Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fear of singlespeeding...

Saturday morning. Grabbed the Wanga by its ridiculously wide bars, put some air in its tyres and dragged it out kicking and squeaking into a slidey, slippy, grit-slurried November Peak morning. The Pace has eaten its drive bits - chain, jockey wheels, cassette all expensive trash - the 'vento has a flat front and, well, it was the obvious thing to do.

Anyway, cliche or not, it was like meeting up with a an old friend, a good but slightly eccentric one. After a first five minutes of fumbling for shifters and awkward spinnning out, a gradual dawning recollection of why I liked the thing in the first place, followed by a glowing, grinning, warm fug of affection.

I don't do quasi-religious, singlespeed-niche, self-definition - not that there's anything wrong with that, you could be into, erm, unicycling, for example, and that would be considerably worse - but for me anyway, the nice bit of singlespeeding is the way it changes familiar trails into something else altogether. The climb you habitually breeze up on your geared full-susser is suddenly a tricky amalgam of line choice mixed with sudden demands for spurts of step-clearing power.

On long Peak climbs, half the battle is knowing where to be slow. Being able to back off and still turn the pedals, so when you do hit the steep technical step that really does need that turbo-charged moment of sheer power to clean, you have't left it lying around somewhere lower down on the climb.

And that's the bit I'm missing. That top 10 per-cent of the rev range, the ability to push through just one more pedal stroke when your legs are screaming. The point where you suddenly become just lungs and legs and nothing more or less, and the bike improbably, impossibly pops over that step and leaves you bent over the bars, a mess of hyperventilating lungs and lactic-filled legs.

Need to ride it more.


  1. I'm missing that 10% at the moment as well, hope it comes back soon!

  2. Well if you find my top-end power lying around anywhere, please pick it up and send it back by first class post :-/ Usually it's just mislaid though, look under the fridge maybe...