Vermont 50 singlespeed gearing- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Vermont 50 singlespeed gearing

    I plan to do the Vermont 50 this fall. Have done it on a geared bike about 7 times. Great when nice / sucks when wet. I ride a 29er karate monkey with a 34 / 16 gear right now. Great for mass or NH flat land hammer riding. Hike a bike on the big hills. I am soon to be 50, 5' 10" and 205 lbs. The posts about gearing for this are all the top riders who finish the 50 in 5 hours - not me. Last time at the 50 I finished in 7:30ish and that was 7 years ago. that was a dry year. Want to do the 50 at 50.

    What is a realistic gearing for me? 34 / 20? or 21 to 23?

  2. #2
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    Is your fitness better now then it was 7yrs ago? Do you like to spin a high cadence, or grind out at a slow cadence? How long can you ride that 34x16 and how much elevation gain?

  3. #3
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    There isn't a whole lot of flat on the VT50, so my strategy is to gear easy and spin to win. I plan to turn a 34x22 with a sub-6hr finish goal.

  4. #4
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    I am a masher on this flatter Mass / southern NH stuff. Attack the hills. I am not a sit and spinner. 34/16 is a pretty big gear. A touch big on hillier rides like Bear Brook / Blue hills and way too much for the 50. That 34/22 sounds nice and light but how is it on flats. Can you even move?

    My fitness is no better than 7 years ago but not much worse. Play hockey twice a week and bike or x country ski when I can. Could lose 10 - 20 lbs but who at 50 couldn't. Looking to bike most of the climbs if dry instead of hike a bike. If wet, it is hike a bike no matter what. 25 pound bike with 20 pounds of mud

    Sub 6 hour. Did that in 97 at 180 lbs and 30. Not now. Just want to finish and suffer a lot instead of a ton

  5. #5
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    Last year I ran 32x19, down about a little over half a gear inch or so. I made the decision to go with a slightly easier gear because of the step climbs. The thing is, the climbs are steep enough and long enough that walking is often the better way to conserve energy unless you are attacking. I found that I was spun out far more on the flats than I anticipated. Next time I'm likely going to run 34x20 given I'm going to be walking much of the steepest climbs. All the climbs are completely ridable at 34x20. The thing is, doing so you tend to burn all your matches on one or two climbs and have nothing left for the rest of the race.
    SIR 9 SS
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  6. #6
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    The first hills after the road section are so damn steep I just walk em. After that you can ride most of em till after mile 25. Then it is just steep hill after steep hill till the finish. ride half / walk half depending on wetness. I ruined 2 bikes on 2 very wet years. So many frozen parts, I got em loose and sold it all on ebay, I will try the 34/20 on a hill I ride in Billerica that I now do on the 34/16. Can just make it. If still hard on the 20, may go up to a 22 for the 50.

  7. #7
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    I'm 55, 190lbs and hoping to do my 8th in a row this year. Not fast. Done it the last 3 times SS. My best time was 6:42 on a SS. All my SS times are better than my geared times. I use 34/22. I usually ride 34/20 unless I'll be climbing all day. And the VT50 is pretty much climbing all day.


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  8. #8
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    That is the info I needed right there. thanks

  9. #9
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    Look at the Bearscat 50 from last year. Winning SS rider was on a 34x22 and you can see the sort of average speed he was moving at. That was with a LONG 4 mile prologue that absolutely sucked too. That event was in the rain as well.

    Black Bear Cycling::Bearscat 50 Results * 2016

    I finished DFL after a broke my chain on the 2nd lap. I was using a 32x20 gear and felt it was a bit much for me. I was on track for a low 6hr finish before the mechanical. Ignore my elevation profile on the Strava, my Garmin had an issue with the moisture and actually locked up completely. Course had about 5k elevation gain over the 50 miles, so about half what the VT50 has.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/60...ts/14640514925

  10. #10
    jra
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    Hey East Coast SSers. Just curious if the people replying with chainring and cog sizes are running 29ers with 2.1ish tires and 175 cranks? Many variables here, but curious. Cheers.

  11. #11
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    I'm on a 29er, ride 2.2-2.3 tires, 175 cranks. I'm generally a mid-pack finisher in the SS open races.

