Monday, June 1, 2009
Singlespeed -A- Palooza 2009
May 31, 2009 : 204 mountain bike racers gathered for the first ever Singlespeed-A-Palooza at Stewart Buffer Zone in Newburgh, NY. Racers came from as far as Canada on this pilgrimage with various bikes in tow. Some with big wheels, some with little wheels, in fancy carbon or ghetto rigged home-made steel, even a unicycle. The common denominator was that all the bikes had only one gear. As we gathered, there was much excitement of the anticipated simple adventure ahead. An incredible highest ever turnout of 19 women in a single-speed event, were registered.
Violet, is the name of the bike I have owned the longest and a very dear friend to me. We have been through a lot together, and months may go by without a ride together, and within seconds of getting back on her, I am at home. She is my current singlespeed, and I have updated her with a fox 100mm platform fork, disc brakes, chain tensioner and a bell. For the race I used Industry Nine race wheels and an assist pink rubber band on my tensioner to match. I had decided to play it very conservative and picked a light gear of 32X19.
There were 5 classes: Pro/Open Men, Pro/Open Women, The North Cat 2, The South Cat 2 and Cat 2 women. I went off second in Pro/Open Women and with my light gearing, fell off to the back of the class on the slightly uphill to flat gravel road start. Once I crested the top of the grade, I got into a tuck and nearly bridged back up to the back of the leaders. Already I felt like a child playing games. Imagine that?
All this at the start really doesn't matter as it usually settles itself out in the first single-track eventually. I had to wait to pass a few, but it gave me a little rest and gave Violet a chance to rip it down the first little downhill to catch the next racer. It is amazing how fast you can go pumping the terrain without pedaling. I spun as fast as I could on the flats, but I quickly lost sight of the racer in front of me, and by the second lap, the spinning was wearing me down. A heavier gear may have been the ticket for a faster race, but dealing with what you have is the beauty and simplicity of this event.
I kept a smile on my face and enjoyed every piece of single-track to it's fullest, although there were times that felt more like I was riding, not racing because of the gearing. The north and south guys were passing me often on the flats and up hills, but I held my own on the flowing down hills and still really enjoyed the flow of the course. I ended up finishing 3rd for the women that day, which was certainly better than expected. I came home with a pint glass, bottle opener, cool trophy, pro pay out, a dot of poison ivy and a smile. The promoters, Mike and George, go out of their way to make all their events fun. If you did not do this race this year, it is a must for next year!
photo by gtluke http://gtluke.smugmug.com/biking/798708