SS Racin Newbie (Overly long winded)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    SS Racin Newbie (Overly long winded)

    Let me start off by saying that my little races pale in comparison to what some of you folks (teamdickey and the like) have done but it's mine and I can't help but be a little proud.

    I was a mediocre geared mountain biker for many years and have had alot of racer type friends along the way (both road and mountain). Whenever I was out on the trails with them they would destroy me on any type of climb (I am 6'5" and 220lb) and I was quickly left in the dust spinning like an idiot in my granny gear. They always encouraged me to try a race because it's fun and all that, but I never did because I didn't like the fact that I would have my a$$ kicked.

    Last fall a series of unplanned events and chance encounters led me to the dark underworld of SSing and by January of this year I had ripped all but one gear off my old Cannondale hardtail. I had found my niche and rode through the snow and ice of winter in New Hampshire with reckless abandon.

    In April I purchased my first SS frame (rigid Redline Monocog 26 chromo) and built it up for the coming year. I have been packing on the miles ever since and while I ride alone most of the time, I managed to hook up with 2 of my racer friends on a few occasions. Something had changed though... Instead of them waiting for me at the top of every climb, I was the one doing the waiting. Time and time again I smoked them on every climb and found that the rigid front end let me rail through tight singletrack like I was possessed. I took the "your a freek" and "what the f*** happened to you?" comments in stride, but in the back of my mind I started thinking, "maybe I should try a race, just to see where I am really at".

    While pretending to do work one day I found a reference to a wednesday night race series at a local ski area about 30 minutes from home. I thought about doing it kept finding excuses to skip it. Secretly I had been watching the race results as they were posted every week and kept kicking myself for not trying it. After 4 of the 10 race series had completed, I convinced myself to stop wussing out and just do it. So the Wednesday of the 5th race in the series rolled around and I almost talked myself out of doing it, but finally mustered the courage to give it a shot. I drove up, entered the beginner class, payed my $10, and warmed up while waiting for the start. The whole time I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke. To make matters worse, I was the Only single speed bike an any of the classes. I was a bit of an oddity, with other racers commenting on how tough it must be to ride one of those non-shifty thingies.

    Finally the race started from the parking lot and quickly goes into a muddy singletrack climb. As soon as the climb started I realized that everyone in front of me was grannying up and going waaayyy too slow. So I started passing and within 300 yards of the first climb, I was in the lead... I didn't look back until the end of the first lap and found that there was No one behind me. I started thinking that I had made a wrong turn or short circuited the course somehow but kept cranking through the second lap to the finish. Amazing, I actually won. I waited for 4 minutes at the finish line before #2 came accross and the race coordinator told me I should probably do the sport class next week.

    Fast forward to last night where I enter the sport class in the series. This time it's 3 laps so now I'm worried that I will blow up too quickly. Race starts, much faster pace, but as soon as we hit the climbs, I see that it is still slower than my optimal climb speed. Start passing again and am in front after about a mile into it. I start to relax a bit and realize that while I can beat these guys on the climbs, they can really motor on flats and going down. I manage to hold onto my lead after the first lap, but there is a guy right behind me. The course goes like this: 1st half has short steep climbs and little flat ground, 3rd quarter is a bunch of flats and tech downhill, and 4rd quarter has one long fireroad climb, a downhill, and a steep climb to start/finish area. Into the second lap I start the climb and the guy drops way back, but catches up to me on the flats and downhill sections. The last section is the same, I drop him on the fireroad climb, he catches me on the downhill and I drop on the final climb. The third lap is a repeat of previous 2 and I manage to hold on, beating him by 9 seconds at the finish. I can't believe that I actually won again and as it turns out it is the best sport class finish time of the season by almost 2 minutes. The guy I beat came up to me after the race and just said "Holy crap, you hurt me bad, great race".

    So the moral of the story is: Obviously I am realistic about this, knowing that I would probably place at the back of the pack in any real, sanctioned race, but that's not the point. The real point is that single speeding made me a much better rider (both physically and technically) and has given me the confidence to participate in something that is out of my general comfort zone.

  2. #2
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    That's a really nice story.

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    Too many stories like this one for it to be a fluke. To be honest I am kind of against the whole SS theory, but I ordered one anyways because of stories like this. I am hoping that the SS will help break through my plateau.

    Good job and keep riding

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by heythorp
    I am hoping that the SS will help break through my plateau.
    It changes your whole game, and if you get beat by a geared rider or can't make a hill, you can blame it on only having one gear.

  5. #5
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    Congrats! Sounds to me like fitness more than anything else. A rigid SS will help on the climbs, but if you rode all winter, like it sounds, and put on huge miles earlier in the year, then that's what got you where you are. No matter the bike, with the hours you put in, I think you would have realized a subsantial improvement in results. You've worked hard to get these results. Impressive.

