS bikes.

    7) It would have been nice to have a few knobs on the back tire. All the dancing around seems to require it.

    In short, an enjoyably eyeopening experience which I hope to soon repeat.

  2. #2
    Gigantic Hawk
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    Nice report. SS does have its own set of rules. My first race this year is at the end of April, and I can't wait.

  3. #3
    Teen Wolf
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    nice write up.

    singlespeeds are generally at the top end of the spectrum around here too. don't be too surprised to see that! takes a different kind of rider to kill it

  4. #4
    Expert Crasher
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    Quote Originally Posted by cr45h
    nice write up.

    singlespeeds are generally at the top end of the spectrum around here too. don't be too surprised to see that! takes a different kind of rider to kill it
    Here in South Florida, the top SS rider normally had faster lap times than the top Cat 2 guys.

    Let's put it this way, he smoked me, hard, on my geared dual suspension.
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

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