Saturday, September 20, 2008

Losing My Fear of 1-Gear

Kris invited me to shuttle the Wasatch Crest with him and some friends this morning. Alder's early morning soccer game that I had promised to attend, however, prevented me from making the 8:30 AM start. So, instead of riding the Crest, I drove part-way up Millcreek Canyon, parked at the winter gate, took the road to the Big Water trailhead where I jumped on the dirt, meeting Kris at the top of Great Western.

On the way down he asked if I'd like to do a quick out-and-back to Dog Lake. I said sure and we took off. On the way we hooked up with my friend and co-worker Ed for a bit who was out for a ride with his two older boys. The younger of the two - Spencer - was riding strong and hung with Kris and I for a while. That dude needs to start racing for sure as not only is he good on the climbs, but Ed said he can really rip the dh too.

After we had circled the lake and climbed back up to the trail it didn't take long to reach the junction of Little Water and Big Water. Knowing that the group was now in front of us and wanting to test my downhill skills, I made the choice to take Little Water down. We ripped it from top to bottom, exiting at the upper parking lot. Compared to Big Water (the more traditional route) it's a steep, rough ride with lots of water bars. It's a fun trail - if you ride down it. I've only attempted to ride up it once and have no plans to try it again!

At this point we blitzed down the road to Pipeline where I left the group at Birch Hollow. I'd climbed over 3,500 feet and my legs were toast. Early in the ride I'd entertained thoughts of riding to the end of Pipeline, exiting at Rattlesnake Gulch and then climbing back up the canyon to my car. However, the climb to Dog Lake made it clear that my legs were smoked. I wasn't cramping but my quads were screaming at my to stop. While riding all of Millcreek Canyon would have been cool, it's much more enjoyable on a road bike compared to a single speed mountain bike. Speaking of which, did I mention that I chose the 1-gear for today's ride?

Yesterday I had every intention of taking my full suspension BMC. I replaced the worn disc brake pads after work, cleaned off the cow manure from last Saturday's Blackhawk ride, and lubed the chain. It was on my rack and ready to go. The only problem was that I just wasn't feeling it. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I kept wondering what it would be like to do a longer ride on the single (before today's 2.5 hours my longest ride had been 1.5 hours when I rode Millcreek with Kris a couple of weeks ago). Could I handle the climb on the road up to Elbow Fork in my 32x20? Would I be able to make it up the initial steep, punchy climb on Great Western without putting a foot down? What if we decided to drop Little Water - could I handle it on a rigid bike? Trails I've ridden dozens of times seem so different on the single. It's almost as if they become new again.

Without a definitive reason why, but trusting my gut, I took the BMC off the rack and replaced it with the Rig. Looking back I'm glad I did. I only had to get off and walk the steep, rocky and rooty climb on Great Western about two-thirds of the way up. Other than that I rode everything without a problem. And as far as the downhill was concerned I felt really, really good. Fast even. I don't know if it's because I'm beginning to trust my 29" wheels' ability to roll over obstacles, I'm picking better lines, or that I'm no longer holding onto the bars with a death grip, but I actually enjoyed the downhill. So much so that I'm going to postpone my plan to buy a suspension fork and convert my wheels to tubeless first. Maybe once I start running low pressure (with tubes I'm running both front and rear at about 35 psi and would like to drop that to the mid 20's) the need/want for a squishy fork will disappear.

All in all it was a really fun ride. I walked away with a few cuts, scratches, bruises, a severely ripped pair of shorts that are destined for the garbage (all of that is a story for another day...) and an even greater appreciation/understanding of what can be ridden on a fully rigid mountain bike with 1 gear.



I am Matt said...

Are the see through shorts are being trashed?

UtRider said...

Nope, an old pair of Pearl Izumi Ultrasensors.

Are my Revolution team shorts really see through? For some reason I thought JE was just joking when he said that.

mark said...

SS riding is addictive. I was just telling my wife yesterday that I'm thinking about ditching the geared bike altogether and going 100% SS all the time.

I am Matt said...

I wouldn't say see through.. but you have nice form. ;-)

Mike said...

Mark, I haven't been on my squishy geared bike all year, just my single rigid Rig. I'm starting to wonder if I even need the geared bike! Keep it up!

Utahmtbiker said...

Yeah for the rigid ride, tubeless really makes a difference..Also a big tire up front like a weirwolf is definitely worth the weight penalty..Nice and cushy! I ride my front in the low 20's tublessed unless in in moab or something..

goat said...

So you're in need of a new pair of shorts, eh? Well I know where you can get a really great pair at a really great price. :-)