    If you want to improve your handling in the tight spots and on the decents, find a good rider and follow them around. Trust me, it really helps to ride with someone like that.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by heythorp
    . I am hoping that the SS will help break through my plateau.
    I think this is really the ultimate result of what SS can offer. It's a change of pace from the norm. There are no fall back options. Pedal or die! You will build tremendous power that will certainly help. You will learn to conserve more momentum, even if you thought before that you conserved as much as possible. You can possibly lose some arobic fitness levels if you don't keep up with more endurance riding and training, but that doesn't sound like a problem with all the road miles you are doing.
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    Heythorp: what do you mean by the statement that you are "kind of against the whole SS theory"? Just curious.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mud'n'sweat
    I think this is really the ultimate result of what SS can offer. It's a change of pace from the norm. There are no fall back options. Pedal or die! You will build tremendous power that will certainly help. You will learn to conserve more momentum, even if you thought before that you conserved as much as possible. You can possibly lose some arobic fitness levels if you don't keep up with more endurance riding and training, but that doesn't sound like a problem with all the road miles you are doing.

    Plus there is the bonus of watching the geared racers panic when you pass them on a climb with a singlespeed.....



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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected]
    Heythorp: what do you mean by the statement that you are "kind of against the whole SS theory"? Just curious.
    Well I guess theory was the wrong word... But, to be honest, I thought and still think that riding a single speed in the woods is well dont kill me here, dumb. i understand all the reasons and stuff but It just does'nt make sense to me.

    Now with that said, I am not trying to flame SS or start anything, you asked me what I ment. To be honest with you I think SS/FG on the road makes a world of sense for specific training. I just dont think that it would corralate well to MT. biking.

    Before you slam/ flame or anything else to me, please remember that I just spend 850 on a new SASS and it will be here on Tuesday. Not only that but I am extreemly excited to get it. I am completely against it but I am going to try it anyways.

    Here is my reason..

    I am a roadie for most part. I have done about 2500miles since april. I am kind of hitting a wall as far as fitness. I know what I need to do to get strong but I dont want to do them.

    1. Ride longer ( you just have to put more hours in the saddle)
    2. Ride with stronger riders.( i dont mind riding with others in the woods but roadies well can be roadies, I will leave it there)
    3. Target training/intervals, I do hill days and stuff but I dont really want to do that. That takes what little fun there is in road riding and makes it a miserable experience.


    So I came up with option 4.

    4. Get a Single speed. so that is what i did, I dont know if i will like it or not but I am going to give it a try even If I think its silly



    Mt. Bikes I have owned
    1999 trek 920
    2000 specialized sworks steel frame( I miss this bike, try to find a tripple butted steel frame)
    2002 specialzed sworks M2 (frame replacement when the steel broke, no more steel )
    2004 specialized SJ pro
    2004 specialized epic marathon
    2005 specialized epic marathon
    2005 Bianchi SASS will be here on tuesday
    2006 Specialized epic marathon, picking it up in 3 weeks. (if the ss does not work out for me or even if it does, too good a deal to pass up and what a fast freaking bike)
    Last edited by heythorp; 08-18-2006 at 03:01 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by heythorp
    So I came up with option 4.
    I really think this is a good move on your part. Not because I like SS and want to see other people do it, but because it sounds like a good fit for you. It will force you into breaking new ground and building power for climbing.... YET, it is a hell of a lot of fun unlike the hill days/target training you don't care foir too much.
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  11. #11
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    good thing too is a riding buddy is converting his hardtail. So I will have someone to tallk to about it and go ride with and we can puke together

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by N8!
    Plus there is the bonus of watching the geared racers panic when you pass them on a climb with a singlespeed.....
    That really felt good... putting someone heavily into the red zone on a climb and then once at the top they have to stay in granny gear to recover as I ride away.

  13. #13
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    I'm a roadie as well and really enjoy single speeding. I'd imagine you will as well. If not, then you don't. It's just such a nice change for me, you know?

    One more thought, just based on my years of riding/racing. Be sure to take time off. As I get older, I'm fiding this is huge. I take a couple breaks throughout the season where I really don't ride for a week or so. Makes such a difference. And if you have a good base, you shouldn't have any problems getting your speed back, and more. Just be sure to ease back into it. I know I get pretty burned out on the whole thing by the end of July, then I take some time off and hit the trails.

    Maybe that's not the issue and maybe it is. Either way, enjoy your new bikes!

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    sorry galley, kinda hijacked your thread a little

    Quote Originally Posted by one1spede
    I'm a roadie as well and really enjoy single speeding. I'd imagine you will as well. If not, then you don't. It's just such a nice change for me, you know?