  12. #12
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    Yep, 29er SS 175mm cranks on 2.35F and 2.25R.
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  13. #13
    jra
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    Cool, thanks. Assumed so, but was curious if the gearing talk was comparing apples to apples. Cheers

  14. #14
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    Use to ride and race a lot of SS "back in the day" here on the East Coast. Not much sit and spin on the flats. Most trails were either steep up or steep down.

    Played around with many gearing combos and consistently ran a 2:1 on a 29er all the way to a 32x22, and everything in between

    My best results racing were with the lowest gearing. But, I usually trained with taller gears.

    As with almost all XC races you win on the climbs, so run a gear that lets you pedal up almost all the climbs.

    Even with low gearing you'd be surprised how fast you are on the open sections of flat double track with quick spins and drafting.

    On the downs, even if you could pedal, almost no time is gained there. Focus on bike handling, cornering, and staying of the brakes.

    Its better to finish mid-pack in one piece because you geared too low, rather than blow up mid race from too high a gear and hobble in at the end after the race is long over.

    Other bits...

    Usually raced rigid, as its just more fun to hammer out of the saddle with no squish. But I did run relatively fat tires for the time - like a 2.4 up front and a 2.3 or so out back. Wide bars of course. Cranks 180s and at times even 185s.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by seasick View Post
    Hey East Coast SSers. Just curious if the people replying with chainring and cog sizes are running 29ers with 2.1ish tires and 175 cranks? Many variables here, but curious. Cheers.
    I'm running 29x3.0, 175 cranks.


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by andysa71 View Post
    I plan to do the Vermont 50 this fall. Have done it on a geared bike about 7 times. Great when nice / sucks when wet. I ride a 29er karate monkey with a 34 / 16 gear right now. Great for mass or NH flat land hammer riding. Hike a bike on the big hills. I am soon to be 50, 5' 10" and 205 lbs. The posts about gearing for this are all the top riders who finish the 50 in 5 hours - not me. Last time at the 50 I finished in 7:30ish and that was 7 years ago. that was a dry year. Want to do the 50 at 50.

    What is a realistic gearing for me? 34 / 20? or 21 to 23?
    I did it several years as sweep and then one year as a "racer". This was from 2003 to 2007. My set up was 33:19 on a 26" with 26 x 2.0 tires. Just a regular guy riding a regular pace. I had a blast every year. I lived around there and rode that gearing year round. I'm going to try to make it back this year as a racer (back up plan is to try to sweep again as the same guys I used to ride with are still sweeping the course).

    Good luck getting in. I hope to see you out there.

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  17. #17
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    Bumping this up to help with planning now that registration is over and training is increasing. I live near Blue Hills in MA. I've mapped out a 25-40 mile loop that will max out around 3200 total elevation. My SS is a 2016 Trek Superfly w/ rigid fork. I run a 29x3.0 on a 50mm rim up front and a 2.4 Ardent in an Arch MK3 rim out back. My go to gearing is 32x18 and I have a 20t that I put on for races with lots of climbing.

    I ordered up a 21t that I'm going to mount up for 32x21 and do a few Blue Hills training rides to see how it does. I've never done the VT50 and really appreciate the advice above and the OP. Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  18. #18
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    3200' in 40 miles is not going to give you much information about how that gear will work at the VT50. Find 5k' in that distance and you have a closer comparison. You could always come down to NJ for the Bearscat 50 this weekend. That race is pretty comparable from a total elevation gain and technical riding perspective, but won't get you the sustained climbing of VT50. Regardless, you need rides with 125-150'/mile of elevation gain to really know if that gear is going to work for you. That's tough to do in this area. When in doubt, gear easier. 32x21 is pretty close to the 34x22 I was planning on running, which is the same gear I plan to use for the Bearscat 50.

    No VT50 for me this year, the wife is doing an OCR that weekend, so I get to hang with my littles instead. I have 3 hundo's on the calendar though, so I'll get plenty of riding in.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHowley2003 View Post
    . My go to gearing is 32x18 and I have a 20t that I put on for races with lots of climbing.

    I ordered up a 21t that I'm going to mount up for 32x21 and do a few Blue Hills training rides to see how it does. I've never done the VT50 and really appreciate the advice above and the OP. Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    In my mind I am going back and forth between 32x19 and 32x20. Resigned to hiking a bunch.

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