Well, if you are tired of reading about my journey into SS-ness, I don't blame ya. But I have not had any great adventures of late, so this will have to do.
I had an open morning to put a bit of time in the saddle and I have a favorite loop I can ride from the house. It is 20 miles or so, not far, but pretty hard overall. In fact, if I am not fit, this is a real workout. It is like a giant interval session as the climbing is interspersed throughout the ride. It begins with a 2 mile or so paved climb out of town followed by a total of 8 miles of rolling asphalt. Climb, drop, etc. Same for the dirt, but it climbs much steeper of course. For another 8 miles it runs the ridgeline and seldom stays level for any length of time. Up or down. It finishes on some tasty singletrack and a paved cruise back into town.
This is 2 hrs and 20 mins if I am fit but not in a real hurry. Just riding.
I had done this on the Monkey as a 1X9 and it was pretty hard. There is one climb at the beginning of the dirt that tore me up with no granny gear to drop into. It really makes sense to have a few more gears for this ride, especially with all the pavement, so of course I had to do it on the SS. This could be interesting. I told my wife I expected the ride to take as much as 3 hrs, with the slower pace on the road and a bit of walking figured in to the dirt portion.
Time back home: 2 hrs and 20 mins, pretty much.
Isn't that amazing? Well it worked out this way. The pavement was no slower as I can coast as fast as a geared bike and the uphill was about the same. Very little flat where I would spin out. My split time to the dirt was 1 hour, just like on the geared bike. The dirt? Well, it hurt...a lot...but I never walked. I even made the steep section that I used to consider a grannyring climb. I stopped 4 times along the climb for about 10 seconds to get my heartrate down, but I never walked.
So, I just rode the ride. I was a tiny bit slower here, but a bit faster there. It all worked out, but it really took a toll on me. It takes a lot of power to get the bike up those climbs. I actually could feel my chest muscles beginning to cramp from the upper body pulling on the bars. I gotta step up the sideplank push-ups! In fact, my body feels like I did twice that in time and miles. That is pretty cool, cuz my initial goal in this is to get stronger over the fall/winter. This way I can get more out of the limited time I have to ride.
I really like the response of a steel hardtail when you give it the boot heel and move up a climb. Giddy yap, horsey. As good as the Lev is, it or any other FS will never feel like this. But there is no doubt that there is a place in my life for the full suspension and 2x9 gears of the Lev. I am not kidding myself there. But I bet the gap will continue to narrow as to what I consider outside the realms of the singlespeed's capabilities (or more accurately, my capabilities while on the SS).
It still amazes me, how it all worked out. What next? Who knows? But, another blogger was mentioning how he rarely opts for the geared bike unless the climbing is really severe. I can see that. I would not opt to bring the SS to a new group ride, an area I have never ridden before where I may end up walking for miles, and I am not fit enough to do any endurance event on it...yet..., but for most of the fireroad and singletrack stuff I do, it makes the FS and all the gears seem kinda wasteful.
Did I say was amazed? I am.
"Please don't let me die."
4 years ago