    One more thought, just based on my years of riding/racing. Be sure to take time off. As I get older, I'm fiding this is huge. I take a couple breaks throughout the season where I really don't ride for a week or so. Makes such a difference. And if you have a good base, you shouldn't have any problems getting your speed back, and more. Just be sure to ease back into it. I know I get pretty burned out on the whole thing by the end of July, then I take some time off and hit the trails.

    Maybe that's not the issue and maybe it is. Either way, enjoy your new bikes!

    I take some time off here and there. i was "sick" for a week, nothing major but I decided not to ride for a week. and then there is life stuff that makes you take extra days maybe you wouldnt normally do. I try to do 6 days a week with a rest day. I ride with the girl a bunch of times a month so they are great recovery rides, or sometimes they are hill days. I dont really spend that much time in the saddle. Most of my rides are less then 2 hours a day, with one or 2 longer rides a month.

    but I agree you need time off too

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    Time off is essential, for me I need at least 1 day off for about every 5 days of hard riding or my legs start to feel a bit dead.
    Here are a few questions for you roadies who also mtb SS:
    Would getting in alot of road miles improve my SSing endurance, strength, or both?
    Do you ride a geared, fixed, or SS road bike?

    I don't own a road bike, but I am sure that adding a large mileage base to the beginning of the season would help out. Maybe I am just looking for an exuse to buy another bike

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    Good story. I just picked up my first SS yesterday, with today being my first ride on it. I like it. I too am 6'4 but 245 lbs, and I can already tell its going to help me get in shape quicker then my other ride. I like it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by galleywench
    Time off is essential, for me I need at least 1 day off for about every 5 days of hard riding or my legs start to feel a bit dead.
    Here are a few questions for you roadies who also mtb SS:
    Would getting in alot of road miles improve my SSing endurance, strength, or both?
    Do you ride a geared, fixed, or SS road bike?

    I don't own a road bike, but I am sure that adding a large mileage base to the beginning of the season would help out. Maybe I am just looking for an exuse to buy another bike

    While I have not gotten my SS yet, there is no secret to what road miles do for your endurance. Most pro MT racers do most of there training on the road.

    While the hills in the woods are much much harder then the road, you will recover much faster with a really good base from road riding.

  18. #18
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    Taking time off in the NE doesn't make sense to me. 3 days maybe, but not a week. When we have 4 feet of snow I would regret doing so.

    Great read Galley, thanks.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by galleywench
    Time off is essential, for me I need at least 1 day off for about every 5 days of hard riding or my legs start to feel a bit dead.
    Here are a few questions for you roadies who also mtb SS:
    Would getting in alot of road miles improve my SSing endurance, strength, or both?
    Do you ride a geared, fixed, or SS road bike?

    I don't own a road bike, but I am sure that adding a large mileage base to the beginning of the season would help out. Maybe I am just looking for an exuse to buy another bike
    5 days of hard riding? If you can pull that off with just one day off, I'm impressed. You should really only do 1 or 2 days a week of hard riding. The rest should be specific training at lower heart rate, etc. If you're doing what you're doing with 5 hard days, you could really fly if you were to train properly.

    And yes, the road is great for endurance and strength. It's different than mountain biking. It's also great for recovery. A good way to spin down and loosen up. I'd definitly mix it up between road and mountain for the best results.

    I ride geared and fixed on the road. I spend most of the time on the geared, as I race the road a lot. But fixed is great as well. Great for the pedal stroke and spin. Want a tough ride? Go do some hills in a fixy. Good stuff.

    I did an easy three hour road ride on Saturday. Even though it was easy, I really felt it. I've been off road quite a bit lately, but riding the road is great as well. Then did 3 pretty hard hours off road on Sunday. It was a blast. I'll be taking the day to recover...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by one1spede
    5 days of hard riding? If you can pull that off with just one day off, I'm impressed. You should really only do 1 or 2 days a week of hard riding. The rest should be specific training at lower heart rate, etc.
    Maybe it isn't hard riding to some, but my definition of hard riding is when my heart rate is above 70% for most of the ride (most of my rides are 8-20 miles). I typically average between 150 and 165 HR during almost all of my rides (my max HR=182). I find it very difficult where I live to find a ride that doesn't require me to push my heartrate for the majority of ride (especially now that I am SS only).
    In the past when I have ridden on roads I find that my HR stays much lower. I think because the hills are more gradual than what I find on local trails. From everything I have read, you are correct in suggesting that I should be doing some more lower intensity stuff, it is just hard for me to do without getting on the road. I may try some railtrails or maybe even get a road bike sometime soon though.

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