Saturday, June 14, 2008

My First Ride with One Gear



Today goes down in the history books as my first official mountain bike ride on the singlespeed. What did I think? It was a ton of fun. Way better than I had imagined. Leading up to the ride I was nervous about my ability to get up the climbs. To be honest, the combination of a fully rigid bike with a single gear was very intimidating. I was nervous and worried.

Boise is home to a great network of trails in the lower foothills. Most are non-technical, with a surface of hardpacked dirt covered with a fine layer of sand/small rocks. Climbs are minimal, at least at the lower elevations where I rode today, and while some are steep, they are short, not lasting longer than a minute. It was that combination of slippery surface and steep grades that I feared. Since I'd be climbing out of the saddle I was worried about 1) Not having the strength to pedal up the hill, and/or; 2) Losing traction with my rear wheel and spinning out. In reality I was pleased to find that neither of the above proved to be an issue. I had no trouble turning the cranks and enjoyed great traction. In short, the climbs were almost easy. That seems counterintuitive given the large (compared to what I'd normally use) gear I was turning, but for whatever reason climbing on the singlespeed just felt good.



On the other hand, going down was a bit of a challenge. While I wouldn't consider it a technical trail, Hulls Gulch has a few rocky sections and descending on the fully rigid bike was a new experience. Remember that nervous/fearful sensation you get in your gut when you're about to try something for the first time? It's been a while since I felt that on my mountain bike and today it was out in full force. Some sections I rode well, others I put a foot down and then forced myself to turn around and ride again. Riding those rocky sections made it clear that I need to convert my wheels to tubeless ASAP. Running at 40 PSI, I was getting thrown around as my wheels bounced off the rocks. Next time I'm going to try 35 PSI but ideally I'd like to run something in the high 20's.

Another fun aspect of today's ride was that I enjoyed the company of my Uncle Steve. And while we've logged many miles together on the road, today was the first time I'd ridden with him on the dirt. It was great fun and brought back a flood of memories from my youth.

7 comments:

KanyonKris said...

I'm glad the inaugural ride on the single speed rig was a good experience. After you've had the fully rigid experience, I'd get a suspension fork.

UtRider said...

Yeah, with front suspension I think the rocky sections would have been fine. I'm going to try and ride it rigid for at least a month before making the decision.

Also, you've got to remember I don't have the mountain biking history you guys do. While you've already done time on a fully rigid bike, this is my first time. I need to cherish the moment so I too can tell my kids about how I rode without suspension back in the good old days!

bradkeyes said...

Congrats! Although I can't believe you waited so long. How long have you had that bike now? Don't give up on the rigid until you have a month of riding it. That's about how long it took me to get used to.

I am Matt said...

Right on! What crank lengths and gear ratio do you have? Sounds like a great first time to break it in. When are you going to list the goods on the bike.

Forrest said...

Riding a rigid fork will help you pick out better lines, that will benefit you when you go back to the full suspension.

Kerry said...

Hey There. I'm glad you are enjoying my old bike. It is good to see it being put to good use. I think you will learn to love the rigid.

Sleepy said...

Welcome to SingleSpeed Nation. Its a ton of fun and I don't think I will ever go back to a suspension or geared bike.