Saturday, July 4, 2015

At Peace With One

It had been years since I raced my single-speed. I’m not sure what happened, but about 7 years ago I took a long break from single-speed racing, and became very bonded with my gears, … all my gears. I had several attempts to get back out there and turn the holy one, but I never seemed to be able to motivate myself enough to go without.

Enter the Lewis Morris Race: which is not one of favorite race courses. The course is rolling, hilly, not very technical and a true fitness course. Not being in top form this year, I was not looking forward to facing my current shortcomings. I really wanted to add something into the mix to get me excited to race and light a spark. My weapon of choice was my steel single-speed. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions as heavy rains the night before the race and a light rain at my start, enhanced the challenge.

I had half a thought of bailing when I saw the rain at the race, but I really wanted to stretch my legs and ride as I was cooped up inside the house the day before. I was late getting to the race, so I had little warm up. When I race gears, I am super strict with warm up as a 50+ racer because it takes us elders a little longer to warm up, but this day I was a single-speeder and that meant I had no age. I was just a biker turning the perfect one, and would deal with no warm up.

This was my first attempt at 29er single-speeding, so I had done my research on the Sheldon Brown site to try and mimic the proper gearing and gain ratio. If you have not seen the Sheldon Brown site, you need to check it out. It is the ultimate in gearing geekyness.

The gear I chose caused me to fall off the back at the start, but as soon as the course tipped uphill, I took charge of setting my pace, which held well among the geared girls. I worked up to 2nd early on the first lap, and then fell back to third, where I would eventually finish. The rhythms of the single-speed are all to it’s own, and I knew not to pace myself with anyone else, yet I could see racers in front and behind, which is a good thing. My motivator was my lack of gears, and I was forced to suffer up each climb.

I checked off each climb in my mind on my last lap, and got complacent after the final climb as if I were done. The racer behind me bridged up and I was under pressure. Under geared for the final flat sprint to the finish line against a geared racer was a sure fail on my part. I had no choice but to push the limits of my comfort zone on the slippery turns and loose descents. Any place that was slightly up, I had to attack. What ever I did, it worked as I gained just enough to hold my 3rd place. It was a good day to be on a bike, and I suppose that is proof that my choice to race a single-speed was a good choice.

After a long hiatus from single-speed racing, Lewis Morris was a perfect race to be reunited with the perfect one! I hope to do some more single-speeding in the near future.